Ft. Lauderdale Florida Beach Emma and Logan Williams Atlantic Ocean

Written By: Coach Jeremy Williams

When you work hard, it is also important to play hard. For the Williams Family, we made an escape to the “Sunshine State” and landed in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida for Spring Break. Beautiful beaches, clear water, plenty of sun, and several activities filled our week. Check out some of my travel tips if you’ve considered heading to the east coast of Florida.

Logan Williams Laurie Williams Emma Williams United Airlines Spring Break Trip Ft. Lauderdale Florida 2021

The trip started with a flight out of IAH Bush Intercontinental Airport which for us is a short drive from our home. We flew United as I’ve been part of the United Club for several years now. When we arrived to the airport and whisked through security, it was surprisingly quiet, we headed to the United Club to wait on our plane.

Upon arrival to the entrance, there was a line waiting to get in. The attendant notified us that it was a 15 – 20 minute wait because they only allowed for 60% occupancy because of the pandemic. The logic was questionable since we were about to get on a completely full flight with over two hundred of our not so closest friends. Once inside the United Club, there was not the typical food and drinks and very few works. Having planned to eat before boarding we had to go to Plan B which was grabbing a Potbelly sandwich from the food court. (Side Note: The United Club was closed in Ft. Lauderdale.)

We boarded our plane. Seated from back to front because of COVID-19 practices, and they were very specific about how you had to wear your mask. The flight there and back was the most challenging part of travel during this trip.

Marriott Beach Club Ft. Lauderdale Florida Stranahan River View

Our home base for the week once we arrived to Ft. Lauderdale was the Marriott Beach Club. We purchased points on the secondary market for a 2 bedroom, 2 bathroom, living room, kitchen, and laundry room. Each room had a balcony that overlooked the Stranahan River that winds through Ft. Lauderdale and dumps into the Atlantic. The rooms on the other side of the hallway overlooked the beach and the Atlantic Ocean. The condominiums were separated from the beach by US A1A. Within 5 minutes, you could reach your chairs and umbrella on the beach (these you must rent).

Marriott Beach Club Ft. Lauderdale Florida Sunset Picture
View of the Stranhan River from Our Balcony

Our first full day, we spent a majority of the day at the beach. You could rent chairs and umbrellas. It was around $65 for two chairs and an umbrella. The makeup on the beach was primarily families and children while the college kids were further down the beach. While the beaches were full, it never felt crazy full. The water was chilly, yet once you were in the water for a few minutes it wasn’t too bad especially with that Florida sun beating down.

Logan Williams Ft. Lauderdale Florida Beach
Logan was buried by his sister in the sand. He did volunteer.

Following a day at the beach, we had dinner at Cafe Del Mar. Our table was along A1A making the people watching exceptional. This fried snapper was amazing!

Snapper Cafe Del Mar Ft. Lauderdale Florida
Fried Snapper at Cafe Del Mar

The second day we walked a short 5 minute walk to Fishing Headquarters for a 4 hour drift fishing trip in the Atlantic. It took approximately 30 minutes to navigate the canals and river to reach our first stop in the Atlantic. Most of the fishing was done in 30 – 40 ft. of water, and the deepest we fished was around 65 ft. The boat made 4-5 stops before returning. Logan, Emma, and Laurie all caught a fish, and I came up empty. It was a great time, and next time I would spend the money to do a private sport fishing tour.

Emma’s catch.
Laurie Williams Fishing Headquarters Ft. Lauderdale Florida
Laurie’s catch.
Logan’s catch.

After several hours of fishing, we built up a hunger and had dinner at Casablanca down the street from our condo. The food and service was top notch. I highly recommend this spot if you’re staying in the area.

Casablanca Restaurant Ft. Lauderdale Florida Filet Mignon Potato Croquette Gorgozola Cream Sauce Asparagus
Filet Mignon at Casablanca
Casablanca Restaurant Ft. Lauderdale Florida Blue Crab Crusted Mahi Mahi Whipped Potatoes Julienne Vegetables Beurre Blanc Sauce
Blue Crab Crusted Mahi Mahi at Casablanca
Casablanca Restaurant Ft. Lauderdale Florida Walnut Chicken Goat Cheese Garlic Spinach Whipped Potatoes Balsamic Reduction Sundried Tomatoes
Walnut Chicken with Goat Cheese and Garlic Spinach at Casablanca
Grilled Cheese French Fries Emma Williams Ft. Lauderdale Florida Casablanca
Every family has one…Grilled Cheese and French Fries at Casablanca

Tuesday and Wednesday we would leave our home base for vacation to make an overnight trip down to Key West. The drive each way was about 6 and 1/2 hours counting stops. You want to make sure you build in time for spots because there is a lot to see. Reflecting back, I would have liked to have one more day in The Keys.

From Ft. Lauderdale, it is approximately an hour and a half to reach Key Largo. Before entering The Keys, it was suggested to stop at Robert is Here Fruit Stand in Homestead, Florida. The stand had an abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables, and they even had fresh boiled peanuts. Almost everyone there were in line from a fresh fruit smoothie.

Robert is Here Fruit Stand Homestead Florida

Our next stop was to take a picture with Big Betsy the giant lobster on the island of Islamorada.

Big Betsy Giant Lobster Islamorada Florida Keys Emma and Logan Williams
Emma and Logan with Big Betsy in Islamorada

The next stop was Robbie’s on Islamorada. This is a must do stop. You have the opportunity to feed the Tarpon. These large fish will launch out of the water to snag fish right out of your hand. Beware of the pelicans that also love fish. This place was packed, and we made the decision to drive down the road and have lunch at Fiesta Key RV Resort and Marina.

Robbie's Islamorada Florida Keys Tarpon Jeremy Williams
Logan and Jeremy feeding the Tarpon.

Following lunch we made a push for Key West to make sure we would make the world famous sunset at Mallory Square. For our room overnight, we reserved a room at Almond Tree Inn which had a great location at the corner of US 1 and Duval Street. The best way to describe the Almond Tree Inn was a cross between a motel and a bed and breakfast. Upon arrival they gave us drink tickets, and for breakfast the next morning they had a great spread. The walk to Mallory Square was approximately a mile, and the walk to the Southern Most Point was approximately a half mile. Across the street was Hemmingway’s home.

Almond Tree Inn Key West Florida The Williams Family
Almond Tree Inn – Key West

The best place to watch the sunset is from Mallory Square. There were hundreds of people that lined the pier waiting for the sun to torch the water. Logan and I saw a Goliath Grouper surface right at the pier and nearly swallow a pelican. If you plan this for your trip to Key West, you will want to secure a spot 45 minutes to an hour in advance. It does get crowded.

Watch a time lapse of the sunset. It was amazing to see in person.

After watching the sunset, we quickly made are way back to Duval street to seek out dinner before our ghost tour with Ghost City Tours. We found a trailer that had Mahi Mahi sandwiches, chicken fingers for the kids, and I got my favorite, friend conch with Key Lime aioli. We ate our dinner on the ground in an alley between Duval and the famous Hog’s Breath Saloon listening to great live music.

Hog’s Breath Saloon Key West

We finished the evening in Key West going on a ghost tour that started at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church. While it was a ghost tour, it was mostly a sharing of the history of Key West. On the tour was the Robert the Doll house (known as the Artist House), and across the street from this house was Books and Books; a book store owned by Judy Blume. Our guide said that she works in the store 2 – 3 days a week.

Robert the Doll Artist House Ghost City Tours Key West Florida
The Artist House – Robert the Doll

The next morning we made the trip to the Southern Most Point in the United States, and then hiked across the island for Key Lime Pie on a Stick at the famous Kermit’s Key Lime Shoppe.

Southern Most Point United States Key West 90 Miles to Cuba The Williams Family
90 Miles to Cuba
Laurie Williams Emma Williams Key Lime Pie on a Stick Kermit's Key Lime Shoppe
Kermit’s

On the way back, we made one more stop for some local food at the famous Conch House in Key Largo. Laurie’s lobster bisque was amazing, and I, of course, had conch tacos. From Key Largo, we made the journey back to our home base for the week in Ft. Lauderdale.

Key Largo Conch House Award Winning Lobster Bisque
Lobster Bisque at the Conch House – Key Largo, Florida
Key Largo Conch House Fried Conch Tacos
Fried Conch Tacos at the Conch House – Key Largo
Key Largo Florida Conch House
A Long Way from Katy, Texas – Conch House

The next day, we headed inland to Everglades Holiday Park for an airboat tour and alligator show. The airboat tour was about 45 minutes long, and it seemed like a tour left out every 15 minutes. We saw a few alligators on the tour, and we even saw a mama with her babies.

Following the airboat tour, they had a free show with the Gator Boys as featured on Animal Planet. All the things he did make you question his sanity. It was entertaining.

Once the 15 – 20 minute show was complete, you were led to an exhibit featuring animals including alligators, a giant python, and raccoons (the raccoon was featured in some movie). They allowed you to take a free picture with a baby alligator, or for $20 you could take a picture with the albino alligator. I was proud that my entire family did this without any fear. The lady clearly told me to keep my face away from the head of the alligator. That was reassuring…

Everglades Holiday Park Ft. Lauderdale Florida Airboat Albino Alligator
Everglades Holiday Park – Albino Alligator Held by The Williams Family

After cooling off from the hot Florida sun, we made our way over to Riverfront Gondola Tours in Ft. Lauderdale. Before boarding the private gondola, we picked up a pizza and salad from Luigi’s Coal Oven Pizza and paired it with a wine for the sunset cruise. Captain William took us through the canals and up and down the Stranahan River. Captain William’s knowledge was extensive, and he shared with us the stories of the homeowners, new homes being built, and much more. If you take this cruise, insist you get Captain William. You will not regret it.

Riverfront Gondola Tours Ft. Lauderdale Florida Captain William
Riverfront Gondola Cruises – Emma and Laurie
Riverfront Gondola Tours Ft. Lauderdale Florida Captain William Canal
Riverfront Gondola Cruises – Sunset in Ft. Lauderdale
Riverfront Gondola Tours Ft. Lauderdale Florida Captain William Skyscape
Riverfront Gondola Cruises – Ft. Lauderdale Skyline

Friday was a beach day, and we had a family member drive in to spend the day with us. He recommended dinner at Taverna Opa located at Hollywood Beach south of Ft. Lauderdale on Ocean Avenue. The Greek restaurant served authentic food, and the atmosphere was the experience. Dancing on the tables along with a bridal party gone wild made for an exciting evening. We laughed and laughed the evening away.

Saturday, we boarded the plane back to Houston. We created many memories, and that is what our family loves about travel. While I encourage my people to work hard, I also encourage my people to play hard. Life should be experienced, and time passes quickly. If you’re looking for a place to get away, check out Ft. Lauderdale.

Here are some other trips I’ve reviewed in the past.

Corona-less Cruise on Norwegian Cruise Line

A Las Vegas Getaway

Orange County California – Disney, Universal, and Dolphins