"Troops march on their stomachs," Napoleon Bonaparte once observed. Arguably, travelers do too, and on getaways many gravitate to buffets. Florida, being synonymous with fresh fish and other delicious gifts from the sea, serves up some bountiful seafood buffets, sometimes conveniently right at your own resort. No wonder, with the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico surrounding the peninsula on three sides, fresh seafood is plentiful and satisfying after a full day of activities and sightseeing. Crab legs, anyone?
Here are some seafood buffets at a variety of resorts to consider on your next Florida getaway, arranged alphabetically by destination. Oh, and by the way, most buffets include non-seafood selections in case your companion does not care for the fruits of the sea.
Beaches of South Walton -- The Sandcastles Restaurant & Lounge at the Hilton Sandestin Beach Golf Resort & Spa offers a buffet with an array of dishes for seafood aficionados and prime rib for non-seafood lovers from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday nights until Sept. 3. The buffet, served in addition to the restaurant's dinner menu, costs $26.95 for adults, $13.95 for children ages 7-12 (ages 6 and under are free with a paid adult buffet). On the menu are such dishes as assorted house-made chilled salads; chef-carved prime rib; marinated, smoked and raw bar; marinated blue crab claws; smoked salmon and mussels; peel and eat shrimp; oysters on the half shell; snow crab and shrimp boil with fresh corn on the cob and new potatoes; pecan-crusted chicken breast with thyme-maple sauce; roasted grouper with Cajun butter sauce; baked clam and Italian sausage with pasta; baked oyster of the day; fried shrimp and oversized hush puppies; and a variety of side dishes. House-made pastries and desserts are featured as is a children's buffet including pizza, macaroni and cheese and chicken fingers. For resort details, visit www.sandestinbeachhilton.com. For seafood buffet dinner reservations, call 850-267-9500, ext. 43.
Lake Buena Vista -- A nostalgic New England décor and "seaside" setting welcome guests to Disney's Cape May Café's Seafood Dinner & Clambake at Disney's Beach Club Resort at Walt Disney World. A veritable evening feast the buffet includes crab legs, mussels and clams freshly steamed center stage. Seasonal seafood salads are offered. For non-seafood lovers there is a selection of dishes such as ribs, chicken pastas, and carved meats. Price range is from $15 to $35.99 excluding alcohol, tax and gratuity. For reservations at the Cape May Café call 407-939-3463; for details on Disney's Beach Club, visit www.disneyworld.com.
Marco Island -- The Hilton Marco Island Beach Resort & Spa offers an "Under The Sea" Seafood Buffet every Friday from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m., patronized not only by guests, but also by locals, according to the hotel's concierge. Cost is $32 for adults and $16 for children ages 5-12. Served in the hotel's Paradise Café, the buffet features a salad bar and raw bar with mixed greens, steamed shrimp, Dungeness crab legs, crab meat salad, oysters on the half shell, shredded cheddar cheese and other delights. Entrees and side dishes include three fish choices, seafood gumbo, new potato salad. Choices for non-seafood lovers include a fruit and nuts salad, creamy cole slaw, chef's choice of starch and vegetable du jour. Assorted desserts are included. Reservations can be made by calling the hotel at 239-394-5000 and the operator will record the reservation or ask for the concierge at ext. 6600. For hotel information, visit www.hilton.com.
Orlando -- Launched in April, the Seafood Sensation buffet is served on Friday evenings at the Garden Grove restaurant at the Swan and Dolphin Resort. The bountiful spread includes New England clam chowder, raw bar with ceviche and peel and eat shrimp, mussels Fra Diablo, Frutti di Mare, snow crab legs, seafood paella, jumbo scallops, stuffed half Maine lobster, popcorn shrimp and hush puppies. Five types of salads are available. Non-seafood dishes include prime rib au jus and lemon chicken and sides include mashed potatoes and green beans with toasted almonds. Children's selections include mini corn dogs, macaroni and cheese, and chicken nuggets. Assorted desserts add a sweet touch to the meal. Cost is $35.99 for adults, $14.99 for children ages 3-9. Kids add $10 each for lobster. Unlimited lobster charge is $55.99 for adults, $34.99 for children. Tax, gratuity and beverages are extra. Visit www.swananddolphin.com.
Vero Beach -- Disney's Vero Beach Resort & Spa features a Surfside Seafood Dinner Buffet on Thursdays. Served at the resort's Shutters restaurant from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m., it offers such seafood lovers' delights as Key West conch chowder, snow crab legs with drawn butter, Prince Edward Island mussels with smoky tomato broth, local day boat catch of the day, steamed peel and eat shrimp with cocktail sauce, and fried shrimp with coconut dipping sauce. Accompaniments include three kinds of salads, smashed red bliss potatoes, honey-glazed carrots and green beans and corn on the cob. For non-seafood lovers there is Yankee pot roast and gravy, and for children, macaroni and cheese and chicken nuggets. Desserts include Key Lime pie, pecan bars, fudge brownies and assorted cookies and cupcakes. Cost is $24.99 for ages 10 and up; $12.99 for ages 3-9. Reservations are recommended. Call 772-234-2180. For resort information, visit www.disneybeachresorts.com.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun