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We’ve been to Key West twice with our kids and we absolutely love it there. It’s one of our favorite destinations in the country and we go there frequently just to unwind, relax and have fun. There are so many awesome things to do in Key West with kids that you could go back time and time again and never run out of activities to enjoy together as a family. Here are eight of our favorites!
1) Lunch at Sloppy Joe’s
You don’t have to be a Hemingway devotee to appreciate Sloppy Joe’s, which has been serving up Key West classics like conch fritters and grouper sandwiches since 1913. Just head across Duval Street and into its quirky interior (check out that bar!) for lunch. Your kids will love it. So will you! Get there early for an open-air table near the water and watch cruise ships sail by as you devour perfect conch chowder. As they say, time waits for no man … or kid. And there’s little better than lingering over good food while watching boats sail back and forth from Key West to Grand Cayman Island on Seven Mile Bridge. Sloppy Joe’s is also one of the best places to catch live music.
2) Butterfly garden at Key West Tropical Gardens
This little gem off of Fort Zachary Taylor Drive is home to dozens of butterfly species. Butterfly garden admission is $12 for adults and $5 for children ages 3-11, and it’s open every day except Monday. As an additional cost you can add on a 2-hour guided tour where a park employee will point out different types of butterflies and explain how they pollinate plants. Guided tours are only offered Saturday, Sunday and Mondays at 10am ($10 per person). If you enjoy butterflies or want to learn more about them, visiting Key West Tropical Gardens during your stay would be a fun option!
3) Sunset cruises aboard the Pride of America
Sunset cruises are a great way to take advantage of Key West’s beautiful weather and see the sunset over some of America’s most famous beaches. The cruises depart from Mallory Square and cost about $12 for adults and $5 for children, last between 30 minutes and an hour, and offer views of Fort Zachary Taylor Beach, Fort Zachary Taylor Park, Bahia Honda State Park, Ernest Hemingway’s House, Louie Armstrong Stadium. Some cruises include free ice cream!
4) Conch Train Trolley Tour
The Conch Train trolley tour is the best way for families to see lots of sights along one route. It’s an open-air trolley that takes a loop around most of downtown and then makes stops at all major tourist attractions like Mallory Square, Fort Zachary Taylor State Park, and other fun stops along the way.
5) Visit Dry Tortugas National Park
It’s located 70 miles west of Key West and is one of only three national parks that are accessible only by boat or seaplane (the other two are American Samoa’s National Park of American Samoa and Hawaii’s Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument). Visitors can swim and snorkel at North Key Largo, a tropical island where endangered sea turtles like to lay their eggs, as well as enjoy fresh-caught seafood dishes at Keys Fisheries Bar & Grill. In addition to all these perks, it’s also important to mention Dry Tortugas isn’t just for kids; visitors aged 13 and older pay full price for admission. If you feel like celebrating after visiting Dry Tortugas National Park , go directly to Sloppy Joe’s Bar—it’s Key West’s most famous watering hole.
6) Visit Historic Seaport Village in Key West
If you’re looking for things to do in Key West with kids, you can’t miss Historic Seaport Village. Located on Front Street, a visit is one of those you had to be there experiences. The atmosphere is fun and relaxed and it’s free! Plus, your kids will be captivated by all of the sights and sounds from more than 100 years ago. Hop aboard an old-fashioned trolley, take a water taxi across Key West Harbor or stroll around while enjoying live entertainment at times. Don’t forget to pop into Yankee Captain Candy Company where they make their own unique fudge right before your eyes—definitely worth it!
7) Tour Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum
Located in Key West, Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum is a museum dedicated to Ernest Hemingway. The museum features his old home, where he lived from 1931 to 1939 with his wife Pauline. This is not only a great attraction for historic site but also for any families who would like to see how Hemingway lived. Admission is $16/adult; children 12 and under are free. Hours are 10am-5pm daily. A visit can easily be combined with lunch at a nearby cafe. If you have time before or after your trip to Key West, another notable attraction nearby is Truman White House Visitor Center & Museum.
8) Swim in natural pools around Key West
The beautiful Caribbean water around Key West is perfect for swimming—when you’re young and when you’re old. The beaches are wide and sandy, so they’re easy to get around on. Many have pools that were formed naturally by boulders or coral reefs. Visit a historic Fort: If you visit Key West as a family, it can be fun to explore some of its historic structures. Two options nearby are Fort Zachary Taylor State Park in Key Largo and Fort East Martello Museum, which was built during World War II. Snorkel at John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park: One great thing about Key West? You can snorkel right off shore! Coral Reef State Park has two areas where you can swim among live fish while snorkeling (bring your own gear). It’s an amazing experience…and young kids love it!
9) Snorkeling at John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park
While Key West is full of great activities for older kids, there’s perhaps no place better than John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park in nearby Key Largo. This is one of Florida’s most popular snorkeling and scuba-diving destinations, and it features an underwater observatory that makes it easy for all ages to have a look at tropical fish. Bring your own gear or rent equipment onsite; swimming and snorkeling are both popular pastimes here. There’s plenty more diving off Key West, too; if you’re interested in learning how to dive yourself (or just want to take some classes), check out Dive Key West. They offer lessons and guided dives throughout Key West. You can even schedule a trip aboard their high-speed catamaran!
10) Southernmost Point & Duval Street
One of Key West’s main draws is its personality, and part of that character comes from street performers. As you stroll along Duval Street and admire all of your options, you’ll find a variety of musicians (guitarists, drummers, etc.) sharing their talents for tips—or performing without taking any payment at all. If you or one of your kids has musical talent, consider joining them on stage for an impromptu jam session! While most acts don’t accept monetary donations because they simply want to share their love of music with others, if you feel compelled to give something it will usually be accepted graciously. Have fun!
Visit the Southernmost Point for the sunset celebration. The southernmost point is only a few minutes away from downtown and is pretty easy to find. The street directly across from it is called Southard Street, so you can’t miss it! You can also reach it by car via South Roosevelt Boulevard or Eaton Street; some travelers also park on Southard Street for free and walk down to the Point itself, but there’s limited parking available along that route. If you have time before your cruise (or arrive early), stop here first!
11) Higgs Beach
Take a day trip over to Higgs Beach. It’s one of Key West’s best-kept secrets for beach lovers, as it’s about 15 minutes south of Duval Street. The northern end of Higgs Beach features thick mangroves and shallow water for kids. The southern end has plenty of space to lay out on large rocks or stretch out on towels. Don’t forget your sunscreen!
12) Key West Shipwreck Treasure Museum
Key West is famous for its shipwreck history, and one of its most famous ships was sunk off Key West on purpose. A group of businessmen sank it there because they knew it would bring more tourists—and business—to town. The museum, just north of downtown Key West, contains relics from that ship, as well as many other wrecks around Key West. Since you’re traveling with kids, you can also take them on a kayak tour or rent a paddleboat!
13) Key West Aquarium
Located within walking distance of most Key West hotels, Key West’s Aquarium holds a variety of local sea life including creatures such as spiny lobsters, eels, jellyfish and others. Another fun spot for kids, especially those who want to get up close and personal with marine life is Island Water Sports on Duval Street. This tour company offers snorkeling excursions as well as other water activities that are fun for all ages.
This is a tourist destination that kids love. It’s also a great place for history buffs! Fort Jefferson is located on Garden Key, and includes many buildings from over 150 years ago. The buildings are open for touring by boat only, and it takes a couple of hours to explore all of them. There’s some hiking available on Green Turtle Cay which is nearby, but there are no beaches on Garden Key.
14) Key West Lighthouse
When you’re thinking about things to do in Key West with kids, it’s easy to forget about one of Key West’s most spectacular attractions—the Florida Keys Lighthouse. Located at 828 North Roosevelt Boulevard, Old Town, FL 33040, it offers a fun and educational history tour. If you want something a little more lighthearted (and less likely to give your kids nightmares), consider visiting Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Odditorium instead. And when you’re done checking out lighthouses and museums, take advantage of Key West’s greatest asset: paradise.
15) Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park
Visit Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park for beautiful ocean views, nature trails, then rent a kayak for an afternoon off on Stock Island; there are some nice beaches nearby if you don’t feel like heading back right away. The park is home to Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park, which is a great place for kids to play on the beach, explore a fort and dig for buried treasure. The park also has an on-site museum and an observation tower where you can get spectacular views of Key West’s harbor and coastlines.
Key West is a unique place for all ages. There’s really something for everyone. If you’re planning on taking a trip with your entire family, Key West should be near the top of your list of vacation destinations. As you plan, check out some of these best things to do in Key West with kids!