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I’m sure when people think Key West, Florida they picture naked, drunk people on Duval Street and a never-ending party… that may happen during Fantasy Fest (Google it, but totally NSFW), but during the day, it really is a great family vacation destination! Here is our list of things to do in Key West with kids!
Table of Contents
- Key West Aquarium
- Dry Tortugas National Park
- Fury Ultimate Adventure
- Conch Train Tour
- Shipwreck Treasure Museum
- The Turtle Hospital
- Glazed Donuts
- Mallory Square Sunset Celebration
- Check out the video of our day with kids in Key West!
- Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park
- Florida Keys Eco Discovery Center
- Southernmost Point
- Smathers Beach
- Lagerheads Beach Bar
- Island Dogs
- Casa Marina
- Higgs Beach
- Barefoot Billy’s Jet Skiing
- Key West Butterfly Conservatory
- Truman Little White House
- The Audubon House and Tropical Gardens
- Key West Lighthouse
- Where To Stay
- RV Parks
The Key West Aquarium isn’t huge, but in true Key West style, you can get up and close and personal with sharks. Yup, they have an open shark tank that you can literally fall into. Plus, you can feed the sharks!
They also have a couple of touch tanks and do lots of shows throughout the day so make sure to grab a schedule so you can catch the shows that interest you. We recommend feeding the sharks and also watching them feed the big sharks in the outside tank.
If you check out multiple shows while you are there you can easily spend an afternoon checking out the fish, experiencing the multiple fish tanks, and watching the shows.
Check out our video of our time at the Key West Aquarium!
If you have a full day available book a ferry out to the Dry Tortugas! It is a pretty bumpy 2 hour ride 70 miles out to get to the island but it is well worth it. Just be prepared with dramamine.
Once on the island you can explore Fort Jefferson search for conch shells and just enjoy the beauty of this tiny island out in the middle of the ocean. I would argue to say it one of the most beautiful places in the United States. Yes it is that amazing.
We would also love to go back to camp on the island for 2 or 3 nights. We have friends that did this and it sounded amazing!
You can check out our full post on the Dry Tortugas National Park to learn more about it.
If you are into water sports this is a must for any family that takes a trip to Key West! You get on a large catamaran and go out on the water for 6 hours. During this time you will snorkel, parasail (6 and older), jet ski and play in the ocean on big inflatable structures.
Plus you eat breakfast and lunch with all you can drink sodas (alcoholic beverages too after you are done jet skiing). We had such a great time and did not want the day to end!
You can read more about our day on the Fury Ultimate Adventure here.
For more water sports ideas check out our post: The 4 Best Water Activities in Key West With Kids
The Conch Tour Train takes you all around Key West. If your kids are like ours, they see a “train” and want to get on. It is a nice ride and it is cool to see other parts of Key West that you normally may not know about or wouldn’t see if you were just on your own driving through or walking around.
The guides also do a great job of throwing in some humor and giving you a good history lesson of the area. Ours did an uncanny imitation of Joe Pesci!
The first portion of the ride is 45 minutes long so if your kids have a hard time sitting still be sure to have a snack or something for them to do.
The Key West Shipwreck Museum has artifacts from a lot of the ships that crashed around Key West. There is some great history, a huge silver bar you can try to hold up, a scavenger hunt for the kids to do throughout the museum, and a movie in their basement – which is BELOW sea level! And our favorite part, climbing up the tower!
Besides coming in on one of the large cruise ships I think the tower gives you the best view of Key West. If you visit the Shipwreck Treasure Museum, don’t miss climbing the tower.
They also offer a guided introduction tour of the museum if you are interested. There is a lot to look at and read in the museum, but I don’t think it is for younger kids. They’re not quite interested in reading everything or looking closely at all the cool artifacts. For older kids, however, it is awesome!
If you are OK taking a drive up to Marathon (about 1 hour from Key West) then go visit The Turtle Hospital. You will be able to get up front and personal with these beautiful creatures and you and your kids will learn about how to protect sea turtles.
If you are in to gourmet donuts, plan on making a stop at Glazed Donuts on Eaton Street! It doesn’t have to be for breakfast, you could also stop for lunch :). They do close early and I know they run out of donuts so be sure to check it out before you go.
To be honest, the first time we went, I was a little nervous about if it would be appropriate for kids. But it totally was and the kids loved it! Yes, there is some vulgar humor but they make it so it pretty much goes over your kids head, and gives you a good laugh.
Our kids loved the fire and knife jugglers, drinking and eating a coconut fresh off of the tree from Key West, the sword swallower, and just having room to run around Mallory square. The street performers really do a great job and it is worth seeing a couple of performances.
I will add sometimes you see the sunset and sometimes you don’t. A lot of the time big cruise ships are there blocking your view, or else the crowd of people there will make it hard to see, or it is cloudy. So if you are looking for an amazing Florida Keys sunset this may not be the place. But if it is a good sunset and you have a good view it is amazing!
Check out the video of our day with kids in Key West!
This is a state park, so you have to pay to get in. There is a large parking lot, and the park offers a civil war fort, beach, concession stand, and chair rental. It is about a 1 mile walk to get to Mallory Square from the fort but it is a nice walk so you could park here for the day and walk into downtown Key West.
HOWEVER, please note that the park closes right after sunset and you will NOT make it back from Mallory Square (if you wait to watch the sunset) before the park closes. They park staff said when the gate closes, it doesn’t open until morning, so if your car is there you can come back in the morning to get it. . .
There is parking right outside of the entrance to the state park that is free. It is a large open lot or else towards the water there are parking spots that are free as well. So you could walk to the fort and also into downtown without worrying about your car being locked up.
You can explore the fort while you are here which is definitely worth it. You can climb up to the top to look out over the ocean and also explore inside the fort to get a feel for how people use to live there. Crazy!
You can spend the whole day in the park. Hanging out at the beach in the morning, having a picnic lunch or buying lunch at the concession stand, then checking out the fort in the afternoon, bring your grill and grill out in the parking lot and watch the sunset and see the sunset cruises sail across the setting sun. It is beautiful from the park!
This definitely made the list of our Top Beaches in Key West. Be sure to check it out!
It is FREE! It is a nice discovery center that teaches you about the Keys and the surrounding area.You can check out their 2500 galloon reef tank that is home to living corals and tropical fish.
It is closed on Sunday, but any other day it is free and is definitely worth stopping at. It is located right next to Fort Zachary Taylor.
Take it or leave it, if you want the picture and to say you have been there, plan on doing it. Even though there are arguments that it really isn’t the southern most point and that somewhere in Texas is. Splitting hairs if you ask me.
If you get there first thing in the morning you won’t have to wait in line (Which is what we did). Or else plan on standing in line for awhile to get your picture there.
This beach is located on the opposite side of the island from the craziness of Duvall Street and Mallory Square. So if you are looking for more of a low key feel, this is where you would want to hang out. It is off of A1A (beachfront avenue)! Which is also a pretty drive. Plus there is a bike trail/sidewalk that runs the length that you can walk/ride on.
Lagerheads is the perfect restaurant to stop at with kids in Key West. It is a little out of the way, but the atmosphere is perfect.
It’s a walk up, order at the window, type of joint and all of their tables are on the beach. It’s perfect for the kids to run around while you are waiting for your food.
Plus it isn’t overly priced. The kids can share one of the foot long hot dogs. Their hours are a little weird and they close by like 5pm, so be sure to call before you go to make sure they are open.
If it’s busy, forget about it. If the Patriots are playing, forget about it. Otherwise, it works great with a family. You can sit out at one of the tables that lines the street and you and your family can people watch as you wait for your food. Their happy hour specials are enough for a meal so try to get their during happy hour if you can.
If you are looking for a hotel in Key West we recommend staying at Casa Marina. It is a beautiful resort on the east side of Key West (away from the craziness of downtown). Plus it is right by Smathers beach, has an amazing pool, and a beach right on the hotel property.
If you are looking to do some walking around, Higgs Beach Pier is perfect for that. You can walk out on the pier and at the end of the pier is a large open area for your kids to run. It is a great FREE location to take your family for a little something different in Key West.
After walking to the pier you can walk over to the park on the beach and let the kids burn some energy there as well! When they get hot head over to the beach. The water level at the beach is super low all the way out. The beach is pretty rocky so bring water shoes, but it is the perfect depth for kids to play in.
I caution you that this is a wild ride so if you or your kids aren’t up for it then don’t do it. But if you have a thrill seeking bunch that wants to go 40MPH on a Jet Ski then go for it!
When we went I had one kid in front of me and one behind. And had never ridden a jet ski before . . . I have to say the staff was amazing and made sure that we didn’t lose the pack and gave me some tips and encouraging words so that I could keep up with the bunch – which we did.
Besides the ride itself it was also fun to see Key West from the water. Plus the tour takes you on a route where you are in the Gulf Mexico and then over in the Atlantic Ocean!
But again for everyone’s sake (you go out with a group of about 10 jet skis) if your kids is going to cry the whole time or if you just aren’t really the jet skiing type this may not be the right choice for you and your family.
More recommendations (and things we want to try next time we are there):
Stroll through this tropical paradise filled with 100’s of butterflies. It is a great way to get away from the hustle and bustle of Key West!
Tour President Harry S Truman’s winter home in Key West. It became the winter White House of America while Truman was in office. A great fit for any history buffs in your family.
Step back into 19th century Key West and tour the inside of a house built by Captain John Huling Geiger. Another great fit for any history buffs you have in your family!
Climb 88 steps to the top of the lighthouse and take in the amazing views of Key West and the surrounding ocean!
Where To Stay
If you are looking for an RV park we recommend any of the state parks in the Florida Keys or Sunshine Key RV Resort (about an hour out from Key West). All of these parks will be an hour or so outside of downtown. If you want something closer we have heard good things about Boyd’s Key West Campground.
We did get a chance to check out Casa Marina and it looks amazing. Or else check out Trip Advisor to find a hotel that will work for you and your family! Would love to check out some hotels ourselves the next time we go. If we do we will update the post.
You can easily spend a week with your family in Key West and we really fell in love with the city. With all of the beach visits, multiple water activities, restaurants, and attractions, you’ll never run out of options for things to do in Key West with kids!
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Disclosure: A HUGE thank you to Historic Tours of America for hosting us on The Conch Train, Aquarium, Shipwreck Museum and our Dry Tortugas trip. All opinions expressed are my own. #truth