Key West is the southernmost key in the Florida Keys. The Florida Keys is a string of over 800 islands stretching over 120 miles off the tip of the great state of Florida. The Florida Keys are known for scuba diving, fishing, boating, and some of the best snorkeling that you can find in the continental US. The bright coral reefs are sure to be a success with the entire family as there are so many fun things to do in Key West with kids.
You might find yourself in Key West off a cruise excursion as we did, or just perhaps enjoying a lovely weekend.
Key West is a popular tourist destination among people who live near and far. It’s a great weekend destination for people who live in the Southern Florida area. People who live elsewhere turn to The Keys because it is a relatively easily accessible tropical paradise. Key West is known to be a party scene since it’s loaded up with bars. There are many things that you can do on this island with little ones.
Our Favorite Things to do in Key West with Kids
Old Town Trolly Tours
If you want to explore Old Key West in one day I highly recommend Old Town Trolly Tours. This is a great way to get around Key West. Old Town Trolly tours offers a hop on hop off option. On one of our excursions during our Celebrity Cruise, we used the Old Town Trolley Tours for Key West. The drivers were entertaining and made the day great. It is a super easy way to get around Key West.
Key West Butterfly and Nature Conservatory
The first stop we hit up was the Key West Butterfly and Nature Conservatory. This Conservatory houses more than 60 different types of butterflies. It opened in January 2003. It is actually incredibly neat to have butterflies fly all around you, some might even land on your shoulder. The conservatory is glass enclosed and climate controlled so it is a nice break from the heat on those hot summer days.
One of the popular things to do in key west with kids is Smathers Beach is constantly rated number one by a wide variety of websites and critics. Key West is not known particularly for its beaches though but more so for snorkeling. Smathers Beach is lined with beautiful coconut trees and blue waters from the Atlantic. Smathers is the longest public beach in Key West and stretches about half of a mile long. Smathers is a sandy beach opposed to some beaches on the island that have rocks arounds.
To be a public beach with this amount of traffic the beach is clean. The kids will playing in the sand and water here. There are public volleyball courts available for use. Local tour companies offer parasailing, boat rides and other watersports nearby.
Dry Tortugas National Park
Take a day trip over to the Dry Tortugas National Park. Dry Tortugas National Park was established back on January 4th, 1935. It is located in the Gulf of Mexico and is located about 70 miles west of Key West. Dry Tortugas is in the middle of the ocean! The park has several protected coral reefs and consists of seven different islands. The park is $15.00 per person. People under the age of 16 do not have to pay entry except international guests. After entering the park, you’re in for crystal clear waters with beaches to lounge around on.
Dry Tortugas National Park hosts some of the best beaches in The United States. Did you know that the park also hosts a massive Civil War fortress, Fort Jefferson built in the 1800’s. Dry Tortugas National Park also is home to different types of birds and sea life.
Mallory Square has a beautiful Sunset Celebration that begins a couple hours before sundown. The Sunset Celebration happens every single night. Key West is known for its beautiful sunsets. Mallory Square is a waterfront square that has several restaurants and stores.
It’s worth a visit since there are many different types of stores located here rather than tourist tee shirt shops. Mallory Square is located on Wall street. Mallory Square is located near the cruise port so if you are visiting on a cruise or even not it is best to reserve your families spot for dinner/ lunch/ or whatever activity you want to do because it can get very crowded!
The Overseas Highway (US 1)
The Overseas Highway is what you’ve drove on to get to the island. The highway is a 113-mile-long road that begins in Florida City and ends in Key West and takes about four hours to drive. The Overseas Highway can be very dangerous to drive on so please be careful when taking the family on this street. One lane per direction and people behind you might get antsy.
The highway was actually the overseas railroad. Part of the highway was under construction when the railroad was still operational. There are over 40 bridges that consist of US 1. The most famous is the seven-mile bridge. The bridge connects Knights Key in the middle and then Little Duck Key in the Lower Keys. The total length of the bridge is 35,720 feet. The bridge opened on May 24, 1982 after about 4 years of construction. Many films have been made on the Seven Mile Bridge i.e., Fast and Furious, Burn Notice, and License to Kill.
While it might be a bit touristy, visiting the southernmost point of the US is quite fun. There you will find the Southernmost Point of the continental US bouy. The buoy is located on the corner of South and Whitehead streets. The buoy is unquestionably one of the most popular photo spots on the island so be prepared to wait in line to take a photo with it. This is actually not the Southernmost point on the island, that area is protected by the US Navy in the Truman Annex. The true southernmost point has no markers and civilians are not allowed to access it.
Mile Marker 0
Mile Marker 0 is where US 1 ends. It is an often-photographed road sign. It is only one block away from Duval Street. Mile Marker 0 is located on an off street.
Key West Aquarium
The Key West Aquarium is located is located inside of Mallory Square. The aquarium was built In 1934. It is the only public aquarium in Key West. You can book public or private tours of the aquarium. The aquarium features sharks, rays, and different types of fish.
Key West Shipwreck Treasure Museum
The Key West Shipwreck Museum formerly known as The Shipwreck Historium features over 400 years of shipwreck artifacts. The museum is also located near Mallory Square. The museum is a re-creation of a warehouse built by Asa Tift, a salvager who built the Earnest Hemingway House.
Duval Street is the “high” street of this island. Duval Street is just over a mile long but has BIG personality that the entire family will love! It is a downtown commercial street and the most popular destination on the small island. Duval Street is extremely safe for families and has so much to do!
Taking a stroll is just interesting with the street vendors, live art galleries, street psychics and tarot readers, unique touristy shops and restaurants around. One great thing about Duval Street is that most stores seem to be independently owned so that you can support local small businesses!
Truman Little White House
The 33rd president of the United states was Harry Truman. Harry Truman liked to spend his winters in Key West. The Truman Little White House is where he would stay for his winter White House. The Little White House is one of the most popular places to visit on the island. The Truman Little White House offers tours, and you can even book for a special event!
Key West Lighthouse
The Key West Lighthouse is 73’ high and opened back in 1848. The need for a lighthouse on the island was found shortly after the Navy based was established. For a small entrance fee, you can visit the lighthouse and the keeper’s quarters. What is unique about this lighthouse is that the first keeper was a woman, which was very unusual back during that time.
Eco Discovery Center
One of the coolest things to do in Key West with kids is The Florida Keys Eco Discovery Center is located on the island of Key West. The center has over 6,000 square feet of different interactive activities that the whole family will love. Admission and parking are free!
Last but not least what is a trip to a tropical paradise without water sports? Jet skiing, boating, parasailing and fishing are all in excess on this island. There are many tour companies to book through. You will just need to research and find the one that fits your needs best!
Eat some Key Lime Pie!
An absolute must do on the things to do in Key West with kids list is to stop by one of the local pie shops for some Key Lime Pie, while you’re in Key West. You’ll find Key Lime Pie all over this fun little town. There are so many Key Lime shops it is hard to choose from, so check out the Forbes article on the top 5 places in town to grab a slice.
There is something for the entire family on this amazing little island. While visiting the island you don’t want to miss taking a stroll around to check out some of the houses. The houses in Key West are conch style. Key West is a great escape from mainland life without even having to leave the country!
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