If you’re heading way down South Florida, we’ve got the perfect list of things to do in Key West with your kids.
You might be looking to ensure that Key West has enough to offer in terms of recreation, education, and fun that can keep kids engaged and happy. After multiple extended visits with our kids at different ages, I can assure you they will love it!
Here are our favorite activities – exploring beautiful beaches to partaking in fun water activities like snorkeling, boating, jet skiing. Both for fun.. and as an educational opportunity in a city with historical and ecological significance.
Head out on the clear Gulf of Mexico waters to see Key West’s magnificent dolphins. This is a family-friendly outing that allows guests to observe dolphins and other Key West wildlife mingling in their natural habitat. Be sure to take advantage of the opportunity to dive in and snorkel Key West’s warm, gentle waters. The Seabreeze Dolphin & Snorkel Tour will take your vacation up one gigantic notch.
Take a guided bicycle tour from Key Lime Bike Tours and explore this amazing city. The leisurely ride focuses on the history, architecture, and culture of the southernmost city in the US. Get a little bit of exercise while hitting all the local hotspots. Plus, this tour includes a complimentary slice of Key Lime Pie at the end!
Southernmost point in the US
When people think of what to do in Key West this always comes to mind. Is it the ultimate adventure? No. But do you have to do it? Yes!
We planned to stop by on the way back to the hotel one day, but the line was so long! Like...around-the-block long. Why? Cruise ships! The best thing to do is go early in the morning, so that's what we did - the second time. We were in the area about 8:15ish -- you're close to White Street, so stop there and grab a Cuban coffee to go -- then drive over to the point.
Before 8:30am there is plenty of street parking available, and no lines. We had one person in front of us, and then almost immediately 2 people behind us. You don't want to be completely by yourself anyway - someone has to take the photo! Just swap cameras with the other people in line.
Honest Eco Dolphin Watch & Snorkel
Honest Eco offers several tours (with several boats) but we loved the dolphin watch and snorkel tour on the SQUID. This is the first electric-powered charter boat in Key West, which makes it special... but we just really loved the tour.
We headed out looking for dolphin, and watched them play near the boat. They came right up to examine the SQUID and see what it was all about.
After that, we jetted out to a place filled with sponges. We snorkeled here for about an hour, seeing sting rays, lobsters, crabs, moon jellies, and tons of colorful fish. We were so glad to have the Honest Eco guide in the water with us, pointing out creatures we would never have seen on our own.
This is a spectacular educational experience - but don't tell the kids. To them, it was just a world of fun!
Conch Train Tour
The Conch Train is an absolute must-do! It's been around since 1958, and it's still one of Florida's most popular attractions.
The open-air Conch Train takes you around Key West, with hop on/off options allowing you to explore and learn simultaneously. We recommend making this your first adventure so that you get a lay of the land, and an understanding of the culture and history of the island.
Skip the Line: Key West Conch Train Tour
Fury Water Adventures
There are just so many options with Fury Water Adventures, from snorkeling to sunset rides. Our favorite experience was opting for BOTH on the Rum & Reggae Snorkel Sunset Combo.
We rode out to the reef, enjoying antics from the crew the entire way! Such a fun group. Then we snorkeled the reef -- even seeing a lemon shark! Great music was blaring and everyone was dancing and cutting up.
After rounding up all the snorkelers, the crew poured copious amounts of Rum Punch, plus beers (and sodas for the kiddos). About a half-hour from hitting shore, the boat slowed and we experienced a glorious sunset on the water!
Whether you are a couple with no kids (like most everyone on this excursion) or you have kiddos yourself (we were one of about 4 other families) this is SUCH a fun experience! Heck, this is the ONLY coral reef in the U.S., and the 3rd largest in the world. You must, must, must head out to experience it.
Need to knows: You can bring your own gear, but unless you're a professional, their gear will be better. Trust me. Bring towels and a sweatshirt, the wind gets cold when the sun goes down and you are wet. Bring snacks for the kiddos. You're onboard for 3 hours total...and snorkeling is hard work. Bring a cash tip for the crew (about $10 per person is customary). You will want to tip them - they are amazing and make this one of the best businesses to work with in Key West.
But Your Tickets Now: Rum and Reggae Afternoon Snorkel and Sunset
The Hemingway House was the residency of Ernest Hemingway when he lived in Key West, and is now a museum. Because of the stories about 6-toed cats...and The Old Man and The Sea being one of my favorite books of all time, well we HAD to visit!
With the kids, we opted to forego the guided tour and roam around ourselves. I wish the boys had the patience for the full tour, but it was a late afternoon and I was already pressing my luck. We still learned quite a bit by reading placards and eavesdropping on other tours.
The stories about the 6-toed cats are true! Descendants of Hemingway's original 6-toed feline roam the property (there is even a cemetery for those who have passed). Some are shy, but others will take all the affection you can offer.
In our opinion, the best money-saving option for exploring the city is the Key West Vacation Pass. It’s packed with free admissions and buy one/get one offerings for Hemingway House, snorkeling, kayaking, charters and more. It will quickly become your “spend less but do more” secret weapon!
Get Up & Go Kayak Tour
Ok - I know this is in Sugarloaf Key and not Key West. But it's less than a 1/2 hour away and it is so much fun! Especially for the kids.
Get Up & Go Kayaking takes you on a tour of Sugarloaf Sound in a clear kayak! You'll paddle the edge of the mangroves hunting marine life, see sponges and fish... we even saw a bullnose shark!
Our favorite part was paddling the tunnel of mangroves. It was literally a tunnel... winding through the sound. So peaceful and so fun!
KEY LIME PIE
Having Key Lime Pie is a must when you are in Key West, and there are a lot of options available. I wish I could tell you that I had time to nosh my way through the city, ranking each option as I progressed...but in all honesty, we only visited Kermit's - as recommended by Facebook readers and friends. I'm not sure how it could have been any tastier, though!
There are a few locations -- including one in DeLand, which is where our 18-day Florida road trip began -- but we opted for the original in Key West. It did not disappoint! We had a slice of key lime pie, a key limonade, key lime taffy, and a frozen key lime drink! I think it had some of the best pie Key West has to offer.
Featured Tour: 3-Hour Guided Bicycle Tour with Key Lime Pie
Half Shell Raw Bar
This is a fantastic restaurant right on the water... we love that it vibes a little like an old fish market, with rustic tables and a casual, friendly atmosphere. Dan and I started with oysters on the halfshell and then settled on the seafood daily special (delicious Mahi) and it was delicious.
Barefoot Billy's Jet Ski Experience
Hold on tight! Barefoot Billy's is THE option for taking a tour of Key West - from the water. We rode (1 kid/1 adult per ski) areound the entire island of Key West, from the Gulf to the Ocean and back to land again. It's such a fun watersport to enjoy with the kids!
Dan is pretty experienced, so he and Elliot lead the group with the guide, but Cooper and I were slow pokes in the back with a second guide in the rear. No worry whatever your level, you're going to have a great time!
Key West Butterfly and Nature Conservatory
When it's raining outside (and even when it's not) you'll find nothing but sunshine in the Butterfly Conservatory. Stroll through the conservatory where hundreds of butterflies and birds fly among tropical plants, waterfalls, trees, and you!
Don't miss the short film before you go in! My boys adored the bright gift shop with so many interesting items for nature-lovers.
Key West Lighthouse
Built in 1848, did you know the first lightkeeper here was a woman? Pretty unusual! It's decommissioned today, but we enjoyed walking the 88 steps to the top, with a great lookout over Key West. The boys enjoyed the museum below, located in the Keeper's Quarters - especially seeing the HUGE Fresnal lense and learning about maritime knots tying.
Shipwreck Treasure Museum
Arrrrgh! No trip to Key West with kids is complete without a visit to the Shipwreck Museum, where kids can learn all about the Key West Pirates!
Take a guided tour, or just walk at your own pace through the museum to check out all of the artifacts. The museum has actors, films, and actual artifacts from a vessel that sank in the reef in 1856! You can also go into the basement where you are actually below Sea Level. Spooky!
Our favorite part about the museum was climbing to the top of the tower so we could look out over all of Key West.
Skip the Lines: Key West Shipwreck Treasure Museum Tickets
Lagerheads Beach Bar
I won't lie - Lagerheads saved the day for us. If you travel with kids, you know that you can only cram so much into one day. Just as the boys reached a breaking point -- you know, they were weary and hangry -- we came across Lagerheads.
It's tucked in a backstreet, so there weren't many people there. Grab a lawn chair on the sandy beach and relax while the kids frolic in the water.
We ordered some snacks and a few drinks, and relaxed here for a good hour or so...with no hurry and no schedule...giving everyone time to re-energize. We didn't do this, but you can also rent hydro-bikes here -- which would be a super fun way to end a day.
Good food, a great atmosphere, live music, and fun activities for the whole family? No wonder it's Key West's favorite beach bar.
Mallory Square Sunset Celebration
Come down to Duvall Street and Mallory Square about an hour before the sunset (give or take ) to catch the street performers, watch the sunset, and celebrate with the locals and tourists at Sunset Celebration.
There are performers swallowing swords, walking on tight ropes, and doing all sorts of tricks - it's tradition. Once the sun starts going down, find a place along the wall to sit and take it in!
While you are there, be sure to walk over to the Memorial Sculpture Garden. It features 36 cast bronze busts of the men and women who have had the greatest impact on Key West.
Robert the Doll
My husband was NOT going to leave Key West without a visit to Robert the Doll. Have you heard the story of this allegedly haunted doll? Supposedly only tragedies follow those who disrespect it. It was great to see the apology letters from so many people who tempted fate.
It sits in the Fort East Martello Museum, which is in the walls of the old fort. It's absolutely worth a visit for more than just the doll!
Dry Tortugas National Park
When putting your list together of things to do in Key West, this should be at the top. It is expensive and will take all day, but my friends at Crazy Family Adventure say it's totally worth it.
The Dry Tortugas are located 70 miles off of Key West and is a true paradise. You have to take a 2-hour boat ride to get there - and it is choppy - so bring your Dramamine. But once you pull up to the island -- it's all worth it!
There is an old fort on the island that you can explore (Fort Jefferson), beautiful beaches, snorkeling, and a ton of conch shells to find (you can't keep them - but they are still fun to find).
You can either go for a day trip or you can plan on camping there for a few nights. Plan to catch the YANKEE FREEDOM III FERRY from Key West Historic Seaport. Head out on the open deck, or take a seat in the air-conditioned cabin.
Ocean's Edge Resort & Marina
If you're looking to stay in Key West, but want to avoide the hustle and bustle of downtown, then I highly recommend Ocean's Edge. It's located on Stock Island, right on the water. Besides super spacious rooms and a great restaurant, one of the things we really loved was the free shuttle that constantly ran between the hotel and downtown.
For those who don't know, it is really hard (and expensive) to park in downtown Key West, and this makes going back and forth a breeze. (Especially if you want to have a few cocktails.) The bus is new, with cushy seats and plenty of air conditioning!
Our room came with a seating area (above photo) and a comfy sofa bed for the teen. In the adjoining room were two queen beds for the tween and me & Dan. It also included a fantastic balcony (below photo) overlooking the pools and the Marina.
We grabbed breakfast at Ocean's Edge Cafe (great lattes!) and dinner at the onsite Yellowfin Bar & Kitchen is a must. It has a great island vibe and the Hogfish is heavenly! Don't skip an appy either because the tuna nachos are delish!
MORE INFORMATION FOR YOUR TRIP TO KEY WEST
- YOUR FLORIDA VACATION
- WHERE TO EAT: Where to Eat in Key West [including local favorites]
- HOTEL LAUREATE: Review of Hotel Laureate Key West: Family Suites in the Florida Keys
- KEY WEST GIRLS' TRIP: A Grown-Up Key West Girls Trip Full Of Sun, Fun, And Food
- THE KEYS WITH KIDS: 10 Fun Things to Do in the Florida Keys with Kids
- SUNSET CRUISES: The Best Florida Keys Sunset Cruises
- MORE THINGS TO DO: 4 Can’t Be Missed Fascinating Places To Visit In Key West
- SEA ANIMALS: 3 Places To See Enchanting Sea Animals In Key West, Florida
- FLORIDA BEACHES: 25+ Best Family Vacation Destinations
- BEST OF FLORIDA: 20+ Things To Do In Florida On The Ultimate Sunshine State Road Trip
- NPS ROAD TRIP IDEAS: 6 Epic National Park Road Trip Ideas (Maps Included)
- FLORIDA ROAD TRIP: 31 Amazing Places You Won't Want To Miss
OUR ACCOMMODATION PARTNERS
While hotels are abundant here, we cannot recommend Havana Cabana more highly! They are spectacular! Great rooms, great location - and Key West's largest pool!!
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