While your husband and kids are still snoozing, sneak out to the pool at Four Seasons Hotel Miami. The vast, tropical patio flanked by sea grape, billowy white cabanas and vined pergolas will likely be all yours. Backstroke across the gigantic (110-foot) main pool as the sun comes up, illuminating a silver jet gliding through puffy clouds set against blue sky and pastel-hued skyscrapers.
Then, crawl into one of the hammocks strung between two palm trees above the water and just listen: palms rustling in the wind; the cacophony of singing birds; two guys discussing last night’s Miami Heat game en Español. Heaven.
Miami is hot. Literally. The place sizzles with life, music, art, parties, conversation and spicy cuisine. But the beauty is you can do Relaxed Miami or Party Miami—your choice.
On the Atlantic Coast of Southeastern Florida, Miami is situated on a plain between the Everglades and Biscayne Bay. The weather is warm and mild all year round (thank you, Gulf Stream). And because the city is so close to Cuba, much of its vibrant culture is here. One of the world’s busiest cruise ports, not only does Miami have the Big City glam, it boasts gorgeous beaches with white sand and crystalline waters—a tropical paradise in the city.
*Lively Latino culture in this glitzy, balmy, pastel-hued, pulsing city on the Atlantic. Miami is a top market for Latin American art.
*Brush up on your Spanish. We heard more Spanish than English here. Fun!
*Incredible Cuban food. Just-out-of-the-water seafood. Interesting fusion. Caribbean.
*The beach. That turquoise water is incredible. Public-access beaches are state parks and near Four Seasons.
*Basketball. Watch a Miami Heat game on the bar flat-screen with diehard fans—a hoot. (Also major league football, baseball and hockey.)
*To wear neon. Or all-white. Or anything “CSI Miami”-like.
*The view. Four Seasons is the tallest building south of Atlanta: 70 storeys.
*The pool. It’s huge! And, it’s surrounded by an enormous lush patio garden with Birds of Paradise and cushy outdoor conversation areas. At the far end, a shallow pool houses a grove of palm trees with hammocks draped in between. Warning: the kids will never want to get out. Revise your itinerary accordingly.
*The ocean. It’s warm and the aqua-marine water is stunning. Go at dusk to watch the sun melt into the Atlantic as the lights of the city skyline come on.
*Water sports of all kinds.
*Walking around lively South Beach. Pick an outdoor café and people-watch.
*The tropical vibe.
*Mickey Mouse is nearby. Not too far away from Miami, Four Seasons Resort Orlando at Walt Disney World® in Lake Buena Vista (near Orlando) will open for guests next summer—and it’s located within the gates of Walt Disney World® Resort.
*Oasis in the city. A block from Biscayne Bay, Four Seasons is right in the center of downtown and its glittering towers. But the hotel feels like a resort oasis—especially that tranquil pool garden. Enjoy the best of both.
*Walk around South Beach. The nightlife sizzles here. And if you’ve got the kids with you, they’ll love taking in all the action on the street: bustling cafés, blaring music, glitzy storefronts, enticing aromas…
*Date night: (see above) South Beach, but this time without the kids. You’ll love the stylish Art Deco architecture, bustling restaurants and plush hotels. Don’t miss live music, preferably something Latino. Sip some fruity cocktails outside under the palm trees and neon. Set aside an evening for late-night drinks at the Delano South Beach. Like some kind of Baz Luhrmann set, sultry doesn’t even begin to describe it. The outside pool, flanked by votive-lit cabanas, goes on for miles.
*Private shopping tours or art tours. Ask the concierge.
*Four Seasons Resort Palm Beach is not too far away. Make it a two-stop Florida family vacation.
Orchids hanging from the trees. Or if you’re lucky, you might spot a manatee in the Biscayne. Could it be more exotic?
Above the Four Seasons pool terrace, indoor-outdoor EDGE Steak & Bar is known for its Latin-Asian fusion and farm-to-table sensibility. The charming bartender confided to us that he’s now salivating over vegetables he’d never even heard of before joining Four Seasons. Local seafood, fresh fruit and veggies, and unusual cuts of meat, star on the menu.
Chef Aaron Brooks walks the walk, harvesting from the hotel’s two-acre pool terrace. Stylish, sleek and loungey, the resto bar is pretty fun too when a Miami Heat game is on. Try the guava and cream cheese pastilitos and the Cubano pork sandwich with pickles, mustard and Swiss.
For lunch, order the refreshing Ahi Tuna Tartare with pickled shallots, watermelon and Italian parsley and the flavor-packed Grilled Shrimp over a salad of quinoa, fire-roasted corn salad, shaved fennel and tender baby spinach. The juicy EDGE burger, locally sourced, with puckery Vermont cheddar, chef’s pickles and a side of house-cut fries is a winner. Ten points for French fry presentation: in a mini metal fryer.
On the EDGE kids’ menu, go for classic kid staples: chicken fingers and the Triple Decker PB&J. Good news: children under five, accompanied by parents, eat free at EDGE and poolside Bahía.
Ask for the new Pirate Adventure through the In-Room Dining kids’ menu: a waiter shows up dressed as a pirate with a cart decorated like a ship. Not surprising, a super popular option.
*We love OTC (Over The Counter) near Mary Brickell Village—a good option for family-friendly restos. On the menu: “rustic and modern American comfort cuisine.” The kids will love the hopping ambiance and chalkboard-farm barn aesthetic.
*“Spacious and whimsical” (TripAdvisor), New York’s famed Serendipity 3 just opened its first ice cream spot in Miami, a colorful eatery on Lincoln Street. The food is fabulous, too. A huge menu including burgers, sandwiches and subs. Casual and friendly.
(See the concierge’s handout with suggested family activities to get started.)
1. Beach day.
Crandon Park in Key Biscayne is one of the best options. It’s very quiet and you’ll feel like you’re in the Caribbean. Rent umbrellas and chairs here; Four Seasons will supply pool towels.
2. The zoo.
Zoo Miami is special. Yes, there are lions and monkeys, and you’ll learn about the everglades. But, ranked No. 1 in TripAdvisor, the zoo is about safari and education. It’s by-appointment only, so a very personalized experience. About 45 minutes from the hotel.
4. Day trip.
For younger kids, try the land-sea Duck Tours, a silly, high-octane ride in an amphibious bus with a zany, costumed driver. For older kids, take a boat trip around Star and Palm Islands, passing celebrity mansions. Or, visit the Schebly Redlands boutique winery and “Robart Is Here” farm stand in Homestead, about 45 minutes away by car.
5. Outdoor rec.
Take the family for a round of golf or tennis lessons. There’s boating, sailing, deep-sea fishing expedition… you name it, it’s here. Ask the concierge.
Michelle Pentz Glave is the Have Family Will Travel editor. Before diving into communications/PR, she was a journalist for 25 years in the US and Germany including stints with The Wall Street Journal Europe, Gruner+Jahr (Bertelsman) and the Albuquerque Journal. Her work has appeared in Outside, Wired, Travel + Leisure, Sunset and Fortune. She has a Bachelor's in English from Yale and a Master's in Journalism from Columbia University. Michelle is passionate about family, food, farmers, her garden and taekwondo. She lives on Bowen Island, near Vancouver, Canada, with her husband and two kids: Sabrina, 11, and Duncan, 10.
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