Let's not bury the lede: Florida ranks high when it comes to top family vacation destinations. With a variety of gorgeous beaches, warm-weather year-round, plenty of water sports, and theme parks galore, the Sunshine State has a little something to please every member in your crew. But whether you come for Mickey or Miami's swanky scene, you'll need a place to stay -- and it's preferable if it's on a beach (it can get hot, after all). Your wish is our command. Below, we rounded up a list of top-notch beach hotels the whole brood can enjoy.
Hawks Cay Resort, Florida Keys
Hawks Cay Resort has the feel of a small village, due to its massive size and many amenities -- the property even has its own 85-slip marina. Many guests arrive by boat, as the resort is located on Duck Key, a secluded spot far from Key West's main airport. The property largely attracts families looking for a quiet vacation, thanks in part to family-friendly features such as a dolphin experience, kids' club, and multi-bedroom villas. Plus, the beach has calm waters, though some guests may be disappointed by its small size. There is not much to do outside the resort, however, due to the remote location.
The Breakers Palm Beach, Palm Beach
This sprawling 140-acre resort feels more like a Renaissance palace than a hotel. The oceanfront grounds are defined by historic architecture and elegant landscaping, and the extensive features include five swimming pools, two 18-hole golf courses, 10 tennis courts, nine restaurants, and 10 boutique shops. Kids can sign up for golf lessons, kids' zumba, and guided snorkel tours or head to the Family Entertainment Center, which features a playroom, arcade, mini-movie theater, Xbox game room, arts and crafts room, pet tortoises, outdoor playground, and a basketball court. Rental kayaks, floats, paddleboards, and two kid-friendly pools are also available to keep little ones entertained. The only major downside of The Breakers is its expensive, albeit delicious, on-site dining: A family of four could easily spend $350 a day on food, without ordering anything special. But as far as competing hotels in Palm Beach go, nothing compares to the luxury found at this iconic property.
Cheeca Lodge & Spa, Islamorada
Set on 27 acres of lush grounds, this 214-room beachfront resort draws mainly vacationing couples and families -- with enough space to cater to both. Expect plenty of on-site features, including a nine-hole golf course, a pretty beach with a long fishing pier, a full-service spa, six tennis courts, and two pools (one is for adults only and the other is a freeform family pool, with views of the beach). There's also a fun tiki bar on the beach, as well as three (pricey) restaurants that serve tasty seafood, sushi, and Italian fare. An environmentally-focused kids' club offers all sorts of activities, but it's not free. Spacious guest rooms with elegant tropical decor have private furnished balconies (some with outdoor jetted tubs), while suites add separate living rooms and some have full kitchens. The steep resort fee covers a lot, such as green fees, and use of bikes, kayaks, and fishing gear.
Sunset Key Cottages, Key West
This intimate 40-room island resort has a laid-back-but-upscale atmosphere with luxurious, beach-chic cottages and high-end features. It is located on Sunset Key, a residential island off Key West, and is affiliated with the Margaritaville Key West Resort and Marina, with which it shares some features. The hotel itself has wonderful amenities, including a lovely zero-edge pool, a gorgeous (though somewhat rocky) beach with palm trees and clear, calm waters, a pleasant spa, and free afternoon ice cream -- all of which make it an especially great haven for families with young children. However, the location, though idyllic and exclusive, might be somewhat inconvenient for travelers who want to be close to shops and restaurants (the hotel only has one on-site eatery).
South Seas Island Resort, Captiva Island
The upper-mid-range South Seas Island Resort is a 471-room family getaway and the largest property on Captiva Island. A long list of amenities make this resort stand out, including wide private beaches with hammocks and volleyball courts, a scenic yacht harbor, a nine-hole golf course, and three outdoor pools with waterslides. On-site dining is equally varied with an ice cream shop, tiki bar, and three restaurants, including one overlooking the harbor with chic outdoor seating. The property is also home to a spa, gym, a staggering list of kids' activities, and boat charters. Pleasant rooms, villas, homes, and condos have flat-screen TVs, mini-fridges or kitchens, and scenic views from furnished balconies. However, the sprawling property requires commuting by golf cart rental or the resort's trolley.
Hyatt Regency Clearwater Beach Resort & Spa, Clearwater
Hyatt Regency Clearwater Beach Resort & Spa is a 250-room upscale pink hotel located across the street from a white-sand beach. This hotel is a favorite for both families and couples, as it's packed with amenities such as a luxury spa, which offers an array of tropical facials and body scrubs, an eighth-floor pool deck, and an excellent seafood restaurant. Rooms have updated furnishings and full size-kitchens, many with private balconies overlooking the Gulf of Mexico.
Sandpearl Resort, Clearwater
Sandpearl Resort is a 253-room luxury hotel located directly on the white sands of Clearwater Beach, and is popular with families, couples, and corporate meeting groups. The waterfront restaurant, Carretta on the Gulf, is the area's only four-diamond restaurant, and guests rave about the food. Other amenities include a spa, yoga classes, a nightly beachfront pit, and an outdoor pool that overlooks the water. A kids' club is also available daily during the summer and on weekends during the winter. The best rooms overlook panoramic vistas of the Gulf of Mexico with spectacular nightly sunsets.
Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort, South Walton
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. 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: a 98-slip marina, 15 tennis courts, 19 pools, four golf courses, and over seven miles of beachfront.
Marco Island Marriott Resort, Golf Club & Spa, Marco Island
Marco Island Marriott Resort, Golf Club & Spa is an upscale 664-room resort famous for its sugary white-sand beach and family-friendly water sports. Other highlights include a spa, a fitness center, a kids' camp, and several restaurants. Outside, the North Pool has a small waterslide and fun kid's area. The resort also organizes sailing and shelling excursions, tennis clinics, and Tiki Tribe Day Camp, which includes five hours of kids' activities and lunch for a fee. Among the other kid-friendly offerings are a game room, dive-in movies at the pool, and arts and crafts. Rooms and suites are lovely and have balconies, and the ocean views are spectacular. In other words, the resort does a nice job of catering to children's needs without alienating more sophisticated guests. However, with high prices, it still charges a daily resort fee and additional fees for parking and Wi-Fi.
The Diplomat Beach Resort, Curio Collection by Hilton, Hollywood
This massive 998-room resort may lack the personality and charm of its smaller competitors, but it has extensive features. Highlights include two huge outdoor pools with cabanas and bar service, a full-service spa, five distinct restaurants, rental jet skis and kayaks, and direct access to a lovely stretch of public beach. The infinity pool has a six-inch shallow end for toddlers, and the beach is monitored by city lifeguards and has free kids toys, such as shovels and pails. Other family-oriented amenities include babysitting services and kids' menus in most restaurants. The rooms are somewhat drab for the price, but travelers stay here for the amenities, not the decor. Most family-friendly rooms are Corner Suites, which have pull-out sofas and are designed to sleep four people (every other room type sleeps two, though rollaways and cribs are available in certain rooms).
Trump International Beach Resort, Miami
An amenities-packed hotel right on the beach in Sunny Isles, the Trump International Beach Resort is more casual than other Trump properties. Limited nightlife options, plus two pools and a free kids' club, make it a better fit for families and business travelers than scene-hunting sophisticates.
TradeWinds Island Grand Beach Resort, St. Pete Beach
A sprawling, 584-room resort located directly on St. Pete Beach, TradeWinds Island Grand Beach Resort has put effort into its grounds and interior, from the palm tree-lined lobby and warmly decorated rooms to the impressive outdoor pond with fountain and covered walkways. The hotel sits on 20 acres of beachfront property and offers a number of water sports, including a giant slide, as well as several dining and entertainment options that are great for families with kids. This upscale resort even packs a bit of a value, as all modern rooms include kitchenettes, but a pesky resort fee is a major downside.
Hammock Beach Resort, Palm Coast
The 311-unit, upscale Hammock Beach Resort is located on a beautiful stretch of private beach on the Palm Coast surrounded by sprawling and immaculately maintained grounds. The property is home to a wide range of features, including two highly rated golf courses and a water park with five outdoor pools, a lazy river, and indoor pool complex. Choose from several accommodation options which include suites, villas, and vacation rentals. They're tastefully and traditionally decorated, with modern touches -- flat-screen TVs, mini-fridges, coffeemakers, and free Wi-Fi -- and with ocean-view balconies, though some units are dated and in need of an update. The extensive amenities include five restaurants, three bars (including a cigar bar), spa with sauna and steam room, a large fitness center, and eight-court tennis complex.
Fontainebleau Miami Beach, Miami Beach
After its $1 billion facelift in 2008, the Fontainebleau's 1,504 new rooms, nine pools, phenomenal spa, and gorgeous design are hard to top. Despite its sexy ads and nightclub, it's a relaxed property that attracts mostly families and convention goers. There are several shallow pools for kids to splash around in, as well as a swing for the water-shy. There is also a kids' club for 4- to 12-year-olds where instructors guide the kids through various sports, art, and drama activities. Plus, kid-friendly food can be made, on request, at any of the Fontainebleau's. And its peaceful Miami Beach location is 30 blocks from the South Beach action.
WaterColor Inn & Resort, South Walton
The WaterColor Inn & Resort is reminiscent of its name, with beach-y whites, blues, and light greens dominating the color scheme throughout the 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, including four restaurants, water sports, bike rentals, and a long wooden pathway leading to the beach. While there are several pools for sunbathing, some guests complain about the wristband and strict towel policies.
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