Have Baby Will Travel’s trip reports for Florida are organized alphabetically by city or region within the State. Simply scroll down to read them all or use the Fast Finder. Each trip report has been provided to Have Baby Will Travel in hopes of giving other parents a clearer picture of what to expect when traveling to Florida with a baby or toddler.
DAVENPORT: OMNI ORLANDO RESORT CHAMPION’S GATE
J. Yang & family (baby 4mos)
Awesome place. This was the first trip for my wife and me since we had the baby (4 month old girl). We are from NY and wanted to go somewhere that was warm and we had no plans on leaving the hotel so the property choice was important to us. We researched a lot and we were fairly certain we made the right choice but everything exceeded our expectations once we got there. The staff is professional and nice. Here are my thoughts:
- Pools: 3 which are awesome. Only used two because the third is a “quiet pool” and obviously adults only. The first is the family pool which, instead of steps leading into the pool, is sloped like a beach so you can sit in 1 foot of water with your little one and have a great time. It has a great slide (for adults too) and a few other cool features. The other pool is the lazy river, it’s great for tubing and relaxing. Only drawback is that there are no umbrellas so it’s hard to find shade. The hot Florida sun requires it but I’m told umbrellas are on the way.
- Rooms: Great. We have stayed at 5 star properties everywhere and although a little small, the rooms were well appointed, and the TVs and cable service were great (if you go out, not important, but if you plan on staying in, its a great touch). Tip: DO NOT OPEN THE BALCONY DOOR AFTER SUNDOWN!!! Your room will be full of mosquitoes. Other than that, it was great.
- Food: We ate at all the restaurants and they were all good (not great, but fine). Surprisingly, David’s Club (like a cigar bar) had the best food. Everything is really rich (at all the restaurants) and kind of pricey but what do you expect at a hotel?
- Other tips: If you have a car, go to the Walgreens or the Publix down the road and buy a cooler and buy soda, water and snacks. Having your own beverages will save a ton of money. Also, since we traveled with a baby, having those stores nearby helped tremendously.
Despite other reviews I had read, there is no anti-family bias (everyone was very gracious with our baby and catered to our needs- Our baby liked the hotel crib better than the crib at home). Also, the corporate fat-cats do take over the hotel (Orlando is a major convention center and the hotel has great business facilities). The pool was closed early once and almost again a second time (cancelled) but there are three pools in total and both times the other two were to remain open.
I would recommend this place to anyone!!!
ORLANDO: DISNEY’S BOARDWALK INN
Darcy & family
We stayed at the Boardwalk Inn in November of 2008 for 3 nights with our toddler daughter. The resort is really beautiful, spotlessly clean, with decent-sized rooms for our family.
Our room had 2 queen beds and a daybed that pulled-out into a snug bed for our daughter. The mini-fridge was great for holding juice, milk, and breakfast fixings that we brought along to save some money on eating out. The general store on the Boardwalk sells a few grocery staples at prices that are not outrageous.
I was a little alarmed as I learned while there that you should pre-book all your meals if you want to eat at specific restaurants. However, Spoodles on the Boardwalk was able to fit us in no problem for the dinner & breakfast we dropped by for and the food was very good and fairly reasonable. Overall I found all the Disney dining options that we partook in to be decent food and not as expensive as we were anticipating. Everywhere had plenty of clean highchairs, there were lots of options for feeding our toddler, and the healthy options were delicious and plentiful – so you didn’t have to have fries with every meal.
The pool(s) are lovely and big – very clean – and they provide towels. However the towels are tiny so if you like to snug up into a big fluffy towel after getting out of a pool, I’d suggest bringing your own. We found the large pool to be a little on the chilly side but my daughter had fun nonetheless and really enjoyed splashing in the toddler pool – it was warmer.
You are an easy walk to Epcot and Hollywood Studios (you can also take a boat) and the bus to the Magic Kingdom could not be easier. If you bring your own stroller, make sure it folds as they will ask you to fold it when you board the bus.
The Boardwalk Inn is one of the more expensive hotels on the Disney property, but it really is lovely and we thoroughly enjoyed our stay. The concierge was able to get us reservations at the Cinderella dinner at the Grand Floridian hotel, which was a real highlight for our daughter. I had tried for weeks to get those reservations before we left so that was a real bonus!
PALM BEACH: DOUBLETREE HOTEL PALM BEACH GARDENS
Joy & Family (baby 13mos)
We Pricelined this hotel for US$50 and received exemplary service. We were traveling with our 13-month-old and the staff went out of their way to accommodate her. For example, no charge (usually $10) brought a huge fridge to the room. The crib they provided was standard – I recommend bringing along your own blanket and bedding.
The bed, though it was a new mattress, isn’t my style but we slept well. The rooms are spacious.
The restaurant – ate the breakfast buffet for $10.95 – decent.
The bad – the water pressure in the room was horrible.
Our room faced out to the street – you could hear cars but it was tolerable. The location was excellent.
Pool looked nice.
PORT SAINT LUCIE: CLUB MED SANDPIPER
Coree & Family (baby 10mos.)
We visited Club Med in September 2006 – it was the first trip traveling with our then 10 month old son. The reason we picked Club Med was because of the excellent kids club, and I have to say we were very pleased with the level of care they provided our little one.
They have tons of activities for little ones and adults. My son has severe food allergies and food was properly labeled so I had no worries once I explained the details to the GOs. The night life is a little dead, but if you are there to relax you will have a ball! The gift shop prices are out of this world, so bring everything you need. Wal Mart is about 5 miles away if you forget something. One negative thing that we experienced on the first night is I saw a ROACH by the fruit in the restaurant. The manager saw it too and used a basket to cover it up. I was so GROSSED out, and I was so shocked that I did not confront her on it. I wish I did! So the question remains was it a Roach or a beetle or Palmetto bug. I live in FL and know the Palmetto bugs run rampant in the summer. Needless to say I prayed each time I ate, avoided the fruit area, which was hard because I love fruit. I am happy to say that I did not see anymore bugs the rest of the trip! Other than that, the food was good.
The rooms are ok, no luxury at all, but the reason why we went was for the nice babies/kids club
TAMPA BAY: NORTH REDINGTON DOUBLETREE BEACH RESORT
Heather & Family
We stayed at the North Redington Beach Doubletree Beach Resort (formerly the Hilton) for three nights in late January 2006. I booked through the corporate website and paid a rate of $179 per night for a beach front room and, with taxes, the per night cost was $200.
We stayed on the top (6th) floor. The room was tastefully and recently decorated and included a small refrigerator and coffee maker. It appeared recently renovated. Linens were good quality. The king size bed was comfortable. We requested a crib, which was delivered shortly after our arrival. The crib was metal and not so pretty but safe and serviceable. We enjoyed the beachfront balcony and sat there each morning and evening.
We rented beach loungers with sunshades each day for $20. It wasn’t until our final day that I realized the same service also rented umbrellas, which is what I really would have liked to provide shade for our infant.
According to a sign, the hotel’s pool is kept at an average temperature of 76 degrees. The pool area has lots of lounge chairs and umbrellas and was clean and well maintained. The hotel provides beach towels at the pool. The towels are worn but served their intended purpose.
The tiki bar was open each day (we were there over the weekend). My only complaint about the hotel relates to the drinks at the tiki bar. House liquors were at the very low end of the quality scale and the frozen drinks weren’t worth the cost. After learning this, we stuck to beer.
We enjoyed the sunset each evening from the tiki bar and were treated to a school of dolphins swimming right off the beach one night.
The hotel has a large, three-level deck, part of which is occupied by the bar and a separate outdoor seating area for Mango’s, the hotel’s restaurant. The largest area is filled with tables and chairs and appears to be a common area for use by hotel guests. We entertained our Florida family at the hotel and it was very nice to have an outdoor area to relax. A number of other guests appeared to be doing the same.
We ate breakfast each morning on the deck. Typical breakfast offerings and resort prices to match but the quality was very good and it was lovely to dine looking at the beach. Travelling with an infant, we liked having a good, on-site restaurant for breakfast. There were many families staying at the hotel.
Access to local restaurants is good, many selections within a 10 or 15 minute drive in either direction.
We visit family about once a year and have stayed at a number of hotels along this stretch of beach. Overall we enjoyed our stay at the hotel and will return again for our next trip.
It is worth commenting on the staff. Every staff member we encountered during our stay had a fantastic attitude. We made many requests to guest services (items for our room, business/fax services, extra parking pass for visiting family, restaurant recommendations) and all were handled quickly and professionally.
CLEARWATER: SPRINGHILL SUITES
Tuyet & Family
We traveled in April 2007 with 3 kids (ages 5, 3, and 1). The hotel is new. Room is clean and has a small fridge and microwave which we found very handy to warm the baby’s formula and milk. The breakfast buffet has almost everything for everyone. We loved the make-it-yourself waffles. The staff are very nice and accommodating.
We forgot our baby’s blanket in the hotel room and the staff quickly sent it back to us via courier the next day free of charge.
We highly recommended this hotel and would stay there again in a heartbeat.
CLEARWATER: HILTON CLEARWATER BEACH RESORT
Elizabeth & family (baby 18mos.)
I had read reviews referring to renovations and they are correct about the noise/irritation. However we were on the 8th floor and the renos were on the 3rd. We could hear some hammering etc in the day and when the construction is done it will be a huge improvement. Apart from this, we would definitely return to the Hilton in the future.
It was nicely situated on a quieter area in the hotel strip, right beside a fantastic playground in a little park. There were lots of little restaurants across the street, and we visited a different one every night. Everybody was very welcoming when we went in with our 18 month old, and the hostesses at the Japanese restaurant above the “outback” steakhouse were amazing – they even carried our daughter around so we could eat! We were a 5 minute drive from the Clearwater marine aquarium which is small but perfect for toddlers. We also visited the small but free bird sanctuary, and the Lowry Zoo (45 minute drive). All great for little ones. Don’t bother with “Crabby Bills” – extremely overpriced, low quality food, and the hostess was beyond rude when we asked for a booth (Lauren).
The Hilton rooms were clean, although the bathroom was extremely small. The housekeeping staff were amazing about changing the sheets and cleaning up after the many toddler messes we left. All staff were friendly, professional, and always helpful. Valet parking was $8 a day (self was $5) so we thought for the extra $3 it was worthwhile for the convenience.
The sand on the beach is white powder, and we rented cabanas to shade from the wind/sun, and it made for a great beach experience. There were annoying jeeps delivering drinks to people on the beach which were noisy and wasteful but otherwise it was fantastic. The pools were ok. They could be bigger, and it would have been nice if there was a toddler wading area. The pool waitress “Kirsten” was phenomenal. We had brunch every day at the hotel. It wasn’t cheap, but it was great, and we ate tons – a nice start to the day. I had read a comment about the towel person being rude but the ones we met were amazing. There was even an area with buckets, toys etc for the kids to borrow to use on the beach. There’s a “kids club” with activities but it was for older kids, and very small at that.
I think the hotel caters to business people and young families. If you’re looking for a big party, go elsewhere! But for a toddler, it was perfect. It’s not cheap either. Cabana rental was around $38 or something. But hey, it’s the Hilton, and it’s a holiday.
MADEIRA BEACH: BAREFOOT BEACH HOTEL
Corinne & Family (baby 6mos.)
Stayed here for a night with our almost-4-yr-old daughter and our 6-month-old son. Great location on Madeira Beach and an easy walk to John’s Pass with various restaurants and shops. Could do with a convenience store within walking distance, but there’s a pharmacy and a grocery store a quick drive away.
We got one of their cheap internet $89 specials and it’s a great value for the money. Room was newly (and nicely) renovated and spacious with a good layout for a family to stay comfortably. Our daughter slept on the pull-out couch (very clean) and we had the bed and there was still plenty of room for our baby’s playpen. They don’t offer any baby amenities so we brought our own. If you call to reserve they’ll pass along the number of a rental agency. Beach towels are provided, and they do have some beach chairs available to use.
The $89 internet thing is a pretty smokin’ deal, however their regular rates aren’t half bad and the rooms are lovely and clean. The tile floor might be a tad slippery when wet, but I much prefer that to icky carpet at the beach. The kitchenette area is really nicely appointed – provided dish soap and paper towels are nice touches that you don’t alway see in efficiency suites. Free wi-fi is always appreciated.
The pool is great but we questioned whether or not it was actually heated. They have a barbeque for guests to use but it was a bit of a drag that you couldn’t bring food to the pool area and eat there. The beach is lovely – soft white sand, (lots of shells so mind your step and baby’s quick little fingers) a really gentle slope into the water, and dolphins – yes dolphins! We saw at least 2 pods swim back and forth – jumping and playing as they went by. What a treat it was to see those beautiful creatures having fun in the wild.
The Barefoot Beach Hotel in Madeira Beach is great value for the money and a good choice with small kids. My only suggestion to them would be to invest in a couple of cribs and highchairs for guests’ use.
TREASURE ISLAND: SANDS OF TREASURE ISLAND BEACH MOTEL
Corinne & family
Stayed for 2 nights at the Sands of Treasure Island with our toddler daughter. You cannot beat the beach location and our room had a large balcony that overlooked the pool and beach – it was a fantastic view.
We had a studio which was very spacious with a kitchenette that came in really handy. There is a Publix down the road where we picked up breakfast & lunch stuff so we had easy breakfasts in the room and made sandwiches for lunch that we ate at the tables around the pool. We had 2 double beds that were new-ish which was a relief as most of the stuff in the room was not! You’d need to drive to the Publix but there is a convenience store across the street (Circle K?) that was open late if you needed something straight away.
We are not terribly fussy when it comes to furnishings and stuff so long as it’s clean. That said, the room had not been refurbished in a very long time, so even though it was clean, it was quite threadbare. The bathtub took a long time to drain (decades of sand being washed off, I imagine), and though it would likely have been slippery, I would have much preferred a tile floor to that of carpeting. You’d need to bring along your own portable crib for baby, but they did share the beach toys with us so we didn’t have to buy any or lug ours along.
However, the people could not have been nicer, the location was amazing, beach was lovely (lots of shells though – watch your feet!) and the pool area was absolutely spotless. My husband loved it as it reminded him of the beach motels he stayed at with his family when he was a child. For the price I thought it was decent and totally tolerable for 2 nights. A few more days would have had me wanting a bit more luxury but that’s just me!