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Florida Vacations

I'm trying to plan a family trip to Florida.  I'm looking at Miami, Panama City Beach, Destin, etc... I just have no idea how to narrow it down to a city let alone a resort/hotel.  Does anyone have any recommendations or suggestions?  I just know we want something with golfing, jetski rentals, shopping, and a dolphin interaction program nearby. 

Re: Florida Vacations

  • I personally don't think Miami is very family friendly.

    I would rec Mexico Beach (near Destin) or something near Tampa.

  • I could be very wrong but hasn't Destin been getting quite a lot of press here lately for being very family friendy?  I seem to remember an article in Southern Living not too long ago
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  • Yes, I've heard a lot about Destin recently.  As for Miami, I just think it would be a cool place to go.  I know it's probably not the most kid friendly place but we just need places that allow kids and have some sort of dolphin discovery nearby.  We don't plan on living either one in Kids Clubs or anything.  That's why the IL's are going.  :)
  • Miami is fun, I have two clients in South Florida, but every restaurant I've been to (unless it's fast food) isn't remotely kid-friendly and the beach area is more people-watching, beautiful people, etc.

    Panama City/Destin/Mexico Beach are definetly kid and family friendly.

    I love Sanibel Island as well.

    The Keys are also very family-friendly.

  • Thanks Mrs.B.  I'll check out Mexico Beach.  That's the only one I haven't looked at. 

    One question, is the water in Destin the really pretty turquoise water or is that only further east?

  • My vote for you is Destin or Sandestin... The Keys are fantastic as well... And just from my experience, the dolphin interctions usually have a 12-18 month waiting list.
  • Everything from Gulf Shores/Orange Beach, AL eastward is green/teal/turquoise blue waters.
  • WOW!  I just looked at The Keys.  It looks beautiful!
  • It's not really "beachy" -- there are only a few beaches, most of it is salt marsh, but it's beautiful, tons of snorkeling, tons of things to do (rent a bike or a scooter and tour old Key West), dolphin excursions, golf, etc.
  • Thanks Mrs.B.  You have been a great help.  I fell in love with The Keys but we really need a beachy area.  I think we will end up in Destin or Panama City Beach.  We are flying so I would like to go somewhere where we don't have to rent a car to get to our destination which it sounds like we would if we went to Destin.  My sister does work for Enterprise though so if we decide to do that at least we get 50% off.
  • Mrs B- Have you ever been to Islamorada in The Keys?  It says it has a long private beach.  We just need a small beach and then some sand for the kids.  It looks like it has everything we are looking for except you can't ride jet skis there.  The main things are the Dolphin Swim and golf.  I already called about the Dolphins and we could get in for that.  Check this place out and give me your opinion if you don't mind.  Smile


  • Yes, I've stayed on both Islamorada and nearby Marathon.  I'd rec either one.  You're going to have to get a car though to get to it from the airport and also to drive into Key West for sight seeing and such.

    I would recommend flying into Miami or Ft. Lauderdale -- and then driving down.  You'll drive 1 1/2 hours from Miami or 2 1/2 hours from Ft. Lauderdale.  You could fly into Key West and drive up (about 1-1 1/2 hours from Key West to Islamorada) but those flights are likely more expensive. 

  • I used to live in FL and as a kid we ALWAYS vacationed in Panama City for the reason that there was SO MUCH for me to do.  I loved it.  My parents went back a few years ago, and although were a little disapointed that most of the smaller hotels have been torn down and replaced by huge high rises (ruins the charm) they still loved every minute of it.  I recomend the big Holiday Inn resort down there (not the one the college kids stay at).  We also used to do Mexico Beach a lot, and although it's GORGEOUS and VERY relaxing, there was never A LOT to do there, as a kid, I found it to be very boring.  It's very unpopulated, but it does have a great resturaunt or two. 
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