One thing that's always been true about my kids is this: no matter what time they go to bed, they are getting up in the morning by 8 am. I was so hoping that somehow the stars would align and they would actually sleep in. That didn't happen and we were all up by 9 am (8 am Kansas City time). We grabbed a quick breakfast at the hotel, I argued with the manager about our room situation to no avail, and we made a beeline out of there.
Another thing that's always true about my kids is that they don't fight at the beach. They fight as much as any other siblings on the planet I'm sure, but when we're at the beach, they magically get along perfectly. I'd like to tell you that we definitely planned the beach day on the first day so we could take advantage of that, but really it was just because we showed up in Florida without any solid plans. I mean, yes, we made a bucket list, so we had some ideas, but we mostly just showed up in Florida with a few ideas and a rental car.
We decided to do what we do best, and that's to pick a beach at random based on no real evidence of its awesomeness. We ended up at John U. Lloyd Beach State Park. It was pretty empty since it was a Monday and the kids were pretty disappointed to find that it was a red flag (unsafe water conditions) and a purple flag (dangerous marine life) kinda day. We had big plans for going snorkeling, but decided to leave our snorkel gear in the car and be extra cautious while staying extremely close to shore.
We sunscreened up and made our way out to the sand. The beaches in Florida are all gorgeous and this one was no exception. I could barely set my bags down before all three kids were waist deep in the water. They love the beach and swimming in the ocean, but we typically spend a lot of our beach trips in Southern California since we have family out there. They love, love, love the warm water on the East Coast so much more, however, and so does their mama!
We spent our morning splashing in the waves near the shore and I swear to you I had to remind all three kids (but especially Ava) that we had to stay in close to shore about seven hundred times. It's so hard for our kids to understand that the ocean can be a dangerous place, but we managed to keep them within arm's length the whole morning.
We left the beach at lunchtime, as we realized that we hadn't eaten much breakfast. Finding places to eat when we travel is pretty difficult. Josh eats a gluten free diet and our kids are super picky, which makes finding one place to eat tricky. We ended up at a local pizzeria that offered gluten free pizza, but after we ordered our food, found out that they were out of gluten free crust. Poor Josh had to sit and watch the rest of us eat the most amazing pizza and garlic rolls, while he waited patiently.
We couldn't find a good option for him close by, so we made a grocery store run for his lunch and beach toys. The kids were eager to get back to the beach and so were we. We decided to try out a different beach, so we headed to the Fort Lauderdale beach. This time we were armed with beach toys and kites, so it was a little easier to entertain the kids since we couldn't go out super deep in the water there either (red flag).
Lia was so happy to have the sand toys. She just loves to dig in the sand and she spent a good amount of time doing just that. Max spent a lot of time flying his kite and Ava pretty much never came out of the water.
Planning the Next Step
While we were at the beach, Josh & I decided that it might be a good idea to make plans for the next day. We were still up in the air about making the trek out to Key West. On one hand, it would be really fun to drive the long bridges down to the Southern tip of the U.S., but on the other, a lot of our friends told us Key West is not the best place for families. We decided to drive down to Homestead that night, which is about 1 1/2 hours from Ft. Lauderdale. It's fairly close to the Everglades National Park Southeastern entrance, but also near the route to Key West.
We grabbed dinner on the way to Homestead and booked another hotel on Priceline (thankfully we didn't have any issues this time!). We had a few arguments in the backseat on the way to Homestead, but luckily we survived. We typically don't let our kids have a lot of screen time. At home, they are allowed 30 minutes of screen time on Saturdays and Sundays, but we relaxed those rules a little bit on this trip. Sometimes it's just easier to let them play games for a little bit in the car, so that's what we did.
Josh started getting a sore throat on Monday night and we were all pretty tired, so we crashed when we got to our hotel around 9 pm.
Total - $2500
Airfare - $1380
Car rental - $160
Food - $115
Hotel - $175
Beach toys - $15
Remaining funds - $655