Fort Lauderdale, an often overlooked jewel of South Florida

fort-lauderdale-vacation-6Fort Lauderdale, while often overlooked for its flashier cousin Miami, is a great place to visit in South Florida. Much of the things people treasure are found in Fort Lauderdale, beautiful beaches, great shopping, and a pletera of party options are all found in the 45 minute trek up from South Beach.  In my year of living in Miami I grew to love Fort Lauderdale as a smaller, less expensive, and more convenient alternative to Miami Beach fun.  As I travelled back with kids in tow on a quick summer get away I found these endearing features to still be true for Fort Lauderdale.


One of the biggest attractions people look for when travelling to South Florida is the beach. With fairly easy parking access to great beaches and a ton of beach shopping and restaurant options the Fort Lauderdale beach is a great option when traveling with families.  A1A is a long strip so just driving along it can give you clues to the location that is perfect for you.  I like locations that are close to beach rentals so if you need a chair or some beach entertainment the option is close by.

fort-lauderdale-vacation-1 fort-lauderdale-vacation-3

fort-lauderdale-vacation-5The fun of Fort Lauderdale doesn’t just stop at the beach though. The clubs and restaurants in Fort Lauderdale are simply amazing.  Areas like Las Olas offer a centrally located one stop shop for anything you could want to get into.  No matter if it is a bar hopping night or you are ready for a dance party or just want to enjoy a great meal and people watch Las Olas is a great option.  Within 5 or 6 blocks Fort Lauderdale knows how to pack a punch of fun giving you a range of options and prices.  What I love most about the configuration is that changing the scene is not a big ordeal, you can go from country, to hip hop, to jazz and perhaps even a little salsa by blowing like the wind through the Fort Lauderdale streets.  So if you want a taste of South Florida living without the super busy hustle and bustle of Miami Fort Lauderdale is a great travel destination for grown up and family fun.

Washing away ones worries with a beach day

Day at the BeachI’m not sure if it is the heat rays or crashing waves or rolling sand but something about a beach demands you take a break from life and relax.  With every step as you make your wave from the car through the sand to the ocean you begin to drop some of the things that are usually hard to let go.   I am always more inclined to leave my computer in the car and blame the wind for my inability to bring papers with me down to the water.  With that I step away from the life whose demands I am always bowing to.  On my trip to Los Angeles at the Santa Monica Pier I was able to eat, laugh, and just enjoy the now.

The feeling of peace and fun that a beach vibrates is contagious.  It surrounds everyone who is there as you see kids play in the sand, adults crashing in the waves or catching some rays and everyone enjoying some of the most precious gifts nature has to offer.  It is a great reminder of just how beautiful and majestic nature is and a chance, if taken, to put the priorities of life in the order that counts.  By looking face to face at things that have stood the test of time, the sun and ocean and sand, you reminder just how temporary things we make important can be.  Troubles at work, problems with bills, fights with family all wash away over time and the waves and setting of the beach is a great reminder of that.  Watching my daughter and family play gave me a chance to sit back and reflect and enjoy the reason for all of the work and hustle and a reminder to be thankful for the blessings each day brings instead of being bogged down with the trouble that accompanies it.

Beach days are a great way to remember that the present is just that, a present.


JW Marriott San Antonio edition of Mommie +3

Three pre-teen girls on a weekend getaway can leave the parent more exhausted when they return than when they left. Tree Climbing Sometimes as a parent the effort it takes to entertain the kids takes the fun and relaxation out of the weekend and makes it more of a series of draining events.  Time to get away for adults can be few and far between so why not focus on a weekend getaway that combines the fun and excitement kids needs to enjoy a vacation with the rest and relaxation you need to take a break from a busy life.  I have struck the cord of balance in this quest at the JW Marriott San Antonio.

From the moment you pull in you are notice that the vacation has begun.  Crooked BranchThe long entryway into the hotel is spectacular and as you climb up the hill to the entrance you get a calming sense that it is going to be a weekend where everyone gets just what they need.  WaterfallsFrom the massive entrance doors to the grand foyer you understand that the hotel is seeking to not only live up to the phrase “Everything is bigger in Texas” but also support the idea that everything may indeed be better in Texas as well.   From the friendly staff to the luxurious rooms you realize that in destinations like this you can indeed have your cake and eat it too.

Adult Infinity PoolAlways first up on the agenda for me is the water.  The JW Marriott San Antonio outdid themselves with their water options.  For a place where everyone can gather you can start with the main pool with gorgeous views of the rolling hills and wooded areas their golf course is set upon.  With convenient lounge chairs and shade those who opt to kick their feet up and catch some rays are right at home.  For those wanting to jump right in the pool is always filled with families of all ages who are still kids at heart enjoying games.  With an outstanding selection in their poolside food and cocktail menu everyone can get the pit stop they need on their path to either gearing up or winding down.  Pool time Poolside view Chy SwimmingIf the appeal is for a bit more movement than the main pool offers then steps away you can grab an inner tube and hop into the lazy river.  The lazy river offers a great opportunity to do just what they want while still spending time all together.  I like to hop in a tube and let the river do the work as I float away, but I can also move along with the kids while they play games and hopping in and out of tubes along the way.  A great blend of relaxation and fun without the overcrowding in a river that you can find in a lot of water parks.  If you are still looking to kick it up another notch there are slides within seconds to get your heart pumping before another circle around the lazy river.

Velocity Food Velocity ScreensSecond in time but not in importance is the food.  With three restaurants in the hotel you again have the option to make everyone happy.  The Crooked Branch gives a great opportunity to grab a quick bite while still enjoying the outstanding views of the property while Velocity Sports Bar offers a one of a kind focus on sports and fun.  Ciablo Moon Brunch 6 Ciablo Moon Brunch 7 Ciablo Moon Brunch 8 Ciablo Moon Brunch 12 Ciablo Moon Brunch 2 Ciablo Moon Brunch 3 Ciablo Moon Brunch 5My favorite, Ciablo Moon, has an out of this world brunch selection with local sweets and treats that remind you of the hidden jewels of San Antonio.  Each restaurant offers their own spin but each uses fresh, quality ingredients all with a distinctive spin that makes each space and menu exceptional.

Cartwheel Time Cartwheel fun 2With all the fun and the sun and great eating and drinking everyone you take is more in the mood to work towards the purpose of any family trip…spending time with family.  With everyone happy and having the chance to do at least a little of what they want to do they are more open to also doing some things that were not at the top of the list of things to do.  SmoresThis opens the window of opportunity of spending some quality time talking, relaxing, laughing and playing and these qualities are what memories are made of.  Whether it was cartwheels in the grass, s’mores on the rocks, tree climbing, tubing or naps by the pool my weekend at the JW Marriott allowed me to rest and more importantly impart another fun family memory for my daughter where I was an active participant.  For anyone looking for a vacation that gives you the best of both worlds, few hotels offer the excellence or options you have with the JW Marriott San Antonio.