When families think of vacation, they often think of Florida. The Sunshine State offers a little bit of everything — from adrenaline in Orlando”s theme parks to relaxation in the Florida Keys. The state also offers a wealth of deluxe resorts with beachfront locations, refreshing pools, water sports, restaurants and more — so much that they”re worthy of a vacation themselves (but do be sure to spend some time with Mickey). These are our favorite resorts in Florida, based on editors” picks and reviews by other families.
Written by Amanda Geronikos
Hampton Inn Daytona Beach/Beachfront
Who knew a Hampton Inn could be so good? This one, renovated in 2014, is situated right on Daytona Beach. Accommodations include oceanfront balconies from which to view the sand and surf, as well as mini-fridges and microwaves. Guests enjoy complimentary breakfast and a swimming pool, and the hotel"s location just 5 miles from downtown makes it easy to get to area attractions.
If you"re heading to Fort Lauderdale, consider a stay at the Premiere Hotel. It"s not located right on the beach, but provides views of the sand and surf and is within easy walking distance of it. It attracts families with reasonably priced efficiency rooms and suites that include full kitchens and free Wi-Fi. A DVD player is available for rent, and it"s easy to get to Las Olas Boulevard, a hub for restaurants and shops.
The Aqua Hotel
Also in Fort Lauderdale, The Aqua Hotel is a boutique property with spacious, modern rooms that include kitchenettes and free Wi-Fi. Guests can rent iPads to enjoy at the resort, or bicycles when it"s time to explore the local area. It"s just 5 miles to Port Everglades, and only 8 miles to the airport, so everything is close and convenient.
BEST WESTERN PLUS Beach Resort
BEST WESTERN PLUS Beach Resort in Fort Myers hardly feels like a chain hotel, but offers the brand"s best comforts and perks: complimentary breakfast, free Wi-Fi and accommodations with mini-fridges and microwaves. The hotel also overlooks the Gulf of Mexico, providing gorgeous views from its private beach, swimming pool, playground and picnic area, complete with grills. An onsite water sports outfitter means it"s easy to access kayaks and paddle boards, and free parking adds to the appeal.
Residence Inn by Marriott Amelia Island
There are two Residence Inns on Amelia Island, but this one is our favorite. It"s an easy walk to the beach, though there"s so much to do at the hotel that you may find yourself wanting to stay back at least a day while you"re on vacation with the kids. There"s an outdoor pool and fire pit, and a food truck even comes to the resort to deliver snow cones and other treats. Breakfast and Wi-Fi are free, and full kitchens are provided in all rooms. When it"s time to leave the hotel and explore, bicycles are at the ready (for a fee).
You"re almost guaranteed to see some sort of wildlife on the water at Sanibel Moorings, located on Sanibel Island. Get up close by renting a kayak or canoe. Families also have the option to explore by bicycle (available for a fee), or relax in the swimming pool, which includes an adjacent kiddie pool. While there isn"t a restaurant onsite, families have the opportunity to prepare meals in the full kitchens provided in rooms, and restaurants are within a 10-minute drive of the hotel. Rooms also provide DVD players when it"s time to unwind.
Hampton Inn and Suites Ã¢â‚¬“ Historic Downtown Bradenton
Fun Fact: This hotel is actually listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The hotel features a touch of history -- evident in its cathedral ceilings and glass windows dating to the 1920"s -- along with a touch of the present, adding modern conveniences like complimentary breakfast, a swimming pool and free Wi-Fi to the mix. It"s also located in the heart of downtown Bradenton, providing easy access to restaurants, parks and stores, plus trips to nearby Anna Maria Island.
Southernmost on the Beach
Southernmost on the Beach might just be our favorite place to stay in Key West. The hotel is close enough to be convenient -- just one block from Duval Street -- yet removed enough that your family won"t get caught up in the party scene. Instead, you"ll enjoy a quiet oasis on the beach, with water sports and organized activities offered daily. There"s also a pool, discounted bike rentals and a few onsite options for food. Many rooms provide balconies with ocean views.
The centrally located Hilton Orlando is perfect for any trip to Orlando, whether you"re visiting for Mickey, Harry or the new I-Drive 360. When you"re not at the parks, you can enjoy a pool and lazy river; land sports, such as basketball and golf; and a spa, where special kids" treatments are offered. In peak seasons, S"mores, organized games and other activities are offered for families. Rooms include mini-fridges and Wi-Fi (the latter included in a resort fee).
MarriottÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Harbour Lake
Another great choice in Orlando, Marriott"s Harbour Lake is a pirate-themed, timeshare property, with one- and two-bedroom villas -- perfect for large groups. They include full kitchens, free Wi-Fi and washers and dryers. The kids will love the pool complex, complete with a pirate ship, plunge pool and organized games, along with a mini-golf course. The hotel offers themed programs, such as Pirate Princess Party and Kids Night Out, too. There are two food options onsite.
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