Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort Rating: 4.0 Pearls
The Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort in Miramar Beach is a pretty, sprawling property with a total of 1,600 rooms. It is organized like a little town that can be broken down into four resorts and 30 separate neighborhoods -- each with different decor and price range, but all feature attractive rooms with upscale decor. Depending on the size of their group and budget, guests can choose between a standard hotel room, condo, villa, or town home. In addition to a village and market full of shops, restaurants, and entertainment, this resort is brimming with recreational activities that bring the Sandestin to the top of our kid-friendly list: 15 tennis courts, 19 pools, a kids' club, four golf courses, and over seven miles of beachfront.
WaterColor Inn & Resort Rating: 4.0 Pearls
The WaterColor Inn & Resort is reminiscent of its name, with beach-y whites, blues, and light greens dominating the color scheme throughout the luxurious lobby and rooms. The inn offers an airy and relaxing atmosphere, and sits right on a beautiful private beach. It's part of a larger resort community that's packed with amenities (but not quite as many as the Sandestin), including four restaurants, water sports, seven pools (one just for kids), free bike rentals, a kids' camp, and a long wooden pathway leading to the beach.
Margaritaville Beach Hotel Rating: 4.0 Pearls
The first hotel to open under the Jimmy Buffett's Margaritaville brand, the Margaritaville Beach Hotel offers a relaxed, tropical atmosphere right on a beautiful stretch of sandy coastline. The hotel's white and blue color palette, wicker furnishings, and palm trees add to the beachy atmosphere, as do the seasonal live entertainment, and a poolside Tiki bar. Rooms are sophisticated, clean, and airy with huge balconies, flat-screen TVs, and free Internet. The sweeping views of the white sand beach and Gulf of Mexico, viewable throughout the property and from the sleek outdoor pool, are a highlight. It attracts more couples than families, it's one of the nicest beachfront options for the kids. Rooms with two queen beds and cribs are available.
Sterling Resorts - Splash Rating: 3.5 Pearls
This 276-room, condo-style property located right on the sand in Panama City Beach is extremely kid-friendly. Beyond the bright colors and fun animal paintings, this resort also features an interactive water park, kids' club, arcade with mini bowling alley, and fun lazy river. Each of the cheerful, homey condos -- some of which can sleep up to 10 people -- offer kitchens, washer/dryers, and balconies with gorgeous views of the Gulf of Mexico.
Portofino Island Resort & Spa Rating: 4.0 Pearls
Portofino Island Resort and Spa offers a total of five Mediterranean-inspired towers with two- and three-bedroom condo units. All rooms have balconies with great views over the beaches to the Gulf of Mexico or Santa Rosa Sound. Convenient perks in the condos include fully equipped kitchens and washer/dryers. Each tower has its own outdoor pool and the resort offers a long list of water and land sports, as well as a free dolphin cruise and a floating water park. While there is no direct beach access -- the beach is across a street -- and it does not have a kids' club, its many on-site amenities including three restaurants help make it a kid-friendly property.
Shores of Panama by Oaseas Resorts Rating: 3.5 Pearls
As the name hints, the Shores of Panama by Oaseas Resorts sits right on the lovely white sands of Panama City Beach. Each of the 796 rooms offers balconies with beautiful ocean views, a full-size kitchen, and washer/dryer. A huge pool deck features a sprawling free-form pool and tall tropical palm trees, providing a tranquil feel despite the resort's size. There are special activities here for kids including face painting, movie nights, and Rock Band tournaments (although there is no kids' club).
Emerald Grande at HarborWalk Village Rating: 3.5 Pearls
The massive Emerald Grande at HarborWalk Village is a significant presence in the Destin skyline. It's perched above the shopping, dining, and entertainment destination HarborWalk Village, and offers great views of Destin Harbor. Spacious condos have balconies, full kitchens, and laundry facilities -- attracting families looking for space -- but decor can vary widely between units. Kid-friendly perks include a funky-shaped outdoor pool, a game room, and a nautical-themed playground, but the hotel does not have direct beach access (though it is right across the street).