Attracting more than 120 million holidaymakers annually, the Sunshine State is famously home to many beautiful beaches on both the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico, and is known for its bright sunshine, tall palm trees, crystal clear turquoise waters, expansive beaches, theme parks; and resorts. And here's our list of picks (obviously by no means exhaustive) of a dozen of the best resorts - from very affordable to very exclusive, and intimate to enormous - across the state:
Beachcomber Resort & Club, Pompano Beach
At this family-owned and -friendly property just a half hour north of Fort Lauderdale and its FLL airport, just sit back and relax, listen to the surf from tall palm trees. In addition to 143 rooms/suites and a variety of apartments and villas, there's an oceanfront surf-and-turf restaurant; two outdoor pools; and two bars (one on the beach). And of course it's within easy driving distance of a menu of cultural, historical, culinary, sports, and entertainment/nightlife options both in Pompano and throughout South Florida.
Bungalows Key Largo
The Florida Keys are a magical island world apart, and the largest and the northernmost key is home to a number of fine lodgings. This one is set inside lush gardens, with a choice of bungalows (with verandahs) looking out onto the gardens or the Gulf of Mexico. It's adults-only, so perfect for romantic getaways, and all-inclusive, so you pay one flat rate for food and drinks at its five restaurants and bars as well as the use of bikes; non-motorized water activities on the thousand feet of beachfront; yoga classes; and a tiki hut with Peloton bikes and treadmills. Other amenities include two pools and jacuzzis; concierge service; 24/7 guest services; valet parking; entertainment from karaoke to calypso on the beach; a boutique shop; and a Zen Spa with five treatmen cabanas and a beachside tiki hut, along with a steam room and a plush relaxation lounge.
Never mind that this sprawling spread is nowhere near the Caribe (Caribbean Sea), this huge property certainly delivers royale treatment, especially for those in search of a wonderful, full-service family getaway within easy reach of Orlando's theme parks (with shuttle service provided). With a mix of one-bedroom suites and two-bedroom "villas," the resort also offers a raft of amenities including an island spa and numerous luxury pools where you can spend quality time. At the running trail, you can jog or walk with your kids. At this resort, you can enjoy catch-and-release fishing and also can join the large fitness centre.
Casa Del Mar Beach Resort Longboat Key
On a small island off the coast of Sarasota Springs, with a private beach and incredible views out over the Gulf of Mexico, this feels like an isolated, intimate oasis, with white sands, warm water, and lush tropical foliage adjoining. Each of the 85 individually decorated, amenity-laden condo units has two bedrooms, two bathrooms, and a full, well-equipped, and other resort highlights include a heated outdoor pool; a pair of tennis courts; and a basketball court. Numerous dining, shopping, and entertainment options are a short drive away.
Club Med Sandpiper Bay
Just in from the ocean on the St. Lucie River in the town of Port St. Lucie over on the Atlantic coast, this tropically-landscaped, family-oriented haven sits on a calm river beach, plus with two pools, two restaurants. and three bars. And Sandpiper Bay is packed with things to do - and it's all-inclusive, with more than two dozen activities and entertainment included in your rate - such as sailing, beach volleyball, tennis and basketball courts, stand-up paddleboarding, kayaking, a fitness center, nighttime shows, and a little "circus" center complete with flying trapeze. And there's also nearly another two dozen available for an additional fee, like a fine spa, boating excursions, JetSki, waterskiing, and other rentals.
Lago Mar Beach Resort and Club
This upscale ten-acre, Fort Lauderdale property with 204 Tommy-Bahama-style rooms is run by the third generation of the Banks family and located between the Atlantic and the Stranahan River. In addition to a 500-foot beach and large pool, there are four restaurants; room service; a pleasant spa; four tennis courts and a basketball court; a shuffleboard and putting courses; live entertainment; and a kids' playground. And no ridiculous "resort fee"!
Pink Shell Beach Resort & Marina
Over on the Gulf coast's Fort Meyers Beach, the pride and joy of this family oriented dozen-acre spread with205 rooms (all with kitchens or kitchenettes) is its 1,500 feet of beautiful beachfront, but there are also three heated pools, a nice little spa, and a trio of dining options. And even if you don't have your own boat, you can take advantage of the 41-slip marina here by renting a sailboat, WaveRunner (including a dolphin-spotting tour!), or kayak, or booking a fishing charter. Pink Shell is also an easy stroll from the island's commercial downtown, Times Square.
Ponte Vedra Inn & Club
Now it's time to head upstate and again over to the Atlantic coast to have a look at one of the Sunshine State's most exclusive resort grandes dames, on the beach near Jacksonville and historic St. Augustine, and founded in 1928. Despite its 95-year pedigree, this 262-room property is plenty updated for the 21st century in terms of room decor and amenities, along with an appealing abundance of services, facilities, and activities. Highlights include ten dining options; a luxurious spa with more than a hundreds services; 36 holes of golf; heated four swimming pools, a fully equipped oceanfront fitness center; watersports including kayaking and stand-up paddleboarding; a kids' playground; and an array of shops.
The Ritz-Carlton, Sarasota
Back over in Sarasota, another paragon of elegant luxury - both AAA Four Diamond and at the same time Florida Green Lodging-certified - offers 276 rooms and a great mix of both beach and downtown city life, all in classic Ritz-Carlton style. On-site amenities include five dining options; a beach club; a pair of heated outdoor pools and whirlpools; full-service salon, business center, and spa with fitness center and sauna. The resort also runs complimentary shuttles to the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club with its world-class, Tom Fazio-designed 18--hole course as well as a pair of lighted tennis courts.
Sirata Beach Resort
A bit up the Gulf coast in St. Pete Beach, a casual coastal vibe will enchant you from the moment you step into this recently renovated 13-acre resort, which although an easy stroll from downtown St. Petersburg with its varied attractions, museums, shops, restaurants, and craft breweries. There's plenty of great dining here, of course in three restaurants (two of them beachside), as well as a raft of activities and live entertainment; aquatic activities available, for example, include stand-up paddleboarding, kayaking, sailing, and dolphin-spotting cruises. And though it's also great for couples, Sirata is very much family oriented, with a "Sprouts Splash Zone" and plenty of crafts, games, and other fun stuff for kids. And by the way, it's even pet-friendly!
Tradewinds Beach Resort
Just a half hour south of St. Petersburg on laid back Anna Maria Island, this intimate, delightfully old-fashioned (and also pet-friendly) colony of lowrise pastel cottages set amid lush greenery has a pool and lies on beautiful Tortuga Beach with an array of water sports. Apart from the pool and barbecue facilities, Tradewinds is fairly short on on-property amenities, but the town of Bradenton Beach in which it's located more than makes up for that in attractions, restaurants, shops, and a panoply of fun activities. This is definitely a sweet spot to get your chill on!
Westgate Lakes Resort and Spa
Lakeside off Orlando's I-4 expressway and centrally located for access to the theme parks as well as other area attractions, this 2,162-unit complex sprawls over nearly a hundred acres and is packed with plenty of things to do that will appeal to the whole family - most notably its very own exciting water park, Treasure Cove, with161,000 gallons worth of waterslides, wave pools, lay rivers, and more. Other amenities include three restaurants and bars; seven heated pools; a state-of-the-art ftiness center and full-service spa with sauna; a business center; mini golf; tennis, basketball, and beach volleyball courts; a game room; a kids club and playground with plenty of activities; and lots of stuff to do on the lake, such as swimming, boating, kayaking, and fishing.
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