Key West is a colorful, eclectic city located in the southernmost portion of the continental U.S., and a great choice for a fun-filled family vacation. The area has a wide variety of attractions that appeal to all ages, from the youngest toddlers to adults. You’ll find plenty to do within a short distance from your Key West vacation rental since the area is only about 7 square miles. Spend the day sunbathing as the kids swim at Sandspur Beach, enjoy a day of shopping in Old Town, or make friends with the butterflies at Key West Butterfly & Nature Conservatory. Here are the top 10 things to do with kids in Key West, with options for any age.
1. Ride the Conch Tour Train
For a quick 90-minute overview of the area, hop on the open-air train to get a glimpse of Key West’s most well-known landmarks, such as the Key West Lighthouse, the Southernmost Point. The tour includes stops where everyone can indulge in homemade fudge and ice cream. For a longer tour, or if the weather isn’t cooperating, consider a trip on the Old Town Trolley.
2. Kayak Through the Mangroves
The mangrove islands surrounding Key West provide opportunities for adventure seekers to get outdoors and learn more about local wildlife living in the Keys. Rent kayaks and go at your own pace, or join one of the kayak tours available. Companies such as Big Pine Kayak Adventures also offer motor boat tours of the mangrove and is a great alternative for families with younger children.
3. Visit Ripleys Believe It or Not!
For something unique, check out the displays at Ripleys Believe It or Not! Older children will especially get a kick out of the oddities showcased here. Over 500 strange exhibits fill the building, including a replica of the tallest man, a motorcycle made of bones, and a rare white buffalo.
4. Enjoy the Sunset Celebration at Mallory Square
Celebrate the end of the day at Mallory Square, where locals and visitors gather for a fun-fill evening of street performers, musicians, and acrobats as the sun goes down. Craft and food vendors line the streets, and the area is a perfect opportunity for people watching. Be sure to get there early so you can get a prime spot on the dock to see the sunset.
5. Travel to the Southernmost Point
Located at Whitehead Street and South Street, the buoy marking the southernmost point of the continental United States is a must-see for any visitor to Key West. Capture memories of your vacation by taking a photo of the family with the Atlantic Ocean as a backdrop, then stop by the Southernmost Beach Cafe for lunch and excellent views on the patio.
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6. Relax at the Beach
Key West has miles of beaches, so a day of swimming and picnicking at the beach is a must. Sandspur Beach is an excellent option for families with young children. Kayaking, swimming, and picnicking are all available, and the calm shallow water is perfect for toddlers to splash. Another great choice is Zachary Taylor State Park Beach, centrally located near Old Town and not far from your vacation rental. Lounge in the sand, swim in the ocean or learn history at Fort Zachary Taylor.
7. Get Close to Nature at the Key West Butterfly & Nature Conservatory
Kids of all ages love seeing the spectacular colors of 60 species of butterflies and 20 species of exotic birds at the Key West Butterfly & Nature Conservatory. This climate-controlled building allows you to get up close as they fly above and even land on you. Demonstrations explain the butterfly’s life cycle, and visitors may see one emerge from its cocoon. Afterward, visit the nearby Florida Keys Eco-Discovery Center for a full day of learning about the natural landscape of the Keys.
8. Sail on a Catamaran Cruise
For a relaxing afternoon out on the water, spend an afternoon sailing on a catamaran cruise. These cruises take you and the family out to the only living coral reef of North America, where you can snorkel with colorful tropical fish or lounge in the sun on the deck. Longer cruises are available to the Dry Tortugas or choose a short cruise for a panoramic view of the city from the ocean.
9. Explore Literary History at the Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum
Book lovers feel right at home at the Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum, which celebrates one of the area’s most famous residents. Older kids love visiting the different rooms and seeing where Hemingway wrote his famous novels. The museum is also home to about 50 six-toed cats, and younger kids enjoy discovering them sleeping on bookcases and under bushes.
10. Eat and Window Shop in Old Town
Old Town Key West has plenty of shopping and dining, so walk from your vacation rental to Duval Street and enjoy a day in the city with the family. Try on some locally made Kino Sandals, taste test sauces at Peppers of Key West, or buy unique souvenirs at Yours and Mayan. Take a break and grab some Cuban Ropa Vieja for lunch at El Meson de Pepe, then head to Key West Key Lime Pie Company to try their famous Key Lime Pie on a stick.
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