Your Florida summer vacation is around the corner. Ready to start prepping for big family fun? Here are five fantastic beach destinations your family will love. If you prefer freshwater pools to sand in your pants, I have some ideas for over-the-top pool destinations, too.
Five Hot Beaches
Captiva and Sanibel Islands
These barrier islands act like giant sieves straining seashells from the Gulf, which are then dumped by the thousands on shore. It’s one of the best shelling spots on earth. Along with breathtaking beaches, the shops, restaurants and J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge make Sanibel and Captiva Islands a family favorite.
Clearwater/St. Pete Beach
Miles of extra-wide beaches, gentle waves and a small-town feel with big-town amenities attract families year ‘round. Stay in towering high-rises or small hotels and feel right at home. Be sure to do some fishing, then catch the daily sunset celebration at Clearwater Beach’s Pier 60.
Martin County (Jensen Beach/Stuart/Hutchinson Island)
What’s not to love about a destination with no parking meters and no buildings over four stories high? Throw in the natural beauty and loads of water sports and you’ve got yourself a real crowd pleaser. Their downtown areas, lined with eclectic shops and cafes, make it ideal for strollers and strolling, day or night. Sit on a bench, eat ice cream and savor the moments.
With a name that means "Lost" Key, Perdido Key is definitely worth finding. It’s ranked among the nation’s top 20 beaches by Dr. Beach, and its white shores are postcard perfect. Take one of the bridges from the mainland across to paradise and discover one of the best kept secrets of Florida’s beaches. Pensacola is just up the road, too.
The Beaches of St. Augustine
Just a few miles from the oldest city with its historic monuments, you’ll find the Beaches of St. Augustine on Anastasia Island. Miles of gorgeous coastline and barrier islands create some of the most scenic beaches in the state. Be sure to visit St. Johns County Pier, a four-acre beachfront park with pavilions, playgrounds and fishing.
Five Cool Pools
Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress, Orlando
Get this: The Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress has a half-acre main pool, 12 waterfalls, two waterslides, and a swim-through grotto with a ceiling more than 12 feet high. In all, there are 800,000 gallons of good, clean fun.
Liki Tiki Village Resort, Winter Garden
This Polynesian-themed resort is home to the Liki Tiki Lagoon, a 1.5-acre, 220,000-gallon on-site water park. And wait till you see its corkscrew slides, erupting volcano, gentle wave pool and kiddie swim area (with a giant squirting octopus)!
Nickelodeon Suites Resort, Lake Buena Vista
Kids go crazy over this Nickelodeon-themed, lagoon-style pool. Along with seven slides and poolside games galore, there are daily “slimings” your little ones will remember forever. There’s also a four-story water tower and a 400-gallon dump tank that unloads on unsuspecting guests.
Reunion Resort and Club, Orlando
Get ready to be wowed by the resort’s five-acre waterpark for guests and club members. The main pool is 323,000 gallons and their 110-foot waterslide has a 15-foot drop, so hold on to your swimsuit! There’s also an interactive water playground. Did I mention the 1000-foot lazy river? You’ve got to come play!
Ron Jon Cape Caribe, Cape Canaveral
What’s better than a big water park onsite at your resort with a heated pool, lazy river and a 248-foot waterslide? How about the fact that it’s by the ocean? Ron Jon Cape Caribe offers a wonderful balance between refreshing pool play with sandy seaside fun.
Prepare to get wet, matey! I couldn’t resist adding Lake Buena Vista Resort Village and Spa to the list – it has a life-size pirate ship resting at the end of a zero-entry pool! Climb on for scream-inducing slides! There’s a poolside grill, too. It’s so fun you might forget you’re two miles from the world’s greatest theme parks