Planning a vacation the entire family can enjoy doesn’t have to be daunting. Here in Greater Fort Lauderdale, fun-in-the-sun activities, amenity-rich hotels, and kid-friendly restaurants are aplenty.
Beachside & City-Centric Resorts
Boasting Fort Lauderdale’s only lazy river, the Pelican Grand Beach Resort along State Road A1A is a dream vacation for you and the kids. Spend your days repeatedly looping the lazy river on an inner tube or lounging on the private beach. In the evenings, gather around the resort’s rocking chair seating area and gaze at the marvelous ocean, relaxing and recounting the day’s adventures with your family before grabbing dinner at any of the nearby restaurants lining A1A. At night, rest up for the next day at a guest room, or a luxury suite featuring a private, oceanfront balcony.
Another haven for families is the sprawling Fort Lauderdale Marriott Harbor Beach Resort & Spa, also on A1A, nestled along a quarter-mile stretch of pristine private beach. Kick-back in a spacious suite with waterfront views, dive into the lagoon-style pool or speed off on a Jet Ski or kayak. Perhaps unwind in the spacious spa for pampering treatments and amenities like a private pool, steam room, and sauna. Your options here are endless! The hotel is near Las Olas Boulevard, a perfect spot for an evening stroll to grab dinner at a trendy eatery and end the night with a sweet treat at an ice cream or gelato shop.
A little farther from the beach, but still right in the middle of all the action, the sleek Hyatt Centric Las Olas features modern rooms and a rooftop pool with eye-popping city views. The boutique hotel is within walking distance to kid-friendly attractions, including the Riverwalk, which offers bike and paddleboard rentals, the Museum of Discovery & Science, and the NSU Art Museum. The hotel is also situated near a Water Taxi stop, and you can also hop on a sightseeing cruise with Carrie B. Cruises.
The Plunge Beach Resort in Lauderdale-by-the-Sea is ideal for families looking for fun-in-the-sun activities and beachfront rooms with toes-in-the-sand access. The hotel also offers bungalows with kitchenettes for families who’d like to cook. Soak up rays on the beach, play a game of beach volleyball, or grab a hotel bike and go for a spin. Check the resort's jam-packed calendar for events like live music and beach barbeques.
In Pompano Beach, the oceanfront Fort Lauderdale Marriott Pompano Beach Resort & Spa offers a dreamy family vacation with two swimming pools and water sports accessible from the beach. The area is bursting with family-friendly attractions, from a beachfront park to picnic areas and the newly revamped pier, where you can try your luck at fishing or simply enjoy the view. Kids will love nearby Hillsboro Beach, which features a waterfront park with a backdrop of the Hillsboro Lighthouse, open to visitors once a month.
And in Hollywood, find more family fun along the Hollywood Beach Broadwalk at the Margaritaville Hollywood Beach Resort. This tropical retreat with oceanfront views features two pools and a unique aquatic attraction, the FlowRider, an adrenaline-pumping surfing simulator for kids and adults. At 5 o’clock Somewhere Bar & Grill, located on the other side of the resort on the Intracoastal Waterway, you can rent paddleboards and explore the waterway’s calm waters.
Westside Hotels & Resorts
Greater Fort Lauderdale’s west side is filled with family-friendly adventures. There are numerous family-friendly hotels in this area including the new AC Hotel Sawgrass Mills/Sunrise with AC Hotels’ signature European-style design or opt for the Bonaventure Resort & Spa with 23-acres of tropical landscaping. They offer easy access to Sawgrass Mills, the largest single-story outlet mall in the country. Besides the many shopping and dining options, don’t miss taking the kids to the Art of Illusions 3D museum here for unforgettable selfies and family photo fun. You’re also minutes away from the fabulous Florida Everglades. Airboat rides and close-up encounters with alligators and other wild creatures can be found at Sawgrass Recreation Park and Everglades Holiday Park. Hop on for horseback rides in the town of Davie at Bar-B Ranch and check for events at this western-themed town’s Bergeron Rodeo Grounds. You can feed live flamingos and see other Florida native wildlife at beautiful Flamingo Gardens. FLA Live Arena is nearby, home to the NHL Florida Panthers hockey team as well as many concerts and events.
Perched along Fort Lauderdale Beach, kids can run free at the open-air restaurant Park & Ocean situated in Hugh Taylor Birch State Park with views of A1A and the Atlantic Ocean. Order lunch or dinner off the Caribbean-Southern-influenced menu, all the while enjoying live music. Afterward, explore the park's winding trails and waterways or cross the street to the beach.
For views of the Intracoastal Waterway and delicious seafood, dine at 15th Street Fisheries located in the Lauderdale Marina. Watch as yachts pass by or dock at the marina. Your kids will love feeding the hungry tarpon that hang around the dock.
For something truly unique with built-in entertainment that will capture your little one's attention, enjoy lunch at Jet Runway Cafe, a casual restaurant at Fort Lauderdale’s Executive Airport, where diners can watch in awe as private planes take off and land. The kid's menu features flatbreads, chicken tenders, quesadillas, and a grilled cheese sandwich with tomato bisque soup.
Families with picky eaters or indecisive kids should stop by Sistrunk Marketplace, a food hall in Fort Lauderdale featuring numerous food vendors churning out everything from tacos and sushi to Southern comfort food and decadent desserts. You’ll love the distillery and brewery, both located on-site.
If your family vacation takes you to Pompano Beach, the area near the recently renovated Fisher Family Pier is sprinkled with family-friendly restaurants. Post up at the laidback Lucky Fish, a tiki-style restaurant on the beach, or make a reservation at beachy-chic Beach House Pompano, an open-air restaurant with two stories that overlooks the ocean and features a seafood-centric menu. After everyone's eaten, stroll along the beach or the pier.
And children will be in sugar heaven at Jaxson’s Ice Cream Parlour in Dania Beach, a longtime family-run restaurant that offers more than 50 flavors of ice cream and a menu with burgers, hot dogs, and sandwiches. If you’re up to the challenge, parties of at least four can try to polish off the over-the-top Kitchen Sink, which features one pound of ice cream per person. Kids will want to peruse the country store after dinner to explore the novelty toys and nostalgic candy on the shelves.
After experiencing all that Greater Fort Lauderdale has to offer, your kids will be begging to return.