Kara on the Coast
Families have been flocking to Florida for years and it’s easy to see why.
“Florida is an ideal destination for family fun because it provides opportunities for families to participate in activities together,” said Emily Kaufman, a.k.a. The Travel Mom. “From theme parks and outdoor adventure to hands-on learning experiences, Florida has something to match the personality of every family.”
Jacksonville-based family travel blogger Carrie McLaren agreed. “Florida is a fantastic place for families to visit because of all the great activities parents and children can experience together. From thrilling roller coasters to watching a rocket launch, exploring nature trails, airboat rides or searching for shells on the beach, Florida allows families to make long-lasting memories with one another.”
Here are just a few of the top hotels that cater to families across the Sunshine State.
TradeWinds Island Resorts in St. Pete Beach
Sprawling across 25 gulf front acres on sugar white sand in St. Pete Beach, TradeWinds Island Resorts offer lots to do. The perfect place to make a splash, the property features seven swimming pools and a three-story high water slide located right on the beach. You’ll also find a water playground of trampolines and chill-out lounges floating in the surf. The adventurous members of the family will love the opportunity to strap on a JetLev Flyer pack and hover above the water’s edge. Plus, there are tons of activities for the kids like a pirate show, dive-in movies and the opportunity to hold sea creatures during the Touch Tank Experience. Lucky swimmers ages 8-years-old and up can experience what it’s like to snorkel in the 33,500-gallon tank built by Animal Planet’s hit show TANKED at RumFish Grill's aquarium.
Guests at the Hilton Orlando are centrally located in the Theme Park Capital of the World -- minutes from Universal Orlando Resort™ (the Hilton provides complimentary transportation), SeaWorld® Orlando, and Walt Disney World® Resort. The Hilton also is a vacation unto itself -- inner-tube on the lazy river, enjoy the water slide, two resort pools, and Splash Zone. For outdoor exercise, play tennis, volleyball, and basketball. Seven distinct restaurants, from the fine-dining experience at Spencer’s to the more leisurely Tropics Pool Bar & Grill, feature fresh Florida seafood.
Cabana Bay Beach Resort in Orlando
The retro-themed Cabana Bay Beach Resort at Universal Studios in Orlando is almost like an amusement park within itself. When you stay at this hotel, you get early park admission to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter a full hour before the theme parks open. And it’s even located within easy walking distance of both Universal Orlando theme parks and Universal CityWalk. In between visits to the parks, go for a swim in the two massive pools, where you’ll find a lazy river and a dive tower-themed waterslide. There’s also a 10-lane bowling alley and every Friday evening, expect appearances by some of your favorite movie characters.
Hawks Cay Resort in the Florida Keys
Jaunt midway down Overseas Highway in the Florida Keys and you’ll discover Duck Key, home of Hawks Cay Resort. The resort’s onsite dolphin research facility offers guests of all ages the opportunity to swim and interact with Atlantic bottlenose dolphins while learning the importance of protecting Florida's marine ecosystem. At the Coral Cay Activities & Adventure Center, kids can splash and play in the saltwater lagoon, join a game of Frisbee, make shark-tooth necklaces, sip on root beer floats and more. There are tons of opportunities for snorkeling, deep sea fishing, boating and parasailing. Plus, you’ll find six sprawling pools, including one with a pirate ship, slides, water cannons and raining palm trees. The events calendar is jam-packed all year long, so you’ll never get bored.
South Seas Island Resort in Captiva Island
Situated on the tip of Captiva Island on Florida’s Gulf Coast, South Seas Island Resort spans 330 beautiful acres including 2.5 miles of pristine beaches. The resort boasts the No. 1 sailing school in the country, so it’s the perfect place to sign the family up for lessons. Or opt for stand-up paddleboarding in search of sea turtles, manatees and dolphins. The Sanibel Sea School is an onsite non-profit organization that offers family excursions and experiential sea-based educational programs. Skully's Family Interactive Center is a great place for kids of all ages to participate in lawn games, poolside bingo, kite making, crab racing and more. And don’t forget make time to hunt for seashells; the islands of Captiva and Sanibel have some of the best shelling in the world.
Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort in Destin
Located near Destin on Northwest Florida’s Emerald Coast, Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort is like its own beach village, on 2,400 sprawling acres. The resort is so big that there’s a tram you can hop on and off to get you from place to place. If you’re into golf, putt-putt, tennis, biking, stand-up paddle boarding, kayaking, fishing, beachcombing, or parasailing, you’ll find it at this family resort. At the Village of Baytowne Wharf, soar across the lagoon on the zipline, then head over to the rope course to test your balance and agility. For younger kids, there’s a carnival-style carousel ride. Check out Club KZ, the resort’s kids club, for interactive games and activities that explore local culture and wildlife.
Loews Miami Beach Hotel in South Beach
Although South Beach is famous for its 24-hour party scene, the Loews Miami Beach offers a family-friendly atmosphere and a Our Loews Loves Kids program. The resort’s SoBe Kids Camp offers full and half-day programs packed with activities like beach sports, water balloon fights, Wii competitions, sand castle building contests and scavenger hunts. Go for a dip in the spacious pool or head to SoBe Scoops Ice Cream Shop, featuring locally churned Azucar Ice Cream, with flavors like Abuela Maria as well as classic favorites. There are plenty of watersports available like surfing lessons, snorkeling and fishing excursions, kayaking, parasailing and banana boat rides.
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