Every so often, a getaway from Milwaukee that is easy to travel to, affordable and filled with fun is a perfect "weekend away" for discovery and personal growth.
Mini-vacations also offer a fresh approach to parent-teen bonding. My teenage daughter Mia and I went to explore the Ft. Lauderdale/Miami Beach area for three days in search of locations for parent-teen travel.
We found it easiest to fly into Miami or Ft. Lauderdale for the best value in airline travel. Search both locations for your preferred dates of travel. You may find a better deal on one city or the other.
Once in Florida, the tollways can be hard to navigate, and you must pre-purchase a tollway pass or you are charged a hefty fee each time you use one. You can also use Google maps and choose the option for "without tolls" to avoid tollway costs.
If you fly into Miami, we think it is best to rent a car – though only if you wish to see the city of Miami or Ft. Lauderdale. If you are going straight to Miami Beach, you can Uber or Lyft it as the city has a trolley for easy transport up and down Ocean Drive and daily parking fees at hotels can run $25 and up per day.
Looking for relaxation and wellness at a boutique resort?
The Palms Hotel and Spa
Our first reaction of this gorgeous hotel is that this is the perfect place for a mother-daughter getaway. Our room had an oceanfront view nothing less of exhilarating. This restored property is located right on Ocean Drive in the mid-beach area that is walking distance from the famed South Beach. It is a little quaint area great for walking to restaurants.
This health-focused resort offers a 24-hour fitness room, yoga on the beach, and a signature organic herb and vegetable garden that grows produce used in the resort’s cuisine.
The ambiance of the resort feels like it is its own Caribbean island complete with tiki huts, cabanas with palm trees, lush foliage and exotic orchids. The resort’s resident parrots, Sunshine and Chance, enjoy the company of guests, especially those who come to talk to them.
The welcoming lobby boasts an open concept and greets visitors with the scent of an Aveda candle. As the only Aveda Destination Spa in Miami, treatments can be indoors or conducted in an open-air garden cabana in the outside ocean air.
4 other fun things to do in Miami Beach area
1. Art Walk Wynwood in nearby Miami: Graffiti-covered art walls make a great backdrop for selfies and gazing. The area is Boho-chic and definitely worth a visit.
2. South Beach, Mid Beach and North Beach: Each has its own charm – but the action is in South Beach. For teenagers, day exploring is recommended as some restaurants become more appropriate for adults in the evening.
3. Lincoln Road: The famous street is home to moderate and high-end shopping, global cuisine and tourist souvenirs. The free trolley service rides up and down Ocean Drive – ideal for tired walkers.
4. Our favorite restaurant for quality conversation and a nice dinner is STK. If you have not been to a STK restaurant yet, this high-end chain steakhouse is a modern and chic restaurant that serves quality cuts of steak, seafood and other choices with a cool eclectic vibe. A live DJ is on the premises along with traditional booth and table seating and is ideal for a comfortable dinner and quality parent-child conversation time. Our tip: Order the strawberry shortcake for dessert!
Looking for a quick stay on the beach and never leave your room type of resort?
B Ocean Resort
Ft. Lauderdale is less than one hour from Miami area, and it is worth a visit.
If you are looking for a beach resort to just hang around all day filled with activity, this is it. Our first impression of the B Ocean Resort is a perfect casual beach location on the Ft. Lauderdale strip where parents and teens can just hang out. One of three resorts actually located on the beach, it is situated right next to a public park and more beachfront with a very open space of the ocean. You definitely want to book an oceanfront view room or one that faces the public park for best ocean viewing.
Catering to individuals, families and business travelers, the property boasts a lot of character. Formerly known at the iconic Yankee Clipper, the resort is somewhat shaped like a boat.
There are four buildings on the property, five restaurants, in-room dining and two pools.
The beach cabanas can be rented for a fee to secure an all-day beach spot with perfect views of the ocean. The heated outdoor infinity pool is surrounded by tropical foliage and opens to the public beach with private cabanas for privacy. The pool cabanas are rather large with a couch and a beach daybed that is large enough for multiple guests. They can be reserved for the day with a $200 spending minimum. For families with multiple children and a full day rental, that is easy to do and more economical for a day at the beach than we have seen at similar resorts. There are two penthouses on the property, as well as facilities for business meetings or special events, which could be ideal for a teen birthday party celebration.
5 travel tips for teens from the Teenage Traveler, Mia Hartounian (age 15)
Both properties have plenty of natural spaces that are ideal for taking quality Instagram pictures. Teens look for locations for great selfie pictures and posts.
Both properties provide an opportunity to relax but also keep you active with in-resort activities to choose from.
Teen-friendly food options in the resort’s restaurants include plenty of fruit, smoothies, vegetable salads and coffee.
Rent a cabana and order a drink in a coconut. The experience is fun and also provides a bit of sun protection so you can stay outdoors all day.
Spend quality time with your parents and have conversations without your phone. They will appreciate your efforts and make your trip more memorable.
Marianne is a leading independent toy researcher. She has been testing and reporting on toys in the US and across the world for over twenty years. As the founder of The Toy Tips Research Institute, she has led her team to review more than 25,000 toys. Over 7,000 current Toy Tips report cards are available free to parents, grandparents and educators on toytips.com.Marianne is an adjunct professor of entrepreneurship at Marquette University where she holds a dual degree in psychology and marketing. She is a also a graduate of the Stanford Publishing Course at Stanford University.