People always ask me why I take vacations when I already live at the beach and honestly 10 years ago, I would have asked myself the same question. We were just about to make the move to the Outer Banks and since Corolla was always our go-to vacation spot we couldn't imagine that we would really go anywhere else on vacation. But shortly after our first year we were itching to take a vacation. It's funny how quickly this felt like home and became cluttered with the everyday life events and appointments. While we still feel like we hit the jackpot by being able to create a life here we are always looking for new beaches to explore and new waves to catch. It's so important for all of us to take a collective deep breath and put our feet up before we begin a new busy season of serving those that come to the Outer Banks for their family vacation!
Ft. Lauderdale, Florida is one of our "new" go-to vacations. Since my sister lives there, we have been there several times but this was the first time that we traveled there as a family of 5! It was about time for Eloise to visit her Auntie Anna in Lauderdale!
We absolutely loved staying with Ocean Manor Beach Resort. We love the staff and the location but the Bamboo Beach Tiki Bar and pool area is our favorite thing about this hotel! This tiki bar is so much fun and we’re able to hang out around the pool for lunch and usually end up back there for happy hour before heading out for the night. We just love the laid back vibe and the view can’t be beat! The landscaping and beautifully decorated property makes this mama feel so relaxed. Plus, delicious coffee on site!
When we first got to Ocean Manor we headed up to our room to unpack and we were so glad that we had a two bedroom suite. One of my top tips for traveling with little ones is to make sure that you have some separate space so that your vacation doesn’t have to end when they go to sleep. The separate room for the kids was so great especially since our girls go to bed by 8pm! The view from their room was amazing! I seriously love that the spa is right in the hotel which makes it extra easy for a mama to sneak away!
Other than spending time at the oceanfront pool we were trying to stay in the water as much as possible.
We rented jet skis from the hotel next door and had a great time riding in the ocean but our top goal was to do some snorkeling. There is an incredible reef just off shore and we got super lucky and saw sea turtles and tons of fish. Penny girl was on the look out for a mermaid! Turns out, I saw one but she didn't...
After a full beach day we all got cleaned up and I forced my family into letting me torture them with some updated photos! This photographer-mama loved getting to use a lifeguard stand for these!
Fort Lauderdale is more of a party scene than we usually go for especially with the kids but we found a great shopping strip right on the oceanfront. After shopping we found a place called Lulu’s for dinner and obviously, with a name like that we couldn’t resist giving it a shot. The food was yummy and the service was super quick which is a huge win in our book because the faster we can feed the crew and push bedtime... the better! :)
Afterwards we headed back to our hotel and hit the Tiki Bar for a little night cap! Even though Jason and I didn't get to have a night at the Tiki Bar together, we did trade off taking trips down to the Tiki Bar for umbrella drinks and then we'd do the walk of shame with two beds back up to our hotel room for a little date night on the balcony.
When we stay at a resort style hotel, we typically plan to spend the majority of our time there. So of course we took full advantage of the poolside lunches and beautiful beaches! The iguanas on property were a huge hit with the kids. Can you spot the iguana in the tree?
The food from Bamboo Beach Tiki Bar was so yummy and we loved having lunch around the pool. It made for the perfect little swim break for our water babies and if I could go back and eat more of these french fries right this second, I would!
We had intentions of heading south to Key Largo for a day or two during this trip for some more snorkeling and diving but the wind was awful and our offshore trip was canceled. We decided to make lemonade out of lemons and we found Extreme Action Park to spend the day at. The arcade had an indoor race track, trampoline park, ropes course, virtual reality and traditional arcade games. We spent a small fortune here but with a freezing cold day in South Florida, we were pretty stumped on what to do!
On our last day we grabbed breakfast at the Beach Cafe on the pier in Lauderdale by the Sea with my sister. I think we all agreed it was the best breakfast of the trip and reminded us so much of our very own little Nags Head Fishing Pier here on the Outer Banks!
We also had a great trip to the local lighthouse to continue with our 30 Lighthouses at 30 tour. The Hillsboro Lighthouse was beautiful and the small park that we found nearby was perfect for the kids to get some energy out before we hit the airport. Of course no one wanted to leave but back home we go!
I love that our kiddos are such travel pros. They honestly travel by air, sea, road or track better than most adults! With a tiny bit of sunshine on our faces, we boarded the plane back to Norfolk and headed back to our own beach town! Tiny Eloise lasted about 10 minutes before she was snoozing! That's the tell tale sign of a great vacation!