Drivable Destinations

After months of staring at the same walls, local residents are thinking once again about weekend getaways, at the very least ones that don’t require air travel. Resorts throughout South Florida (and beyond)—thrilled to safely open their doors to the public—are happy to oblige.

Note: All the resorts featured have implemented new policies regarding hygiene, cleanliness, social distancing and other post-COVID strategies; because many spas and fitness centers were still suspended at press time, those offerings are not referenced.



Trump International Beach Resort 18001 Collins Ave., Sunny Isles Beach About the resort: Sophistication meets comfort at this Forbes four-star property that overlooks the Atlantic Ocean. Each of the 360 spacious guest rooms and suites feature a furnished balcony; all one- and two-bedroom suites include a full kitchen (junior suites and higher have an in-room washer and dryer). In addition to its two luxury pools, families also have access to the supervised, interactive Planet Kids program (ages 4 to 12); a sports court that offers space for soccer and basketball; and a slew of water sports (jet skis, surfboards, kayaks and more). Dining options abound, from the casual beachside fare at Gili’s Beach Club & Pool Bar to the relaxed upscale vibe of Neomi’s Grill (with indoor seating and outdoor tables overlooking the pool) to casual dishes and signature cocktails at the Lobby Bar & Grill. For shopping enthusiasts, the resort is only minutes from the Aventura Mall and the Village at Gulfstream Park. Isn’t that special: Interior designer Carolina Keimig, the creative mind behind the resort’s original lobby design, has returned two decades later to infuse that same lobby with an opulence rooted in nature. Expect an earthy color scheme (bronzes, seafoam greens, blues) along with rich woods, metallics and mother-of-pearl details. Among the highlights: a honeycomb-shaped chandelier above the main seating area; an onyx back wall behind the front desk; decorative indoor plant life, including biophilic elements from a preserved moss wall; round sectionals and circular tables for intimate seating areas … Summer specials at Trump International include rates from $159. Contact: 305.692.5617; trumpmiami.com
Conrad Fort Lauderdale Beach 551 N. Fort Lauderdale Beach Blvd. About the resort: This all-suite property boasts spacious, residential-style accommodations, many of them with poolside or ocean views. The one-bedroom poolside suite with two queen beds encompasses some 1,400 square feet of living space (as well as a nearly 300-square-foot furnished lanai) with a full kitchen and separate dining room. The stylish pool deck is one of the better ones along Fort Lauderdale Beach, with daybeds and cabanas available, and light daytime bites (and cocktails) courtesy of Spinnaker Pool Grill. On the fine dining side, the locally sourced, communal dining offerings at Terra Mare have turned the restaurant into destination dining. Isn’t that special: The resort’s Summer Getaway package, good through Sept. 30, includes a waived resort charge ($40 nightly value), 50% off valet parking, a 2 p.m. late checkout and much more. Contact: 954.414.5100; conradfortlauderdale.com
The Atlantic Hotel & Spa 601 Fort Lauderdale Beach Blvd., Fort Lauderdale About the resort: The all-suite boutique property along Fort Lauderdale Beach embodies the home-away-from-home vibe enjoyed by guests looking to stay for more than just a night. The rooms are all oversized with fully equipped kitchens and private balconies overlooking either the city skyline or the Atlantic Ocean. Highlights include a fifth-floor outdoor pool with ocean views; popular SKY Bar on the same fifth-floor pool terrace; a V.I.D. (Very Important Dog) program for guests with furry friends in tow; and complimentary beach cruisers. Wild Thyme Oceanside Eatery, renowned for its fresh seafood, delights with a host of small plates (oysters, coconut conch fritters, drunken mussels, bison sliders, lamb ribs), hearty entrées (seafood paella, crispy chicken and thyme waffles), and shared specials (like the crispy seafood cone with clams, mussels, shrimp, calamari, scallops and more). Isn’t that special: Guests who plan ahead will be rewarded with a 15% off discount when making reservations more than 14 days in advance. Contact: 954.567.8020; atlantichotelfl.com
Acqualina Resort & Residences on the Beach 17875 Collins Ave., Sunny Isles Beach About the resort: The five-star Mediterranean-style oasis remains one of South Florida’s most luxurious beachfront destinations. Acqualina’s “Guest Experience Managers” can enhance any stay by curating your getaway experience—from coordinating shopping lists to booking dining reservations to customizing the private bar. Speaking of dining, standout Il Mulino New York once again is serving its traditional Italian cuisine seven days a week (the restaurant also is open for breakfast and lunch). In addition, registered dietitian Staci Shacter has collaborated with the resort on the Acqualina Diet—healthy dishes (think cauliflower pizza with Buffalo chicken and arugula or sautéed zucchini and squash noodles) that are featured on the menu at Costa Grill, gourmet Mediterranean cuisine under the palms and adjacent to the beach. Enhanced “Acqua Experiences” give families a variety of activities from which to choose, including private abstract painting by the sea. Isn’t that special: The resort, which reopened June 15, is offering a Summer Getaway special that includes 15% off the best available rate, complimentary valet parking and free internet access. There’s a minimum two-night stay requirement in the deluxe Intracoastal room category (or above). The Acqualina App gives guests the chance to order food, book cabanas, reserve amenities (and much more) online. Contact: 877.312.9742; acqualinaresort.com
Capt Hirams Resort 1580 U.S. Highway 1, Sebastian About the resort: For those seeking a laid-back, entertaining getaway to soothe the soul, this sprawling old-school property along the Indian River is sure to raise your spirits—and send you home anxious for a return visit. This is fun-loving Florida at its best, a 3-acre spread with four bars, two restaurants, a marina with 60 boat slips and a slew of watersports (kayaks, paddleboards, beach cruisers). Accommodations range from mini suites and bunk rooms to deluxe suites and superior rooms (with a panoramic view of the river). On the restaurant front, Blackfins Riverfront Grill features fresh catches and locally sourced plates (don’t miss the dirty oysters, served with caviar). One of the main attractions at Capt Hirams is the Sandbar, an outdoor, tiki-style space surrounded by coconut palms that features not one but two live music stages; it’s the perfect place to sip cold brew or tropical cocktails and truly leave your worries behind. In addition to everything else it has to offer, the resort runs eco-tours on the River King, a 45-foot pontoon boat that takes guests into the shallows of the Sebastian River and Indian River lagoon. Also, there are at least a half-dozen fishing captains available for charter trips. Isn’t that special: Capt Hirams’ offers plenty of specials and packages, including a 25% discount on any room throughout the year for Florida residents; a Friends Vacay that comes with a bottle of Champagne, as well as 25% off your room rate; and a Fun in the Sun package (through Sept. 30) that features complimentary kayak, bike or paddleboard rental and a $25 resort gift card. Visit hirams.com/Sebastian-hotel-packages for more details. … Within a mile of the resorts, guests will find two breweries and more seafood restaurants. Contact: 772.388.8588; hirams.com
Hawks Cay Resort 61 Hawks Cay Blvd., Duck Key About the resort: The largest property in the Florida Keys, encompassing more than 60 acres, features nearly 180 rooms, suites and townhome-style villas, all designed with a Caribbean island flair—and all only steps away from the ocean or one of five on-site swimming pools (there’s also a saltwater lagoon for paddleboard and kayak enthusiasts). You’re never at loss for things to do at Hawks Cay, which gives its guests access to private fishing excursions, snorkel/SCUBA expeditions, tennis—and even a chance to swim with bottlenose dolphins through its Dolp Connection program. Dining options cover the culinary spectrum—there’s steak and seafood at Sixty-One Prime; casual dockside dishes at Angler and Ale; and adult-only bar, Oasis Cay, serving specialty bites; the Hawks Cay Marketplace for guests who want to dine in; and the Tiki Grill for poolside sandwiches and salads. Isn’t that special: From August through December, Hawks Cay will offer discounted rooms rates (starting at $129 on weekdays) for members of the military, police, fire and rescue, and medical personnel. Other specials include exclusive rates for Florida residents and AAA members, pre-pay discounts, and 25% off for those who book a stay of seven or more days. Contact: 888.395.5539; hawkscay.com
Karol Hotel 2675 Ulmerton Road, Clearwater About the resort: Find refined luxury near Feather Sound in Clearwater at the newest gem of Bay area boutique hotels. Named after famed Florida developer Fred Bullard’s wife, The Karol debuted in February, just in time for the couple’s 50th wedding anniversary. The hotel boasts personalized flourishes from these long-time Pinellas residents, like K Club Bar and Bistro or the Vantage Rooftop, where the best of the Bay and downtown spreads out in endless views to be toasted with original cocktails and gourmet offerings. Enjoy the Karol’s fresh elegance, artistic refinement and savor the serenity of secluded luxury, all within easy access to the Westshore district of Tampa or the Pinellas beaches. For pure indulgence, book the Premium Bay Suite. Two king beds in two separate bedrooms divided by a shared, spacious common area. The artisan pantry delights the palate while the marbled floors and breathtaking views keep your indulged, top to bottom. Isn’t that special: Florida residents enjoy up to 35% off their room plus complimentary cocktails at the Vantage Rooftop Bar. Contact: 833.928.1437; thekarolhotel.com
The Vinoy Renaissance St. Petersburg Resort & Golf Club 501 5th Ave. NE, St. Petersburg About the resort: There’s old-fashioned R&R for the whole family at the Vinoy in Saint Petersburg. Perfect your game at the Vinoy Golf Club, once the old Coffee Pot Golf Course on Snell Island, which was redesigned by renowned golf course architect Ron Garl, or sign on for the tennis complex or Kids’ Camps. Enjoy an elegant renewal at the spa with special offerings for kids. Designed in 1923 and with a $93 million restoration and expansion in 1992, the past meets the present in luxury. With its private marina boasting boat tours of the bay, the historic charms of downtown St. Pete at your doorstep, plus the full amenities of modern hospitality, the Vinoy guarantees a memorable experience for all. Experience the very best of the Vinoy’s unique ambiance by reserving a private room at Marchand’s Bar & Grill, the Vinoy’s historic dining room. Isn’t that special: The resort’s Senior Discount knocks at least 15% off room rates. Qualified government employees and military personnel are also eligible for special rates and offers. Contact: 727.894.1000; marriott.com
Bungalows Key Largo 99010 Overseas Highway, Key Largo About the resort: This adults-only oasis, the first and only all-inclusive resort in the Florida Keys, might be the perfect post-quarantine getaway for couples and parents looking to escape for a weekend. The property, which reopened in mid-June, features 135 private bungalows spread out across 12 acres; each bungalow is designed with a bougainvillea-covered veranda, an oversized soaking tub and an outdoor garden shower (not to mention two Huffy beach cruisers for checking out resort). Amenities include a pair of swimming pools and whirlpool tubs, morning yoga classes, water sports and 1,000 feet of shoreline with beach cabanas. For an additional $30 per person, reserve one of the Floating Tiki Boats, complete with its own bartender. Dining options include Fish Tales (overlooking the water), Bogie & Bacall’s (fine dining) and Sea Senor (which meshes local seafood with the flavors of Mexico). The Hemmingway Bar, with its Old Key West-style elegance, is not to be miss—nor is the Sunset Tiki Bar (which also has a casual dining menu). Isn’t that special: Only those staying at Bungalows can access the resort’s restaurants and activities, so no outsiders venture onto the property. … The Summer in the Florida Keys promotion, through Sept. 9, provides 10% off and room rates starting at $785 (two nights, two people). Contact: 866.801.0195; bungalowskeylargo.com
Cheeca Lodge & Spa 81801 Overseas Highway, Islamorada About the resort: The iconic 27-acre private estate, an Islamorada institution since 1946, features 214 guest rooms, oceanfront suites and bungalows—including the famous George Bush Presidential Suite, with photos and memorabilia donated by the former president. Guests have access to a variety of watersports, tennis, a Jack Nicklaus-designed golf course, two family pools overlooking the Atlantic, an adults-only lap pool, and the legendary 525-foot wooden fishing pier. The resort’s flagship restaurant, Atlantic’s Edge, is renowned for its tropically inspired menu, fresh local seafood and prime steaks. At press time, Mia Cucina (serving artisan pizzas, pastas and salads), the Tiki Bar (famous for its lobster grilled cheese sandwich), and 25 South Tiki Bar (with beach-inspired bites) were all open and enforcing social distancing. Isn’t that special: The resort’s Florida Resident Rate offers 20% nightly rates with an additional 10% off all resort purchases including restaurants, spa, signature store and water sports. Average weekday rates start at $360/night and weekend rates start at $450/night. When guests book with the Florida Resident offer, weekday rates start at $288/night and weekend rates start at $360/night. Contact: 844.993.9713; cheeca.com
Frank Papandrea
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