There's a lot to love about the aesthetic of Miami Beach's South Beach hotels: art deco facades, palm gardens and those colorful lifeguard shacks along the beach.
Not only does the Palms Hotel & Spa provide that classic Miami appeal, it has a number of family-friendly features, including a 1.5-acre signature garden with exotic orchids and parrots.
The boutique family-owned property is situated on a large plot along the Wunder Mile at 30th and Collins Avenue, with direct access to its own slice of beach and boardwalk via a garden gate. Committed to sustainable practices, the organic garden near the pool supplies fresh produce for the restaurant. Plus, for a memorable touch, the antics of two large and colorful residents, the parrots Sunshine and Chance, provide endless entertainment by the pool.
Built in the 1930s, the 12-floor hotel was purchased by the Krause family in 1989 and went through a couple of name changes before opening under its current appellation in 2010. Recent refurbishments include smart furnishings in the 251 rooms and colorful decor in the lobby areas. The Essensia Restaurant, the Lounge and the Tiki Bar serve meals and refreshments indoors and out, with brunch on weekends and happy hour from 5 to 7 p.m. Sundays through Thursdays.
We found the Palms Aveda Spa has a wide range of relaxing treatments for parents as well as teens. My teen girls were welcome in the relaxation room, retail store, nail and hair salon and steam and hydrotherapy rooms. The only difficulty was choosing from the menu of skin care treatments and whether to do an indoor or an outdoor massage in the cabanas in the garden. The girls also had the options of joining Zumba classes and sunrise (or, more likely, sunset) yoga classes held on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays, using the workout room and taking walks along the 4-mile boardwalk accessed just outside the garden gate.
After enjoying our buffet breakfast on the terrace, we divided our days between the pool area, where we had lunch, and the hotel's beach-umbrella area in the afternoons. The ease of access between pool and beach meant we could relax and go with the flow. Our morning highlight was the arrival of the parrots, who called out to guests from their aviary.
Beyond the beach
If we needed a break from the sun, nearby excursions included the prolific murals of Wynwood Walls and child-friendly exhibits at the Frost Science Museum, both about 20 minutes away by Uber. Then, of course, there's the amazing dining in Little Havana and Little Haiti plus shopping along the pedestrian-friendly Lincoln Road Mall. The Palms concierge was very helpful in suggesting restaurant options as well as sea kayaking, fishing and snorkeling tours.
Rooms start at $249. Families who book with an American Express card get 10% off nightly rates, and children under 12 eat for free.