Many people think of Key West as an adults only destination. When one considers all of the bars that dot the island it is no wonder why they think that. But many people do not realize that there are a plethora of other things to to in Key West, many of which are family friendly! (I would just avoid bringing children to the island during Fantasy Fest in late October as this event is a bit risqué.)
- One of the first things that I suggest people do when they visit our island Paradise is the take a tour on he Old Town Trolley or the Conch Tour Train. These narrated tours highlight points of interest around the island and really help visitors to come up with a game plan of what they would like to see on the island. And the docents love children, even giving them special hats to wear!
Children love adventure. So take advantage of the island life and take them on an excursion on the water. There are many options!
- Dolphin Watching charters are offered privately and publicly. You can view these beautiful creatures from the boat, watching them play in the waves. Then you can snorkel or swim in the calm backcountry waters.
- Fishing is a great way to keep the kids entertained. Dream Catcher Charters offers an amazing Family Fun Fishing charter. You can incorporate sightseeing, beach combing, dolphin watching, and snorkeling if you wish as they are very open to customizing a trip just for you!
- Kayaking and Paddleboarding are a bit challenging, but it is good to be challenged. Take a tour with Lazy Dog and experience the beauty of the Key West backcountry.
- Watersports activities like parasailing, wave runner tours, snorkeling, and banana boat rides are always a blast with the kids. And hopefully they will be tuckered out by the end of the day on one of these excursions!
All kids love animals, right? At least I sure did growing up! Well, there are many places on the island that will surely give your children their animal fix.
- Key West Aquarium located at Mallory Square does an amazing job of showcasing local species. You can even pet a stingray!
- Butterfly Museum on Duval Street is home to many amazing butterfly species as well as birds. Come here to relax while your little one’s enjoy skipping around trying to catch a butterfly by it’s wing.
- Sheriff’s Animal Farm is only open the 2nd and 4th Sundays of the month from 1 – 3 pm. But it houses some of the cutest rescued animals that the children will enjoy petting and feeding.
- Key West Nature Preserve has two entrances on Atlantic Blvd. Wooden walkways and trails take visitors through mangrove forests to a quiet strip of beach. Children can have fun seeing butterflies, lizards and birds along the way.
- Key West Marine Park in the Atlantic Ocean from White Street to Duval Street is a shallow area of waters along the southwest end of Key West cordoned off with buoys to create safe areas for swimming and snorkeling. Your children may view several species of coral, tropical fish and seabirds.
Other fun areas for children to roam are also plentiful.
- Astro City on Atlantic Blvd. is a well-equipped playground just across the street from Higgs Beach. It is a popular stop for families on their way to and from the beach.
- Bayview Park at Truman Ave. and Eisenhower St. offers a fully-equipped playground, basketball court, bathrooms and tennis courts. Lots of family friendly community events also take place here.
- Mallory Square on Front Street is a waterfront site and home to the island’s nightly Sunset Celebration. Your children will really enjoy watching the licensed street performers, sampling food from the vendors, and shopping around for cool finds peddled by local artisans.
- White Street Pier is a pedestrian pier that extends out over the Atlantic Ocean. This is a great place to take a relaxing walk while enjoying the beautiful surroundings. You may even spot some cool fish at the end of the pier!
- Historic Seaport District on Caroline Street, aka “the Bight” is a great place to take a walk with your children. You may even find a sea turtle being rehabilitated at the free Turtle Kraals Museum.
- Truman Waterfront Park is a great way to spend some time with the kids. Whether you are going there to use the Splash Park, or to visit one of the other attractions such as the USS Ingham, the Eco-Discovery Center, or Fort Zachary Taylor State Park, there are so many things to do here!
- Key West is not known for its beaches, but there are several to choose from that the kids would surely enjoy. I mean, who does not enjoy a beach day? Fort Zachary Taylor State Park is my favorite Key West beach to visit as it not only has a nice sand beach and good snorkeling off of the shore, but walking trails, a picnic area, and more to explore!
And here are some other kid friendly ideas…
- Art Galleries are not just for the cultured art history major. Kids can enjoy looking at some of the more creative works found at many of the eclectic little galleries.
- And speaking of culture, there are plenty of museums in Key West as well. My favorite is the Hemingway House which I was enthralled with as a child and still am today. But places like the Wreckers Museum and the Mel Fisher Maritime Museum can really capture the little ones’ imaginations while teaching them of the local history.
- Kids and adults alike always enjoy a visit to the Florida Keys Eco-discovery Center. With interactive exhibits utilizing touch screen technology, stunning photos, and even a theater, what is not to like? It’s a fun way to learn about reef and mangrove habitats and it is free!
- Kids always love it when you buy them presents. So, take them shopping! There are so many stores on the island that you are sure to find them the perfect present for them to take home as a souvenir of their fabulous Key West vacation!
- Visiting a cemetery may be a little creepy, but some kids adore spooky. The Key West Cemetery is open daily for self guided tours. And guided tours can be put together upon request.
- Take a trip to the Dry Tortugas! This National Park can only be gotten to by boat or seaplane. Be sure to reserve in advance as these trips sell out up to a month in advance.
As you can see, Key West may not be thought of as a town for kids, but it sure does have a lot for them to explore and to enjoy!
No matter what you decide to do, make sure that you make advanced reservations! If you don’t you will be sitting alone in your hotel room wishing you had planned ahead.