The Palms Hotel Miami and Circa 39, two family-owned hotels in mid-Miami beach offer a quiet respite from the hyperactivity of South Beach. These properties are right for families that want to spend quality time together.
Disclosure: Brands mentioned provided some consideration for the purposes of writing this review.
The Palms Hotel & Spa
This 251-room oceanfront hotel on Collins Avenue has a traditional Florida resort feel with a strong eco twist. The large, warm pool is surrounded by lounge chairs with plenty of umbrellas providing shade from the strong Florida sunshine. The pool area includes a shady sand play area just right for kids who need a little time out of the sun but still want to dig in the sand. A short boardwalk with an electronic gate leads to the hotel’s wide stretch of beach, with complimentary lounge chairs and beach towels.
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There is no kids’ club here. The resort is all about families spending time together — at the pool and on the beach.
The Palms Hotel Miami eco-friendly policies
The Palms Hotel Miami has a strong commitment to saving the planet, right down to the toilets in each guest room. The toilets have a small integrated sink over the toilet tank. Flush the toilet and the sink faucet turns on. The hand washing water drains into the toilet tank so it can be used to power the next flush.
What works for families
- The calm resort atmosphere. The Palms Hotel Miami is a long walk or short Uber ride from the South Beach crowds and activity.
- Secure beach access. This makes the resort feel safe and protected from strangers who might otherwise wander in from the beach.
- Large warm water outdoor pool surrounded by plenty of blue cushioned loungers and umbrellas.
- Beachside location. A pretty boardwalk through lush gardens leads to the wide beach, where there are plenty of blue cushioned beach chairs and umbrellas reserved for use by The Palms guests.
- Strong free wifi. Connect up to four devices per room, which is really important if you’re traveling with teens who need to stay connected.
- Poolside food deliveries from the Tiki Bar.
- Checkin is a breeze and the staff were all very friendly and accommodating.
- Baby cribs available free of charge.
- Free yoga classes on the beach. All ages and abilities are welcome. There’s nothing like listening to the surf during a down dog pose! I took a towel, but the yoga instructor had everything we needed for the class.
- Concierge to help plan city excursions.
- On-site Aveda Spa. OK, maybe this mostly works for parents. The spa offers manicures, pedicures, hair and several interesting massages. I didn’t have time to get to the spa, but I did get to use the high-quality and eco-friendly Aveda toiletries — the products are available in the guest room bathrooms.
- Cushy bathrobes. I always love a nice hotel bathrobe. It makes me feel special.
- Room service is available. That’s always a nice treat after a long day of playing hard on the beach and in the pool.
Read More: 11 Free Things to Do in Miami with Kids
What families need to know
- The standard rooms are on the small side and cots are not available. The hotel offers some “double double” room types with two double beds. But if your kids are older or you have more than two kids, you’ll need to book two adjoining rooms. Room rates cover two people per room. There is a small additional per-person fee when more than two guests are in a room.
- The hotel charges a daily resort fee and charges for valet parking.
- The inviting poolside cabanas nestled in the tropical gardens would be lovely spots to spend the day protected from the sun, but they rent for more than $100/day.
- Guest room windows do not open. For rooms with a city view, this is probably best to keep down the city and street noise. I had an oceanfront room, which meant I could look out over the lush pool area to see the beach and the Atlantic with its gently rolling waves. But the ocean view was all I had. The hotel’s eco policies prohibit open windows that can let in the Florida humidity, causing the air conditioning to work harder to keep up. It’s smart and eco friendly, but it made me a little sad to be so close to the ocean and not to be able to hear the waves and smell the salt water as I drifted off to sleep.
- There are no balconies. That means if you’re sharing the room with a little one who goes to sleep by 8pm there is nowhere for parents to get away and have a little private time, perhaps sharing a bottle of wine while basking in the ocean breeze.
- The small in-room refrigerator is a mini bar; you need to unload it if you want it to use for snacks or milk for a child.
Essensia Restaurant at The Palms Hotel Miami
Essensia is the on-site restaurant. It serves breakfast, lunch and dinner. I ate breakfast there from the buffet. It included lots of healthy choices — fruit, yogurt, oatmeal — and hot options such as scrambled eggs, breakfast potatoes, bacon and sausage. For kids, there were pancakes and waffle quarters. A European breakfast section with cheeses and cold cuts was popular with foreign guests. And the bread section had baskets of bread ranging from croissants to slices of white bread. A chef was standing by on the patio to make omelets to order.
I dined outside on the patio overlooking the large pool. Everything I tried was yummy — the fruit was perfectly ripe, the eggs fresh and the omelet cooked just right.
Breakfast is served until 11am, which means it can be more of a brunch for late sleepers.
Read More: Ultimate Family Beach Vacation Packing List
The family that owns the beachfront Palms at 3025 Collins Avenue also owns Circa 39 at 3900 Collins Ave. They are only a few blocks apart on Collins Avenue, but they couldn’t be more different.
Walking into the Art Deco Circa 39 made me feel like I was a movie star in the 1930s, waiting while the bellhop carried my trusty brown leather Samsonite suitcase. The tiny checkin desk, the art on the walls, even the ceiling fans in the guest rooms, hearken back to a time when families would have checked in for a week-long getaway at the beach.
What works for families at Circa 39
- The family friendly boutique hotel is quiet, calm and inviting. Its retro vibe exudes peace.
- The front desk workers are friendly and accommodating. When I called about a problem with my television, someone knocked on the door within minutes to fix it. Likewise, when people ventured out to the pool after a rain, staff appeared out of nowhere bearing blue cushions for the lounge chairs.
- Small outdoor swimming pool. This makes it easy to keep an eye on kids splashing in the pool from the comfort on the poolside loungers.
- Cushioned beach loungers are available to guests at the beach.
- Citi Bikes, Miami Beach’s public bicycle rental program, is a block away from the hotel. The vibe at Circa 39 is all about getting out and exploring. Renting bikes makes it fun and easy to explore the heart of Miami Beach.
- The Art Deco window coverings in my room were shutters. They didn’t do a great job of blocking out the city lights. That means kids who get scared sleeping in strange places will have some comforting light.
TraveingMom Tip: If you need it really dark to sleep, consider bringing a sleeping mask to block out the ambient light from the shutters.
What families need to know
- There is no direct access to the beach. It’s a short walk across Collins Avenue, between two buildings and over the boardwalk. So plan to bring sturdy bags to carry your beach towels and toys.
- No balconies for late night parent tete-a-tetes while the kiddos sleep.
Dining at Circa 39
The retro vibe continues at Jules Kitchen, the on-site restaurant. The breakfast buffet is served in small white-paneled room and the food is displayed on cute counters. The hot items — scrambled eggs, pancakes, bacon and potatoes — is kept hot in skillets perched on hot plates. It doesn’t get much more retro than that.
Don’t skip the baked goods — lemon cake, muffins and rich chocolate brownies. They are worth every calorie.