What better place to go on a fun beach getaway than the Sunshine State? With the Atlantic Ocean on one side and the Gulf of Mexico on the other, Florida certainly doesn’t have a shortage of sandy shores across the state. Whether you’re looking to catch some waves or collect a bucket of seashells, you’ll be able to find a beach that’s just right for you and your family! If you’re a Floridian frog, sure, you could easily make a day trip out of going to the beach. But if you want to venture out and explore a new beach that’s further away from home (or if you’re traveling from elsewhere!), you may need a place to crash after a day in the sun. Lucky for you, we’ve rounded up some frogtastic Florida beach hotels nearby the most hoppin’ beaches.
Our Favorite Florida Beach Hotels
We understand that there is a lot of uncertainty around planning vacations right now. You may not feel comfortable traveling out of the country, and instead you’re considering road trips or local excursions this summer. The hustle and bustle of city destinations may be out of the question for a bit, but the great outdoors could provide a safer alternative with more space to practice social distancing.
With summer right around the corner, the beach has prime vacation spot potential. You’ll need to do some digging and planning to figure out the best sand-filled destination for you. Will your teens want to go bodysurfing in the Atlantic waves, or do you need calmer Gulf Coast waters for your tadpoles to wade in? In this post, we’re hopping from coast to coast — starting in Jacksonville, all the way down to the Florida Keys and back up to the Panhandle. Get your sunscreen and beach towels ready, because it’s time to take a look at the best family-friendly Florida beach hotels.
Florida Beach Hotels Along the First Coast
Let’s begin with Florida’s First Coast! As its nickname suggests, the First Coast refers to both its geographic status and its historical significance. It’s the first coast that you come across upon entering Florida on the East Coast, and it’s home to St. Augustine, the first permanent European settlement in the United States. If trotting on a horse down the beach isn’t already on your bucket list, it should be! Amelia Island State Park is the only Florida state park that offers horseback riding on its beaches.
Hampton Inn Jacksonville Beach/Oceanfront is a more affordable option for families who want to stay at a beachfront hotel. If not hanging out at the beach, lounge by the beautiful lagoon-style pool that features a grotto with waterfalls. Free hot breakfast is served daily with fresh waffles and hearty oatmeal. Yum!
Florida Beach Hotels Along the Surf and Space Coasts
The Surf and Space Coasts are closest to Orlando, at just about an hour drive away each. From Orlando, you can drive northeast on I-4 to the Surf Coast’s Daytona Beach and New Smyrna Beach, or east on the Beachline Expressway to the Space Coast’s Cocoa Beach. Both of these coastal regions host some of the best surfing spots in the state, with New Smyrna Beach considered as having the most consistent surf. Be sure to check if there are any rocket launches scheduled at the Kennedy Space Center while you're there! You’ll get the best views at Playalinda Beach.
Hilton Daytona Beach Oceanfront Resort puts you in the middle of all the action, as it’s only a quick hop away from the Daytona Beach Main Street Pier and the Boardwalk. The Boardwalk features rides and arcade games, as well as shops and restaurants. Further down the coast at the Holiday Inn Club Vacations Cape Canaveral Beach Resort, tadpoles will love the four-story tall waterslide, lazy river and movie theater. The villas are great for families who need extra room, as they have a separate living room and full kitchen.
Florida Beach Hotels Along the Treasure Coast
The Treasure Coast gets its name from shipwrecked treasure that has washed up on its shores. Keep an eye out — much of it has yet to be recovered, so you never know if you’ll find something! Another activity that’s particularly popular in the area are guided nighttime sea turtle walks. Sea turtle nesting season takes place from March to October. If you’re lucky, you can witness a sea turtle crawl out of the ocean, dig her nest, lay the eggs and shuffle back out to sea. Keep a safe distance because sea turtles are highly protected, and disturbing one (or a nest) is illegal. For other fun things to do, check out this list of our favorite activities in Vero Beach. Other cities along the Treasure Coast include Port St. Lucie, Fort Pierce, Sebastian and Stuart.
Let the magic of Disney follow you to the beach! It shouldn’t be a surprise that one of our top Florida beach hotel picks is Disney’s Vero Beach Resort. The resort offers many tadpole-friendly hoppenings, including mini golf, campfire singalongs, teen nights and a “Turtle Troop” program. On Saturday mornings, Goofy will join you for a delicious breakfast meal! Lots of water activities are available, such as fishing lessons and surf school.
Another family-friendly beach hotel is the Kimpton Vero Beach Hotel & Spa. Feel free to bring your furry friend along because the hotel is also very pet-friendly. There are no limits on the size, weight or amount of pets! It’s closer to the main part of town, which means you’re within walking distance to many local restaurants.
Florida Beach Hotels Along the Gold Coast
Miami may have a reputation for its glamorous parties and nightlife — after all, the Gold Coast is said to be a reference to the city’s ritzy lifestyle and wealth. But that’s not exactly the case, as you can find lots of family-friendly beaches and activities in the Magic City. Its vibrant art scene and diverse culture are big tourist draws, as well. Take time to visit the Wynwood Walls if you have any aspiring artists. We’ve got more tips on visiting Miami with tadpoles in a separate post.
If you want to be in the middle of downtown Miami, the Kimpton EPIC Hotel is a family-friendly choice, thanks to its Kimpton Kids program that includes goodie bags packed with fun items and babysitting services. It’s also pet-friendly, so you don’t have to leave your furry friend alone at home.
As the only South Beach hotel that offers a kids club for tadpoles ages 4 to 12, Loews Miami Beach Hotel is another frog favorite. The oceanfront hotel has a zero-entry pool and a lounge with arcade and video games for teens. At each of the hotel’s restaurants, there are kids menus available. While you wait for your food, you can request an iPad loaded with the latest games and movies to keep the kids entertained. There is a private beach area for kids, and you’re able to use kayaks, paddleboards and boogie boards for up to 30 minutes per day for free (included in the resort fee).
Florida Beach Hotels in the Florida Keys
Take a trip to the famous string of tropical islands that make up the southernmost tip of the United States — the Florida Keys. It’s a popular destination for fishing, boating, snorkeling and scuba diving. Adventure-seekers and animal lovers will want to stay at Hawks Cay Resort on the island of Duck Key. The resort accommodations are not only for you, but it also has an ocean-fed, saltwater lagoon for a pod of bottlenose dolphins! It’s the only resort in the mainland United States that offers dolphin viewing and interactive experiences on-site.
In Key Largo, relax in paradise among palm trees, aka Key Largo Bay Marriott Beach Resort. It’s located right on the beach and has complimentary beach chairs available for hotel guests. You can also get paddleboard, bike, jet ski and kayak rentals on-site, or opt for a dolphin tour or glass-bottom boat excursion.
Florida Beach Hotels Along the Lee Island Coast
The Lee Island Coast includes the islands of Sanibel and Captiva, Fort Myers, Cape Coral, Bonita Springs and many small barrier islands in this coastal area. If you’re not careful, you’ll end up taking buckets of sea shells home from this shelling hot spot. The locals have even coined the term the Sanibel Stoop for shell hunters. Imagine your knees slightly bent, body hunched over at the waist and eyes laser focused on the ground — you’ll perfect it in no time.
For a more secluded getaway, the Hyatt Regency Coconut Point Resort & Spa at Bonita Springs is a top choice for families. Enjoy its three-acre pool area with a lazy river and five waterslides, or take the resort’s ferry across Estero Bay to Big Hickory Island for a beach day. There are also fire pits (s’mores, anyone?!), lawn games and a climbing wall for the tadpoles to tackle.
Located in Fort Myers Beach, the Pink Shell Beach Resort & Marina has direct private beach access and multiple pools, along with fun daily activities and excursions. The hotel has both fine dining and casual poolside service, but you can also easily take a free trolley into town if you want to explore the local food scene.
Florida Beach Hotels Along the Sun Coast
If Florida is the Sunshine State, then St. Petersburg is the Sunshine City. This coast is appropriately named due to its average of 361 sunny days per year. The beaches along the west coast of the state bring in crowds who enjoy the peaceful Gulf waters. If you’re looking to stay at St. Pete Beach, look no further than TradeWinds Island Grand Resort and RumFish Beach Resort by TradeWinds. These neighboring resorts have countless activities that the tadpoles can participate in. Just to name a few, Island Grand Resort boasts the High Tide Water Slide (a three-story tall and 200-foot long inflatable slide), while RumFish hosts Surf WipeOut (an inflatable surfing challenge). Registered guests of the twin hotels can use all of the combined amenities, which are included in the amenity fee. Meanwhile, both resort guests and the general public can purchase tickets to the Floating Water Park, an inflatable water park with slides and trampolines.
In Clearwater, the Sandpearl Resort sits at the edge of the coastline with its own private beach, a perfect site for family s’mores nights, sand sculpture lessons and volleyball nets. Lounge by the zero-entry pool, which is climate-controlled for year-round use and has seasonal programs, such as dive-in movies and mermaid tales. The resort has its own children’s club, Camp Ridley, where tadpoles engage in arts and crafts, scavenger hunts or photos with the camp mascot, Ridley the Sea Turtle. If you want to explore outside of the resort, Pier 60 is only a 10-minute walk away.
Florida Beach Hotels Along the Emerald Coast
The Florida Panhandle is home to the Emerald Coast, which stretches about 100 miles from Pensacola to Panama City. This area is known for its emerald-green water and sugar-white sand. At Okaloosa Island (located between Fort Walton Beach and Destin on Santa Rosa Island), The Boardwalk is a hoppin’ spot where you can find beachfront stores, ice cream shops, restaurants and lots of beach volleyball nets. Steps away, visit aquatic creatures at Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park or, if you need a break from the beach, let the tadpoles loose at Wild Willy’s Adventure Zone. After a fun-filled day, retreat back to recently renovated The Island by Hotel RL. It offers suites and pool deck rooms, movie nights by the Cabana Pool, and even a chance to meet Misty, The Island’s resident mermaid at the Grotto Pool.
Over at the opposite end of Santa Rosa Island, Pensacola Beach draws in families with dolphin tours, eco-friendly trails and Blue Angels air shows and practices, along with water activities, such as parasailing, paddleboarding and more. Holiday Inn Resort Pensacola Beach Gulf Front provides direct beach access, as well as a 250-foot lazy river pool. Larger frog squads can take advantage of the family suites, which sleep up to eight people and come equipped with video games.
That was a lot of hopping from beach to beach! Do you have any favorite Florida beach hotels that didn't make our list? Let us know in the comments below!