Like a lot of New Englanders, we love vacationing in Florida. It’s easy to get to, with lots of direct flights to many different cities. As a peninsula, it has plenty of shore land with many beautiful sandy beaches. There are also so many great attractions for kids, even if you don’t want to visit a theme park. Surrounding these attractions are gorgeous resorts, filled with wonderful amenities for families. Here are our favorite Florida resorts with the family. What is your favorite?
Disclosure: We experienced some of these resorts (all except for the Ritz Carlton and the Marco Beach Ocean Resort), at no cost on various press trips. All opinions are my own.
The Best Family Resorts in Florida
Omni Amelia Island Plantation Resort
As soon as I arrived at the Omni Amelia Island Plantation Resort from the Jacksonville Airport, I knew that it was going to be a wonderful experience. The resort is located about 35 minutes from the Jacksonville airport and offers 3.5 miles of beach on 1,350 acres. In addition to the beach, you’ll find offers the largest poolscape in northern Florida (an adult-only infinity swimming pool, a 10,000 square-foot family pool with sprinkler jets, two hot tubs, and a small splash area). The resort also has a nature center, a mini-golf course, and a teen lounge. It’s a huge resort, so you could definitely spend lots of time there.
The 400 rooms offer a variety of in-room amenities including complimentary WiFi, a coffee maker, workspace, and refrigerator. Some of them have balconies with beautiful beach views.
Our favorite Walt Disney World resort is Disney’s Beach Club Resort, which is located in the Epcot resort area. It’s our favorite, not only for the location (walking distance to the Boardwalk, Epcot, and Disney’s Hollywood Studios), but for the fun, relaxed vibe. While we usually spend our Disney days at the theme parks, the Beach Club (along with its sister resort, the Yacht Club), offer a great pool area called Stormalong Bay. My kids could easily spend a day just hanging out there! We typically eat our dinners in Epcot, so it’s nice to be just a quick walk away from our resort after dinner.
I’ve been to all of the Gaylord resorts, but I especially love the Gaylord Palms for family travel. Located a short distance away from the variety of family attractions in the Orlando area, the Gaylord Palms offers a 4.5 acre glass atrium, as well as the Cypress Springs Family Fun Water Park. It’s visually impressive, and so different from your standard hotel. With 9 different food outlets, you really don’t need to leave the resort. If you stay there for your vacation, I’d recommend planning at least one day to just hang out at the resort.
World Center Marriott Resort, Orlando, FL
I’d seen the Marriott World Center resort plenty of times when I was headed to Walt Disney World, but it was only a few years ago when I had the opportunity to visit. This large resort offers 1,889 guest rooms and 120 suites, but my favorite area is the pool area. The Falls Pool Area features a kids’ splash area, a kids’ zero-entry pool, a slide tower with two, 200-foot winding water slides and one, 90-foot speed water slide, the Fall’s pool bar and grill (with delicious food), and a main pool. If you can, I’d recommend upgrading to a room with a pool view – you may even get to see fireworks! Like the Gaylord Palms, this is a resort where you’ll want to plan at least one day to just hang out at the resort.
JW Marriott Orlando Grande Lakes
Looking for a luxury resort in Orlando with a side of nature? The JW Marriott Orlando Grande Lakes is located adjacent to the Ritz-Carlton Grande Lakes on a combined 500 acres of gorgeous land. Guests of both resorts have access to all amenities, including Shingle Creek, the headwaters of the Florida Everglades. I didn’t have the opportunity to stay there during my tour, but I did enjoy checking out the beautiful pool area and the amazing spa. It’s definitely a nice oasis among the theme parks of Central Florida. You can book an eco-tour of the creek, where you’ll be guided on a kayaking excursion.
Lido Beach Resort, Lido Key
Lido Beach Resort, located about an hour from the Tampa airport and a short distance from the Sarasota airport, offers 223 recently-renovated guest rooms and suites right on the beach. This quintessential beach resort is such a great spot for a family beach vacation. This dog-friendly resort offers offers two beachfront pools (one family pool, and one adult-only pool), three jacuzzis, a sundries shop, and a small fitness center, as well as three on-site restaurants. St. Armands Circle, which is home to restaurants and shops, is a short distance away. There is plenty for kids to do in Sarasota, making it a nice spot to stay in.
The Resort at Longboat Key Club, a luxury resort in the Sarasota area, offers 223 large rooms and suites. The resort offers a pool, fitness center, tennis courts, a kids’ club, 27 holes of golf, 8 on-site restaurants, and a beautiful beach. While I loved looking at the pool from my hotel balcony, I preferred to hang out at the beach. You can easily spend multiple days there, and can rent beach loungers, beds, cabanas, and umbrellas (hotel guests receive complimentary chair rentals). I loved the beach – it’s such a beautiful spot.
When we booked our JetBlue Getaways trip to Marco Island years ago, I wasn’t familiar at all with the island. I looked at online reviews as well as prices, and ended up booking the Marco Beach Ocean Resort. This luxury resort offers a number of family amenities including an outdoor pool, beachfront access, watersports, and family suites. We spent most of our time at the resort, but when we did dine out, it was easy to walk to a few local places. We loved our stay there, and definitely want to return. Marco Island Beach is definitely one of the best Florida beaches for families. While you are in Marco Island, make sure you check out the Dolphin Study Eco-Tour and Cruise, which my kids absolutely loved.
Ritz-Carlton Key Biscayne
I visited the Ritz-Carlton Key Biscayne for a conference, and I’ve been wanting to go back with my family since then. This luxurious family resort offers two pools (including a family pool with waterslides), beachfront access, a spa and fitness center, and more. There’s also the popular Ritz-Carlton kids club, as well as water sport activities. It’s located about 20 minutes from the Miami airport, so it’s easy to access.