Family Vacation Essentials

Kids – especially 'tweens – tend to rate family vacations on criteria such as available activities, style and proximity to the parental units (less is more). And it's not always easy to please everyone. Enter The Shores Resort & Spa on Daytona Beach, a getaway you and your discriminating travelers-in-training can agree on.

My husband and I are lucky. Our young daughter is content to vacation wherever we choose.

We've seen the future through our niece, age 11, and nephew, age 14, who rate family vacations on criteria such as available activities (FYI – these should be as grown-up as your kids perceive themselves to be) and proximity to the parental units (less is more). They give points for style, too, preferring destinations that fill the space between babyish and boring.

Enter The Shores Resort & Spa on Daytona Beach – a getaway you and your discriminating travelers-in-training can agree on.


Start at the pool. Elevated one level, it provides a panorama of the beach and buzz below: ATVs and bikes follow cars doing the drive-on-the-sand thing; friends pick up a game of volleyball; a boy and his board meet a surf instructor at the shoreline. All of these activities (and more) can be added to The Shores' "Family Grand Adventure" package, which includes the Daytona 500, a visit to Florida's tallest lighthouse at Ponce Inlet and Marine Center, bag of sand toys to use at the beach and $100 resort credit good at Azure restaurant or Indulge Spa.

Back to the pool: It's huge, heated, and there's even a smaller version flanked by fountains for water play (in case your 'tween is "afflicted" with younger siblings). On the opposite side of the deck, a hot tub hides away near a tiki bar. Walk up for food service or drinks, but the coup here is the cabana – an outdoor bed, essentially, regally shaded by the resort's signature striped canvas. We settled into ours for the afternoon, making it home base for swimming, lunching (flag a member of the wait staff for cabana service) and snoozing (draw the canvas sides down for privacy).

Rentals start at $39 for a half-day, but request a list of packages to command bottled water, fruit skewers, towel service, frozen drinks and more. 'Tweens will become so engrossed in the VIP treatment, they'll barely notice you supervising them from your posh vantage.

A Spa for All Ages

Even The Shores' spa, Indulge, honors youth (beyond the aesthetic sense of the word). Guests 16 and older can receive private treatments – though the couple's room stages the perfect mother/daughter or father/son set-up.

Younger guests, accompanied by an adult, can enjoy services including the Shirley Temple Pedicure. A "virgin" version of my Key Lime Margarita Pedicure (with a sugar scrub, lime-infused coconut body butter and a margarita my way), the Shirley Temple features the namesake drink and a cherry-scented footbath. I dream of the day when my daughter and I can come together for pampering in a context other than diaper-changing. For now, I seize the "me" time.

Casual Chic

The Shores is Daytona Beach's only AAA Four Diamond property, but in an all-the-amenities, none-of-the-attitude kind of way. I like that I can order fresh seafood for lunch and dinner from Azure, the resort's Four Diamond-rated restaurant. Even more, I like that I can dine on the terrace, by the pool or on our balcony (thanks to room service). You could reserve a table in Azure's dining room, but I like the freedom of dining outside with family. And while you sample Azure's sophisticated selections, coming-of-age palates will appreciate the children's menu of tried-and-trues, plus a New York strip and coconut shrimp for more adventurous appetites.

As for the décor, the look is sophisticated, but never sleepy. Primary colors appear in our room, but this is not design by Technicolor. Red becomes rust, yellow melts to butter, blue blends with the clouds. Netting cascades from the bed canopy, and lighting throughout the property, adorned with translucent colored flowers, evokes whimsy.

A chic Kohler sink atop an industrial vanity and an Italian marble walk-in shower (with a rain showerhead) make our bathroom totally hog-able. And if you're wondering what's going on with your alarm clock, each guestroom is equipped with an iHome player. If you don't know what that is, ask a 'tween.

Rewards and Rendezvous

Reward the kids for good behavior with a trip to Atlantic Avenue. Its souvenir and surf shops, Main Street Pier, Ocean Walk Shoppes and Daytona Beach Lagoon water park sit just a few miles from The Shores. The kids will thank you, and you'll be amused by the retro quality of it all. Still, nothing feels better than returning to the relative quiet of the resort, whose boutique character preserves an uncrowded ambience.

After a day spent loosely together, gather the gang 'round the fire – Adirondack chairs encircle several pits between the pool and the ocean. A s'mores package guarantees a sweet ending, but I'm content savoring the essential elements of a great vacation: bright-white moonlight, full-volume waves, a cozy-warm fire and family.

For more information on planning an in-state family getaway to the Shores Resort & Spa, call 888-377-0325 or visit

Sponsored listings by VISIT FLORIDA Partners


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