Florida has some unexpected lodging destinations for family reunions, weddings and friends getaways. Families of all ages can get to know each other or relive childhood memories with a week or a weekend away.
Stay in bedrooms decorated in classic game board themes at The Great Escape Lakeside Retreat. Accommodations sleep up to 45 people in rooms dedicated to Monopoly, Clue, Pictionary and Scrabble.
“Having a reunion in a game setting really helps you get to know people much better and more quickly than just sitting around the dinner table or hanging out by the pool,” says Andrew Greenstein, owner of four such resorts in Central Florida. “People always tell us what fun they had when they stayed here.”
Amenities include a TV family game show studio, a karaoke club, larger-than-life chess and human foosball. The 13-room estate in Clermont is one of four destinations Greenstein has created. Others include The Great Escape Parkside, The Sweet Escape Mansion and the Ever After Estate. Each has a full kitchen, pool, large gathering space and indoor theater.
Rentals must include the entire property.
For more information, visit OrlandoAreaLuxuryRentals.com or call 352-250-4220.
Just south of Englewood on the Gulf Coast barrier island of Manasota Key, the Pearl Beach Inn offers low-rise multifamily condos and apartments. Reachable by a two-lane road on the south end of the island, there are no high rises or traffic lights. The pace is relaxed with beachfront rooms, good shelling and plenty of wildlife.
For more information, visit www.pearlbeachinn.com or call 941-473-2361.
For a different kind of gathering in the Panhandle, Grayton Beach State Park and Topsail Preserve State Park both offer glamping. Canvas tents include queen beds, area rugs, couches, interior lighting and all the comforts of home. Visit fancycamps.com or call 850-628-9696.
The Daily Meal’s website says it is worth the drive to Dania Beach in Broward County for ice cream at Jaxson’s Ice Cream Parlour and Restaurant. Even if you’re not into turtle sundaes and banana splits, browse the store’s huge collection of rural Americana memorabilia and expansive license plate collection.
Dania Beach’s Secret Woods Nature Center is a great place to walk off the calories and see butterflies and wildlife at the same time.
Mayport’s Safe Harbor Seafood Market and Restaurant made the Cheapism list of Best Seafood in Florida. While in this part of the state, tour Kingsley Plantation (www.nps.gov) or the St. Johns River Lighthouse.
Johnnyjet.com travel website is filled with tips, recommendations and information about travel, whether staying in state or taking a trip around the world. Here are some helpful hints:
- Do you ever wish you could talk with a real person instead of filling out an online form? Go to gethuman.com and fill in the company name.
- If staying in a hotel, try using a food delivery service instead of room service. You will save a bundle and have a wider choice of cuisines.
- Considering a cruise? Check out wholesale clubs like Sams and Costco for deals.
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Florida native and travel enthusiast Pamela A. Keene is a freelance journalist who specializes in travel, gardening, personality and feature writing. She is also a photographer and accomplished sailor. Her website is www.pamelakeene.com.