Do you have a question about planning a family vacation? Ask Suzanne Rowan Kelleher, the family vacations expert at About.com.
Question: I am six months pregnant with our second baby, and I have a 19-month old little girl. We would like to take a family vacation somewhere warm and toddler-friendly in the states or on an island where no passport is necessary. Ideally, we'd love to be on or close to the beach, have access to a pool, and have accommodations that will be comfortable for all 3+ of us.
I'm not sure whether a suite or kitchenette option exists out there, but it would sure be nice! We want to make sure we're somewhere where mealtimes won't be a huge ordeal. We'd hate to have to drive somewhere for breakfast, lunch and dinner; on-site options and/or a kitchenette where we can prepare breakfast and/or lunch would be amazing. Any suggestions you have would be much appreciated. We're thinking of traveling at the end of this month or next month. — Nancy H. from Alexandria, VA
Suzanne says: Congratulations and best wishes on your growing family! I hope you’ll find my shortlist of top vacations with a baby or toddler helpful in the next few years. For your upcoming trip, I’m going to focus on Florida because it is so easily accessible from Virginia and offers an incredible array of spectacular beaches.
My top pick is a Club Med resort because the chain really understands how to provide support to young families with babies and toddlers.
Club Med Sandpiper Baby Resort in Port St. Lucie, Florida, is the only Club Med property in the United States. Pricing is all-inclusive and kids under age 4 stay free. Your daughter can attend the supervised Baby Club Med program with kids her own age. Mealtimes will not be an ordeal at the resort’s child-friendly restaurants, and you’ll have 24-hour access to a babycare room equipped with bottle warmers, a microwave, fridge, mixer, and sterilizer, should you want to prepare special meals for your daughter.
The resort can even loan you a stroller if you need one. Club Med Sandpiper Bay is not set on the ocean but rather on the banks of the St. Lucie River. It does have a 400-foot beach with sailing and other water sports, as well as a swimming pool.
Need to be on the ocean? A couple of hours and the world away from crowded Orlando theme parks, Disney’s Vero Beach Resort is a very grand and quintessentially Floridian beach property that’s part of the Disney Vacation Club timeshare group. You don’t have to be a member to stay here. The resort offers a ton of free family-fun activities, from campfire sing-alongs and bubble blowing workshops to sandcastle-building and toddler craft sessions. Aside from the twice-weekly character breakfasts with Goofy, the vibe is decidedly light on Disney. Preschoolers get a fun splash area, and life jackets and pool noodles are available for free.
About three hours southwest of Orlando on dreamy Captiva Island, South Seas Island Resort offers a wide array of accommodations options, including spacious villas with separate living and sleeping areas. There are beaches on both the Gulf of Mexico and Pine Island Sound and nearly two dozen pools, including zero-entry pools perfect for little ones.
The place is large and sprawling, with the feel of an upscale, beautifully landscaped gated community.
Another fabulous pick, this time in northeast Florida, is the Omni Amelia Island Plantation Resort on Amelia Island. While there is no children's program for kids under age 4, this resort is a boon for nature lovers and wonderful to explore on foot or bike (with baby carriers, of course). The beach is lovely, and the pool area has a splash area for little ones. Accommodation options range from standard hotel rooms to suites to condo-style units.
More Florida Beach Destinations
Looking for a super laid-back Florida beach with white-sugar sands and a vibe that's as kid-friendly as can be? In southwest Florida, you'll find down-to-earth Fort Myers Beach on a skinny barrier island in the Gulf of Mexico. Read on for a roundup of the most fun attractions for families in this beach lover's paradise.
With sand like powdered sugar and the brilliant turquoise Gulf of Mexico, Destin is a gem on the Emerald Coast. Put these kid-friendly attractions on the top of your to-do list.
A stone's throw from Sarasota on Florida's Gulf Coast, Siesta Key is a laid-back gem that boasts TripAdvisor's no. 1 beach in America, among many other family-friendly attractions. Siesta Beach is indeed wonderful, but so are the island's other sugary beaches, so we encourage exploration.