6 All-Inclusive Kid Friendly Resorts in Florida
From Destin to the Florida Keys, these all-inclusive kid-friendly resorts make the grade.
By Heidi Tyline King
1. Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort, Destin
Indulging in a romantic beach weekend at Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort in Destin with your spouse is not necessarily a bad idea, but you will realize how wonderful it would be to return after starting your family. You will see families playing in the sand, pedaling around the property and enjoying an old-fashioned good time – together.
Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort is easy and there's something for everyone. The resort’s location on Florida’s Northwest coast makes it a manageable drive from many places in the southeast. Because it’s actually a gated resort community, you have your choice of accommodation options, whether it’s a beautifully appointed hotel room with mini-fridge and microwave, an oceanfront condo with a kitchen so you can serve your toddler three square meals, or a cottage or townhome with enough room for grandparents and a rambunctious brood. And the resort itself is a destination, with lots to do no matter what your children’s ages are.
Grown-up preferences lean towards a leisurely place. Bicycle along the extensive paths that crisscross the community and kayaked in the bay. Despite all the different diversions to keep us busy, nothing compares to the beauty of the sugar-white beach. Armed with a couple of buckets and shovels and a slathering of sunscreen, you will sit for hours digging in the gentle surf and bubbly breaks along the shore.
2. The Breakers, Palm Beach
The Breakers in Palm Beach is a one hundred-plus-year-old, family-ownded resort listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and a mainstay on virtually any list of chi-chi hotels recommended for romance, family gatherings and powerbroker business events.
Your first instinct will be to hold your breath when you enter the marbled main lobby, crossing over custom carpets more expensive than the minivan we arrived in. The anxiety, however, will vanish once the bellman asks whether the kids wanted a ride up on the luggage cart. (Yes!)
Rather than feeling uptight about the fancy-schmancy accommodations, you’ll feel like guests at grandmother’s house, where spilled milk was forgiven with the wave of a hand and losing our room key three times never ceased to be amusing.
The Breakers has oodles of activities for kids. Play croquet, snorkel and swim in one of the five oceanfront pools, hunt for shells and take an afternoon bike ride.
3. The Marco Island Marriott Resort, Golf Club and Spa
The Marco Island Marriott Resort on Marco Island is touted as the ultimate escape for families. The resort pool has a waterfall and slide, and there are tennis clinics, sand dollar painting, ceramics and sailing – just the kind of activities that the kids enjoy.
If the man of the house is a golfer, he may be partial to choosing this resort as the family getaway for one particular reason – golf at The Rookery at Marco Island.
With its beachside location, the resort is also one of the best places to play in the sand and surf, and there are all kinds of outdoor activities designed to keep families entertained. Simple as it seems, the sandcastle building contest was a highlight of the girls’ trip, along with the Sailing and Shelling tour. Opting for the morning excursion, when the sun wasn’t quite as intense, we spotted a number of dolphins on the ride and came home with some of the largest shells we had seen outside of a souvenir shop.
The Marriott Marco Island does a number of things well, but the resort earns an A+ for its unbeatable activity schedule. All day long, there are opportunities for kids and adults to participate in tried-and-true and new activities, including waterside bingo and hair braiding. Marco rocks for families.
Packing up the family for a different part of the state? Consider these resorts that are sure to keep the kids talking – at least until next year’s family vacation:
4. Club Med Sandpiper Bay, Port St. Lucie
This all-inclusive kid-friendly resort in Florida takes personalized service so seriously, it tailors kids’ programs for guests aged 4 months to 17 years. The staff is just as serious about having fun, supervising age-appropriate activities including puppet shows, dance classes, circus school (complete with a flying trapeze) and an array of sports activities. The resort thought of everything when it began offering bottle warmers and cribs. 800-CLUB-MED, www.clubmed.us.
5. Hawk’s Cay, Duck Key
Take a personal watercraft ride or go parasailing from the resort marina at Hawk's Cay. Hang out at the family-friendly area with the shallow, pirate ship pool, playground, basketball court and a little golf course among other activities. Plan your leisure time wisely – you wouldn’t want to leave without experiencing the dolphin encounter, would you?
6. Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge, Orlando
You’re in for a wild night at Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge, where a savanna-view room gives you a lookout over part of the 43-acre reserve. Watch the giraffes roam, dine under a thatched ceiling and slide 67 feet into the resort pool (there’s also a wading pool for the littlest ones). Simba’s Cubhouse for kids aged 4-12, an arcade and a playground give kids even more options (if you can pry them out of the parks).