Prior to taking our first vacation since the start of the COVID pandemic, I was very concerned about what traveling with our so far unvaccinated twins would look like. Would they be able to keep their masks on for the short flight to Florida? Would the airport and hotels be filled with anxiety and tension? And once we got there, would people be taking safety precautions seriously?
We arrived in Miami on a hot August morning and amazingly, the flight was easy and for the most part, stress-free. We checked into the Loews Miami Beach Hotel and once we stepped out on our balcony and saw the ocean view, we knew we had made the right decision in returning to travel.
The pool at Loews (which my son declared was “10/10!”) could have easily occupied the twins for the entire week’s vacation. That plus the fact that they had their own bedroom (adjoining ours) and a tray of milk and cookies delivered to the room set the tone for fun.
After getting some serious R&R in at the pool, hitting the beach and enjoying great food (and a tiki cocktail for mama!) at Bar Collins in the hotel, our trip was off to a great start. We also made time to visit the murals at Wynwood Walls and sought out the most authentic Cuban sandwiches we could find at Sanguich De Miami.
Getting the kids to take a break from the familiarity of chicken strips and mac n’ cheese is just one of the big upsides of traveling with them.
The next stop on our journey was Marathon, in the Florida Keys. At Isla Bella Beach Resort I actually had a moment to read a book and drink a pina colada (vacation goals achieved!) and somehow, we managed to step away from their gorgeous pools and beach to take a day trip to Key West.
The girls and boys split up for the afternoon – my husband and son went to Fort East Martello Museum to see the reportedly possessed Robert the Doll, which my son had read about on the internet, while my daughter indulged my literary wanderlust with a trip to Ernest Hemingway’s house. Afterwards, we all met up to visit Judy Blume’s bookstore (they had just finished reading “Superfudge” right before we left on our trip.) It was an opportunity to instill even more of a love of reading in them through travel.
But my favorite thing we did in the Keys was visit a secret beach my parents had taken us to when we were kids. I delighted in seeing the twins enjoy this perfect piece of the world that meant so much to me. If we had just stayed home, I never would have gotten to see their reactions to this and to experience with them one of the things I love so much about life.
Our final destination was on the other side of the state — Sanibel and Captiva islands.
The South Seas Island Resort had everything the kids could want from huge pools with giant, twisting water slides to huge cups of mint chocolate chip and cookies and cream at Scoops and Slices that we eagerly indulged in.
As the twins marveled at the sight of dolphins jumping in the water right outside of room, I was certain we had made the right decision in leaving our comfort zone and flying to Florida. The people we met in all parts of Florida were welcoming, respectful of COVID rules and eager to share everything that’s beautiful about their state.
We managed to have new adventures, create new traditions and most importantly, spend time together free of electronic distractions after a time of so much stress and uncertainty.
I hope that the twins learned that you can have fun while being cautious and that the world is, for the most part, a welcoming place that’s fun to explore.
After so many feelings of uncertainty and questions the only one I’m left with now is: Where do we go next?
Loews Miami Beach Hotel, 1601 Collins Ave., Miami Beach, Florida (877) 876-7871
Isla Bella Beach Resort, 1 Knights Key Blvd, MM 47, Marathon, Florida (305) 481-9451
South Seas Island Resort, 5400 Plantation Rd., Captiva, Florida (239) 472-5111