A Family Guide to Top Kid-Friendly Activities in Key West

Welcome to Key West, Florida

The Southernmost City in the Continental U.S.! Known for its coral reefs, beaches, and pastel-hued, conch-style houses, Key West is a vibrant, exciting destination the whole family will enjoy. This travel guide will highlight the top attractions, activities, and things to see in Key West that are perfect for kids and families.

Getting Around

Key West is a relatively small island, approximately 4 miles long by 1 mile wide, so getting around is fairly easy. The historic Old Town area is very walkable, but you may want to rent bikes, scooters, or small electric cars to access some attractions further from Duval Street. The free Duval Loop shuttle can also help you get around town. For reaching some of the beaches like Smathers Beach and Fort Zachary Taylor State Park, having a car is more convenient. There’s also a good bus system called the Key West Transit that provides may services for Key West visitors.

Top Family-Friendly Attractions

Hemingway Home & Museum

The former residence of famed writer Ernest Hemingway is now a museum filled with history and around 50 polydactyl (six-toed) cats that roam the tropical grounds. Kids will love checking out Papa Hemingway’s studio, looking for cats, and exploring areas like the pool and tennis court.

Key West Butterfly & Nature Conservatory

This air-conditioned conservatory located on Duval Street allows you to walk through a glass enclosure filled with hundreds of colorful butterflies from around the world. It also contains lovely exotic plants and flowers, waterfalls, and birds. It’s an up close, air-conditioned nature experience perfect for young ones.

Key West Aquarium

One of the oldest aquariums in Florida, this family-owned attraction lets kids peer at sharks, sea turtles, rays, eels and other marine creatures. Touch tanks allow for hands-on learning. The daily shark and turtle feedings are a popular highlight.

Harry S. Truman Little White House

Take a tour through this historic house to uncover its history as the former winter vacation home of President Harry S Truman. Kids will love seeing the Key deer and parrots on the grounds and hearing stories about Truman’s presidency. The interactive Bomb Shelter Museum highlights Cold War history.

Key West Shipwreck Treasures Museum

This family-friendly museum is a nice introduction for kids into Key West’s maritime history. Featuring the real shipwreck salvage business started by the late Mel Fisher, see treasures discovered from famous shipwrecks as well as artifacts spanning centuries of nautical history.

Fun Watersports & Boat Tours

Going out on the beautiful blue waters surrounding Key West is a must. Many family-oriented watersports and sightseeing tours cater to kids, providing a memorable ocean adventure. Top picks include:

  • Glass Bottom Boat Tours – View shipwrecks, fish and more through glass panels in the boat.
  • Pirate-Themed Cruises – Dress up like pirates and go on swashbuckling adventures.
  • Dolphin Watch Eco-Tours – Spot dolphins, sea turtles and other marine life. Hands-on education for kids focused on ocean conservation.
  • Parasailing – Soar 450 feet in the air for incredible views with parasail rides suited for kids over 5.
  • Paddleboarding & Kayaking – Paddle through the emerald waters for a fun and active way to take in island scenery. Calmer kayak tours are great for younger kids.

Beaches

Key West is surrounded by gorgeous blue waters and some nice beach options for families. Top choices include:

Smathers Beach- The longest beach in Key West, stretching over a mile along the southern edge of the island. Calmer waves and ample parking make it one of the most family-friendly. Rent umbrellas, chairs, paddleboards, kayaks, or try a bike ride along the palm tree dotted shoreline.

Fort Zachary Taylor State Park Historic fort with great swimming beach, picnicking spots with BBQ grills, and nature trails through Civil War era ruins. The shallow, clear water by the shore is calmer for young kids.

Dry Tortugas National Park- Located 70 miles off Key West, the pristine Dry Tortugas National Park covers 64,000 acres and encompasses Fort Jefferson as well as spectacular coral reefs and marine life perfect for snorkeling, diving or glass-bottom boat tours. Ferry service and sea planes provide transportation to this special destination that makes for an unforgettable family day trip.

Family Dining

Key West dining excels at fresh local seafood with sunset views over the ocean. Many eateries also cater well to kids. Top family picks include:

Blue Heaven Restaurant –  Sunny Caribbean vibes with outdoor patio seating right in Bahama Village. Huge, shareable breakfast plates, tower of pancakes, and giant omelets make for perfect fuel-ups.

Conch Republic Seafood Company – Panoramic views overlooking the Harbor with freshly caught seafood, from fried shrimp to lobster reubens, served in a lively, family setting.

The Stoned Crab –  Fun, outdoor restaurant right on the waterfront specializing in buckets of steamed seafood with plastic bibs and handy tools making for tasty, hands-on feasting. Gigantic seafood platters feature items like crab legs, shrimp, lobster and more.

Kermit’s Key West Key Lime Shoppe  – No visit to the Keys is complete without trying Key lime pie. This popular bakery overlooking the Harbor serves up incredible Key lime pie, truffles, tarts and homemade ice cream in tropical flavors. You may just leave with an entire pie!

Nightlife Family Fun

While Key West is renowned for its vibrant nightlife scenes suited to adults, there is still plenty for families to enjoy at night. Top picks include:

Sunset Celebration at Mallory Square Dock-  Nightly festival with street performers, musicians, artists, food carts and more against the backdrop of the gorgeous Key West sunset. Great family atmosphere and entertainment.

Movies At Tropic Cinema – A vintage and well preserved art deco “Old Time” movie theater. Playing current movies as well as independent films and cult classics. Bring the kids to see one of your childhood favorites on the big screen.

Key West Ghost & Gravestone Tour Trolley Ride – Take a ride through the darker side of Key West visiting haunts like the city’s notoriously haunted cemetery. Fun ghost stories spice up the island history.

Key West is truly a paradise getaway with plenty to see and do for families and kids of all ages. From watersports adventures to historic attractions, wildlife encounters to sunset celebrations, Key West offers memorable tropical fun certain to entertain and delight the whole family!

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