Photo: Aqualina

How to Have a Relaxing Tropical Family Thanksgiving in South Florida

Miami Restaurants + Bars Holidays Family Travel Epic Stays
by Juliana Oct 20, 2021

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Thanksgiving is a great time to express gratitude and come together as a family, but that doesn’t mean you have to spend the long weekend over a hot oven during the cold of the impending winter.

Get out of the house and treat your loved ones to an escape in Miami instead, where autumn is a magical time of high temperatures (but not too high), beaches, and plenty of attractions to keep everyone entertained. A fun holiday in a tropical paradise will allow your family to consider all of the blessings big and small without the stress of organizing and putting together a massive dinner.

Here’s how to have a tropical, multi-generational getaway for Thanksgiving in the Magic City (and yes, if you still want a turkey feast that can be arranged).

Where to Stay

Loews Miami Beach Hotel

pool at loews miami

Photo: Loews Miami

This oceanfront resort in buzzy South Beach offers older teens the freedom to explore the nearby Lincoln Road mall, pedal along the boardwalk, or enjoy kayaking, paddle boarding, and banana boat tours. Excursions to the Everglades aren’t far away, and sess outdoorsy types can make use of the video game room or head to the Art Deco District and Little Havana. The interconnecting rooms at the Loews are slick and functional, with complimentary cribs, baby bath amenity kits, and night lights for easy sleeping. Five on-site food options mean even the fussiest eater can find something they like, and pets get their own room service menu.

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Acqualina Resort & Residences

acqualina pool miami

Photo: Acqualina

Children can roam freely at this lush beachfront resort that’s spread across 4.5 acres in Sunny Isles Beach. They will ket a kick out of the AcquaMarine program (ages 5 to 12), the soccer field, an array of waterfront activities, and scuba diving and swimming lessons. Older teens can join you at one of the three oceanfront pools or for a beauty treatment or massage at the lavish spa. Service at Acqualina is top-notch and spacious rooms boast a full-sized living area, private balconies, and massive jacuzzi tubs. Book a family beachfront dining experience of enjoy a lavish meal at one of the three restaurants on site.

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Diplomat Hotel

the diplomat hotel miami

Photo: The Diplomat/Facebook

Situated between Miami and Fort Lauderdale, the Diplomat’s fun, contemporary feel makes it easy to stay entertained with everything from beach yoga to a supervised Dip + Slide play area. Trina-Turk designed cabanas frame the beachside lagoon and infinity pools and are perfect for whiling the day away. Two grab-and-go spots and a beachside restaurant means hungry teens can eat whenever they want, with the on-site steakhouse serving as an option for dinner.

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Eau Palm Beach

eau palm beach resort miami

Photo: Murphy O’Brien

Eau Palm Beach is a self-contained kingdom that’s ideal for those who want to be together but who also appreciate some alone time. Beyond the full array of holiday activities and watersports, children can join the Aquanuts Kids Club while the older family members take advantage of the tennis courts, culinary classes, and the massive spa before reconvening by the fire pit or at a s’mores night out. Spacious rooms offer private balconies and the club-level tier comes with a personal concierge, meals, and daily pressing service. The pickiest of whims should be satisfied with the five food and drink options that offer a range of comfort food and lots of vegetarian options.

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What To Do

wynwood miami art walls

Photo: dennizn/Shutterstock

Wynwood Walls: Skip Black Friday and take a walking tour of Miami’s art district, where the open-air museum’s murals serve as background for great family photos and the marketplace offers entertainment and dining for everyone.

Miami Seaquarium: A good starting point to get the kids away from their screens and into the outdoors is the Seaquarium, a cool educational experience with shows, presentations, and up-and-close dolphin and seal encounters.

Frost Museum of Science: Plan on spending at least a couple of hours here. The Frost is full of hands-on activities for kids of all ages, and adults will also learn a thing or two at the immersive planetarium and special exhibits.

Miccosukee Village & Airboats: A visit to this park offers a great introduction to native American heritage, complete with craft demonstrations, alligator shows, and Everglades airboat tours.

Superblue: Navigating this experiential art center’s massive immersive installations will dazzle the whole family and encourage conversation.

Where to Eat

Pura Vida restaurant in miami

Photo: Pura Vida/Facebook

Pura Vida: Start the day at one of Pura Vida many locations throughout Miami with hearty açaí bowls, egg sandwiches, fresh juices and a menu for your little ones.

Caja Caliente: For a true taste of local life, enjoy a holiday dinner of tempting empanadas, lechón (pulled pork) and ropa vieja (stewed steak) at this family-run Cuban restaurant.

Yardbird: A traditional turkey feast will be available all day a this Southern eatery, along with family-sized takeout packages.

Joe’s Stone Crab: Stone crab seasons is a favorite amongst South Floridians and century-old Joe’s is iconic for serving some of the freshest claws (and fried chicken!) in town.

The Wharf: For stellar river views in downtown Miami, visit this 30,000-square-foot riverside station, where several vendors share space with food trucks, three bars, and a fish market/raw bar. Younger kids will get a kick out of arcade games, pingpong, and cornhole.

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