Family Reunions Done Right

By: Jill Martin

Family, fun and these helpful tips make the perfect recipe for your reunion.

Family reunions are always a great idea, but figuring out itineraries for a big group can be daunting. The solution? Plan a vacation at one of the following destinations and invite your relatives to join you for some Florida sunshine.


A family picnic or barbeque at American Beach located on Amelia Island in North Florida is an excellent way to start off your reunion. During its heyday in the 1930s - 1950s, American Beach hosted such celebrities as Cab Calloway, Zora Neale Hurston, Ray Charles and Hank Aaron, among others. An outing to American Beach is a perfect combination of African American history and family fun.

Living Large

If you’ve dreamed of sharing a vacation home, you’ll be happy to know how easy it is to arrange. A property management company like ResortQuest can help you find what you need, from a small cottage to a 10-bedroom estate. A helpful hint: You should rent during the off-season and share costs to save big. Then, it’s downright affordable to relax in luxury.

Run of the Place

Florida has lots of smaller resorts and bed and breakfasts. Plan in advance, and you can rent every unit (and get a great rate). Island Bay Resort in Key Largo has 10 different cottages, from efficiencies to two-bedrooms. Need more rooms? The nearby Rock Reef Resort has 21, and each family can rent the size they need. Kids can swim, and you can relax in a hammock.

Saturday in the Park

When a multi-day trip just isn’t feasible, make plans to spend one spectacular day together beneath the shade of a large pavilion at a favorite park or beach. In Miami, you can’t beat the views at Crandon Park Beach, and Matheson Hammock Park has the most amazing shade trees.

Let It Ride

If adventure runs in your family’s bloodline, send out B.Y.O.T. invitations (bring your own ticket) and meet up at your favorite theme park for a day of non-stop fun. Call the theme parks directly to ask about group specials. You can get discounts on rooms, meals, tickets and more.

Bond beneath the Stars

Get back to nature and go camping. Florida has a long list of campgrounds, but an old favorite of mine is Ichetucknee Springs Campground. If you reserve their largest site, everyone can stay together in their own tent or camper.

(If your grandma is like mine and prefers a real bed, there’s a bed and breakfast close by.) Cook your own meals outside or visit the lodge for food and games. Just be sure to tube the Ichetucknee River while you’re there. Rent inner tubes and enjoy a lazy float on the cool, clear water.

Go Western

Is your family outdoorsy? Two words: dude ranch! Westgate River Ranch and Circle F are both in Lake Wales, south of Orlando. Westgate offers comfy accommodations, on-site restaurants – even a rodeo. For a more rustic experience, choose Circle F. It’s no-frills, but the setting is beautiful with a huge lake, 21 cabins (with electricity and running water) and lots of activities from zip lining to horseback riding. Meals are included and served family-style in the Lasso Lodge. Pass the biscuits!

Add Some Florida Flair

Make your reunion in Florida even more memorable for your out-of-town guests by adding personal touches. Give baskets filled with coconut patties, oranges and local honey. Or fill colorful sand pails with a beach towel, sunscreen and lip balm.

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