fort lauderdale beachFort Lauderdale probably isn’t the first place families think of when planning a Florida beach vacation. This perennial party town is best known for decades of wild spring break antics. It was where the boys were in the ’60’s and where girls went wild in the ’80’s.  

b-ocean-fort-laudThe Place to B: 
Fort Lauderdale has grown up a bit since then, and the introduction of new upscale hotels like the Ritz Carlton, Hilton and W are helping it attract more than just the college crowd. My family had a blissful beach getaway weekend there last winter, when we were invited to visit the newly opened B Ocean Fort Lauderdale.  The B is the newest beachfront hotel along Fort Lauderdale’s famed strip. It’s also the latest  in what seems to be a growing trend, the one letter hotel chain.  The W opened up down the street in 2009, now there’s the hip and happening B.     

Families will enjoy being at the B. Although the pool is small and simple, luxurious (and free!) poolside cabanas are a fun place for the family to relax.  The B’s also across the street from a scenic stretch of beach, at the corner of Sunrise Boulevard and A1A. More importantly, it’s removed from the raunchiest sections of the beachfront area, known simply as “the strip”.  Although Fort Lauderdale has cleaned up the strip, there’s still a free-spirited Bourbon Street quality to certain sections. The B is several blocks from the party, and that’s a good thing if you have kids.

canoeingInto the Wild:

More fitting entertainment for a family can be found across the street from the B at Hugh Taylor Birch State Park. This 180 acre preserve can feel like your own private reserve for a mere $2 entrance fee.  My husband and 2 sons rented a canoe for $5 and explored this tropical paradise. Bike, skate and segway rentals are also a great way to explore this “Old Florida” treasure. Picnic tables along the Intracoastal waterway set the scene for a picture perfect and inexpensive family meal that will delight your kids.  Don’t forget to wave to the magnificent mega-yachts as they glide by!

Check out these cool free things to do in Fort Lauderdale with kids

If You Go

B Ocean Fort Lauderdale:
http://www.bhotelsandresorts.com/b-ocean-fort-lauderdale
(954)564-1000

Hugh Taylor Birch State Park
http://www.floridastateparks.org/hughtaylorbirch
(954)564-4521  

Andrea Guthmann is a freelance journalist focusing on family travel.  She spent many years as a writer and producer for WTTW-TV, the PBS station in Chicago.  Her travel stories have been published in the Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun-Times, Chicago Parent and on-line travel sites. 

A native Floridian, Andrea’s now a big (windy) city mom of 3, who range in age from tot to teen. After giving birth to 2 beautiful children she’s had the joy of becoming a mom again through adoption. She loves sailing Lake Michigan and visiting the world class museums and restaurants in her sweet home Chicago. Being a scenery starved city girl, she loves escaping to the outdoors during vacations and is working hard to raise 3 happy campers!