15 Fun Things to Do In Key West With Kids

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Planning a family vacation to Key West in 2024 and wondering what activities you can do with your kids? 

Key West is such a great place for a family vacation, with plenty of fun and educational activities for kids of all ages. This beautiful island city is filled with sandy beaches, parks, and attractions that your kids will love.

Below, we’ll look at some of the best things to do with kids in Key West.

Why is Key West a Great Place for a Family Vacation?

Key West is located on the southernmost tip of the United States, surrounded by the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean. 

You can drive to the town via the Overseas Highway, which connects the city to the mainland of Florida. You can also take a ferry or a cruise to the island. The nearest cities are Miami (about 160 miles away) and Havana, about 9 miles south of the island. 

Key West International Airport (EYW), located just a few miles away from the city center, offers direct flights to and from various cities across the United States, making it a convenient destination for families.

Key West is warm and sunny year-round so it’s great for outdoor activities. Spend time at popular beaches like Smathers Beach and Fort Zachary Taylor State Park or visit historic sites such as the Key West Shipwreck Museum and the Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum

When is the Best Time to Visit Key West?

The best time to visit Key West is from December to April. This time of year there are mild temperatures and the humidity is lower, so it’s more pleasant to be outside.

But this is also the peak tourist season, with lots of families flocking here to escape the cold.

So you can expect higher accommodation prices and more crowds. 

This is especially true during holidays and special events like the Key West Food and Wine Festival, the Key West Songwriters Festival, and the Key West Film Festival.

Visit the Key West Shipwreck Museum

Location: 1 Whitehead Street, Key West, FL 33040

The Key West Shipwreck Museum is a fun and interactive attraction where you can learn about the island’s rich maritime history. 

Kids will love the museum’s exhibits, which include artifacts from real shipwrecks and interactive displays so you can experience what it was like to be a shipwreck salvager. 

The museum is open every day of the year. Inside, you can see actors, watch movies, and look at old things from shipwrecks, including the Isaac Allerton, which sank in 1856. Climb a 65-foot observation tower to see far away, and keep an eye out for new shipwrecks! 

Listen to Asa Tift tell stories about Key West’s first settlers. It is a fun and interesting place for the whole family.

Get Admission Tickets –>

Take a Dolphin-Watching Tour

Key West is home to many friendly dolphins, and going on a dolphin watching tour is a great way to see them up close. You’ll ride on a boat and watch the dolphins swim and play in their natural habitat. Sometimes, if you’re lucky, the dolphins might even swim near your boat!

Some tours even offer the chance to swim with dolphins—an unforgettable experience for kids of all ages. You can also snorkel in shallow water, where you can see sting rays, young fish, and other sea creatures. 

The best part is that you’ll get to witness the famous Key West sunset. It is a fun and adventurous experience for the whole family.

Key West Dolphin Watching Tour –>

Tour the Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum

Image by Michelle Raponi from Pixabay

Location: 907 Whitehead St, Key West, Key West, Florida, 33040

If your kids love Hemingway’s stories, you must visit The Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum. It is the old house where the famous writer lived with his wife, Pauline. 

Today, it is a museum where you can see some of Hemingway’s furniture and artwork. You’ll also see a collection of chandeliers that belonged to his wife. Kids will love the beautiful gardens and seeing the six-toed cats that roam the property. 

The gardens are filled with flowers like Hibiscus, Angel’s Trumpet, and Gardenias. One cool thing about this place is that about 60 cats live in the museum’s yard. Look for ones with six toes, like Hemingway’s cat, Snow White.

The museum is open daily from 9 am to 5 pm. You can buy admission tickets from their main gate. Your ticket price includes a 20-30 minute guided tour. 

Hemingway Food and Walking Tour –>

Attend the Sunset Celebration at Mallory Square

Location: 400 Wall Street, Key West, Florida

Have you heard of the Sunset Celebration in downtown Key West? It is a must-see event if you’re in Key West! 

The Key West Sunset Celebration at Mallory Square has been attracting visitors since the 1960s. It is a really fun thing to do with your family in Key West before bedtime. The celebration begins two hours before sunset. Your kids will love the fire show by Andromeda Fyre.

Watch the sunset over the Gulf of Mexico. See magicians, jugglers, musicians, psychics, artists, clowns, and food vendors who all come together to create an amazing experience. 

Walk around the pier and enjoy beautiful views of the harbor. Buy a memento from people selling a variety of jewelry, crafts, and more.

Discover the Key West Aquarium

Location: 1 Whitehead Street, Key West, FL 33040

When you’re exploring Mallory Square, make sure to visit the Key West Aquarium for some aquatic fun! This aquarium is one of the oldest attractions in the state. It is a great place to see sea turtles and other sea animals like sharks up close.

Kids can check out the touch tanks, where they can touch and feed some of the marine animals. Every day, the staff at the Key West Aquarium hosts educational shows where you can help them feed the nurse sharks that live there. 

Before you go, check their schedule to make sure you don’t miss any special tours or feeding times. Key West Aquarium is open daily from 9 am to 6 pm. 

You can book your tickets here!

Get Admission Tickets –>

Take Your Kids to the Butterfly and Nature Conservatory

Location: 1316 Duval Street, Key West, Florida

If your kids love animals and nature, they’ll have a great time at the Key West Butterfly and Nature Conservatory. Located near the Southernmost Point market on Duval Street, the conservatory is a special place where 50 to 60 different types of butterflies live in a big glass house. As you walk through the garden, it feels like you’re in a magical storybook with colorful creatures flying all around.

Before exploring, you can watch a short 15-minute demonstration that explains how butterflies grow and some interesting facts. You’ll also learn about the Monarch butterfly’s amazing journey and see caterpillars eating.

Besides butterflies, there are more than 20 colorful bird species to see, like two pink flamingos named Rhett and Scarlett. If you’re a big fan of flamingos, you can even book a special visit with them every day at 4:30 pm. Make sure to book in advance because only six guests are allowed each time.

After visiting, head to The Learning Center to learn more about the animals and plants in the conservatory. It is a beautiful adventure for children and adults alike.

Visit Fort Zachary Taylor State Park

Location: 601 Howard England Way, Key West, Florida

If you’re looking for a place in Key West that is both historical and fun, you should go to Fort Zachary Taylor State Park. This park is 54 acres, and there is a lot to do.

Inside, you can see the old buildings and see how soldiers used to live. You can join a guided tour of Fort Zachary Taylor to see old cannons from the Civil War and learn about the fort’s history. Tours are offered daily at 11 am.

If your kids get bored of history stuff, don’t worry! The park also has the best beach in Key West, where you can swim, snorkel, or fish. The water is protected with a barrier, so it’s very beginner friendly.

This is actually the best place I’ve been snorkeling in the keys, other than the Dry Tortugas. There isn’t as much reef here as other places in the Keys, but the rock jetties attract a lot of big fish.

If you are visiting with kids, make sure they wear water shoes because the coral rocks on the shore can hurt their feet. 

There are picnic tables and grills under shaded trees, as well as hammocks. The park is open daily from 8 am to sunset.

Take a Tour of Key West with Old Town Trolley

Old Town Trolley Tours is a super fun way for kids and parents to explore Key West’s historic district! If you’re visiting with your family and want to see all the places without driving, this trolley is perfect. 

Hop on and off at any of the 13 stops whenever you want to check out the area at your own pace. The trolley comes every 15-20 minutes for these guided tours, and the whole ride takes about 90 minutes. You can see over 100 points of interest, including places to eat, shop, and have fun. 

To ride the trolley, you just need to buy a voucher for each person. Choose from a one- or two-day pass. 

Park at Mallory Square or the Key West Welcome Center to get your vouchers and start your tour. Seats on the trolley are first-come, first-served, and little kids can sit on your lap.

Old Town Key West Trolley Tour Tickets –>

Ride the Conch Tour Train

Another way to explore the town of Key West is on the iconic Conch Tour Train! The Conch Tour Train has been running since 1958 and is a really popular thing to do in Key West. Best of all – kids under 12 ride for free.

This is a 90-minute narrated tour where you’ll ride in a bright yellow tram that looks like a train and goes all around the island. 

It stops at many famous places in Key West, like the Key West Aquarium, the Shipwreck Treasure Museum, the Harry S. Truman Little White House, and the historic Mallory Square. 

You can even go on a ghost and gravestones night tour if you book their Conch Train and Ghosts & Gravestones package

Book the Conch Tour Train Ride –>

Visit the Key West Lighthouse and Keeper’s Quarter Museum

If your kids love history, you should definitely visit the Key West Lighthouse and Keeper’s Quarters Museum. It was one of the oldest lighthouses in the US but stopped working in the 1960s. Nowadays, the lighthouse isn’t used anymore. Instead, it is a museum where you can learn about its history. 

Inside, you’ll hear stories about the people who took care of the lighthouse, known as Keepers. Surprisingly, it was home to the first female lighthouse keeper in the country. She took over the job after her husband died and stayed there until she was 86 years old. 

You can see some of their stuff and pictures and even read their own words. They also sell cool stuff made by local artists in the gift shop. 

The lighthouse is 73 feet tall, and you can climb to the top for an awesome view. Kids will have a blast climbing up there, although it might not be the best idea for toddlers.

Go Kayaking in the Mangroves

Kayaking through the mangroves is one of the best things to do with kids in Key West. Take a kayak and explore mangrove creeks and shallow water on a Key West tour. 

You’ll get a close look at this special coastal area. This eco-tour is led by a guide who knows a lot about nature. 

You might see dolphins, rays, turtles, iguanas, birds, and other animals. Plus, you’ll learn about the seagrass beds and mangrove forests. Your kids will love seeing all the different animals while you’re on your adventure!

Get Pricing and Availability –>

Take a Snorkeling Trip

Snorkeling in Key West is amazing because the island is close to the Florida Reef. This reef is 350 miles long and full of living coral. It goes from Palm Beach to the Dry Tortugas Islands. There are so many plants and animals living in the coral. In fact, there are over 1,400 different kinds! 

If you want to snorkel from the beach, Higgs Beach is a great spot. It is safe for kids because there are no jet skis or motorboats allowed in the swimming area. The water here is protected as a marine park. You can see colorful fish like parrotfish, angelfish, and butterflyfish near the pier.

Other popular spots for snorkeling are Dry Tortugas National Park, Key West National Wildlife Refuge, and Sand Key Lighthouse Reef. 

Check Out the Best Snorkeling Tours in Key West

Spot Sea Turtles on a Glass Bottom Boat Tour

If your kids are too young to go snorkeling, a glass-bottom boat tour is a great alternative. These tours offer a unique perspective on the underwater world without the need for snorkeling gear. 

You’ll see colorful tropical fish, coral reefs, and maybe even shipwrecks. To make it even more fun, you can have a scavenger hunt and see who can spot the most sea turtles, rays, and fish.

Check Out the Best Glass Bottom Boat Tours in Key West

Enjoy Water Sports on Smathers Beach

Head to Smathers Beach for a day of water sports and beachside fun. It is the biggest public beach in Key West, spanning about half a mile. Children aged 5 and under can get a free pass to Smathers Beach from Sunset Watersports

With this pass, they can play in the sand and have fun at the beach without any cost. You can rent things like kayaks and paddleboards there, and they also have umbrellas you can rent. 

You can enjoy water sports like jet skiing, parasailing, volleyball, and building sandcastles.

Check Out the Best Smathers Beach Tours

Visit the Dry Tortugas National Park

Visiting Dry Tortugas National Park is a special adventure your kids won’t forget. It is about 68 miles away from Key West, out in the Gulf of Mexico. You can only get there by ferry or plane. 

This park protects Fort Jefferson and the Dry Tortugas Islands. Spend the day there checking out Fort Jefferson, an old fort from the 1800s, and snorkeling in the clear water full of colorful coral reefs and sea creatures. 

The park also has a few campsites where you can stay overnight, and you can do things like kayaking, canoeing, watching wildlife, and fishing for fun.

Of all the places I’ve been to in the Keys, the Dry Tortugas tops the list for snorkeling. In fact, I worked at a dive shop in Roatan, Honduras, lived in Hawaii for 5 years, and have been to Okinawa and the Dry Tortugas is still high on my list.

Where to Eat in Key West with Kids

If you’re looking for family-friendly dining places in Key West, here are some popular options.  

Blue Heaven (729 Thomas St)

This famous family-friendly restaurant is in Bahama Village. It has a beautiful backyard setting with palm trees. 

They serve tasty food like eggs benedict and jerk chicken. If you have kids, they’ll love it too because there’s lots of space to play around, and they even have a ping-pong table.

Fisherman’s Cafe (205 Elizabeth Street)

It is a quick breakfast and lunch option near the Historic Seaport that offers huge, tasty breakfast sandwiches. They focus on flavors from Old Key West and Cuba. Try their Cubano breakfast sandwich or a blackened shrimp club wrap. 

There is a walk-up window near the docks, where you can enjoy your food while watching boats and pelicans.

El Meson De Pepe (410 Wall St)

Located in Mallory Square, El Meson de Pepe is a family-owned Cuban restaurant. After enjoying the sunset, sit on the patio and listen to live music. Adults can order mojitos. 

They serve tasty dishes like ropa vieja and Cuban sandwiches. Kids can choose from burgers and chicken fingers with fries.

Where to Stay in Key West with Kids

When it comes to accommodations, Key West is home to a range of budget-friendly and luxury hotels and guesthouses. Here are some popular options.

Casa Marina Key West, Curo Collection

Tripadvisor.com

Casa Marina Key West is located near Duval Street. It features family-friendly amenities, including a private beach, two swimming pools, an on-site spa, family suites, and much more.

Santa Maria Suites

Tripadvisor.com

Santa Maria Suites is located close to South Beach and the Southernmost Point. It features 2 outdoor pools with sun loungers, a poolside bar, a terrace, an on-site restaurant, and spacious rooms and suites with modern comforts. 

At the resort, you can also enjoy cycling with kids.

Find more kid-friendly hotels & resorts in Key West 

Final Thoughts

Key West is a great place for a family vacation, with endless activities and attractions for kids of all ages. Whether you’re exploring historical sites, snorkeling in crystal-clear waters, or enjoying trolley tours, Key West provides unforgettable experiences that will leave lasting memories for the whole family.



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