The Florida Keys makes you feel like your outside of the United States. Apparently so much that some businesses are asked if they accept American currency or if Key West has their own. After all, once you make it down to Key West you’re only 90 miles to Cuba, closer than you are to Miami. With great seafood, Key Lime Pie and a plethora of sunshine is waiting for you year round. So if you’re heading to this beauty with your family here are things to do in Key West with kids.
How to Save Money on Things to Do in Key West with Kids
One of the ways we afford to travel so much is by finding ways to plan vacations without breaking the bank. We were able to save on some of the activities we did with the Key West Sightseeing Pass. We also checked Travelzoo and Groupon to see if they had any restaurant or activity specials that could lower our costs. Don’t forget to grab some of the free coupon books you’ll see scattered around Key West. Even a $2 per person coupon adds up when you’re a family and doing multiple activities.
Things to Do in Key West with Kids: Attractions
Key West has so much to offer families from land and sea attractions. Growing up in Miami my parents took my brother here often, my husband and I spent our first dating anniversary in Key West and now had the pleasure of experiencing it with our children. Here are our favorite things to do in Key West with kids.
Go on a Snorkel Trip
Key West is the only place in the Continental US with a coral reef system so take advantage of that! We used our Sightseeing Pass to cover our 3 hour afternoon snorkel tour with Sunset Key West Tours. We were able to see tons of colorful fish and our boat even had a small slide the kids could slide down and splash into the ocean. The tour is offered daily at 9:00am and 1:00pm. While water and juice is included in the price food in not and no snacks are for sale on board. Be sure to pack something to eat for yourself and your kids.
Rent a Boat for the Day and Explore the Various Keys
We booked a private boat tour through Mellow Adventures who took us out for the whole day. We started out on a quick boat ride from their dock to one of the channels in the middle of the ocean where we could enjoy stand-up paddle boarding. It was so calm and beautiful in this area and we enjoyed ourselves.
After paddle boarding we explored some of the other Keys, like Mud Key and Snipe Key. Snipe Key is a must and was my favorite as it’s literally a sand bar in the middle of the ocean and it was so peaceful and relaxing. A few of the trees here have swings which my kids absolutely loved.
To end our boat tour we watched the sun set in the middle of the ocean. It was one of the most beautiful sunsets I’ve ever seen with a completely clear view.
Shipwreck Treasures Museum
My girls are obsessed with pirates so when looking for things to do in Key West with kids we had to visit the Shipwreck Treasures Museum. While the treasures in the museum are from shipwrecks and not pirates taking over my 3 and 5 year old couldn’t tell the difference. They were just happy to walk around with the treasure maps they have for kids so they could look for the treasure. Be sure to ask the ticket agent on the way out for actual treasure, they will give your kids treasure coins.
The cheapest way to book tickets is online as tickets are 10% cheaper unless you have the Old Town Key West Go Pass. Regular prices are $16.11 for adults, $9.66 for kids 4-12, and free for kids 3 and under. The museum is open 365 days a year from 9:00am-5:00pm.
Walk Along Duval Street
Duval Street is famous for a reason! On weekends it’s vibrant and closed off from cars as vendors line the streets. You’ll find freshly made street food, beautiful art work and often times live musicians. It’s a great place to hang on Saturday evenings.
The Key West Butterfly and Nature Conservatory
I asked my audience on Instagram for suggestions on things to do in Key West with kids and by far the best recommendation was to visit the Butterfly Conservatory. My daughters loved this place so much we walked through it twice (admission is good for the entire day so you can leave and return as you please). Before going in the conservatory you get to go through a room that teaches you all about the life cycle of butterflies and see a few types going through the process themselves.
Once you are inside there are thousands of butterflies flying around. While you can’t reach out for them if they land on you that’s just fine and we saw them land on quite a few people. There are also colorful birds and two flamingos inside the conservatory. Right before you exit you might get lucky and see one of the butterflies birthing themselves in the glass enclosure, we saw two! The conservatory is open 365 days a year from 9:00am-5:00pm but it does has holiday hours on Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. It costs $12 for adults, $8.50 for kids 4-12 and is free for kids 3 and under. There are coupon books that offer a $2 discount on each ticket so find one before you go in!
Key West Lighthouse
The Key West Lighthouse opened in 1848 after the U.S. Navy established a base in Key West. It hasn’t been a functioning lighthouse since 1969 and now it’s a museum. You and your kids can walk up the 88 steps to the top for great views of Key West. My 3 and 5 year old walked up and down themselves so it is definitely doable with young children. After climbing the lighthouse you can go through the Keeper’s quarters and read about the families who lived in the home and kept the lighthouse burning. It’s open daily from 9:30am-4:30pm except for Christmas day. Admission for adults is $12, children 6 and up are $5, and children under 6 are free.
Go to the Southernmost Point in the Continental US
You cannot visit Key West without visiting the marker for the southernmost point in the Continental US. From this symbol you are just 90 miles from Cuba! Come in the evening, especially in the summer as there can often be a line to take a photo and it’s just too hot to be standing still. We arrived around 6:15pm when the sun wasn’t as bad and only waited maybe 5 minutes.
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Ripley’s Believe it or Not!
We’ve passed by the Ripley’s Believe it or Not in Orlando on multiple occasions but never went in. Since it was also covered by the Sightseeing Pass we figured why not. It’s the perfect activity for a rainy day or when the sun is just too hot to be outside. Our kids were so amazed by the different things they saw and enjoyed trying to see if they could do some of the unique things we saw as well.
Without the pass buying online is your best option at prices are reduced from $16.99 for adults to $12.99 and kid prices are lowered from $9.99 to $7.99. Kids under 5 are free! It’s open 7 days a week from 10:00am-8:00pm.
Things to Do in Key West with Kids: Swim at the Beach
While Key West isn’t known for its beaches like Miami you can still get your beach on. Two of the top beaches here are Smathers Beach and Fort Zachary Taylor Beach but there are others.
Smathers Beach is the largest beach in Key West with two miles of shoreline. It’s a public beach so it’s free to use but like most of Key West you’ll have to pay for parking. It’s the best beach in Key West for young kids since the current isn’t strong in this area.
Fort Zachary Taylor Beach
Key West beaches are mainly man made but not Fort Zachary Beach. If your family is looking to spot wildlife this beach if your best option. Visitors often spot turtles, dolphins, or tarpon.
Not to be confused with the South Beach in Miami, South Beach in Key West is perfect for families. The water at this beach is very shallow so even with small children they’ll be able to enjoy the sea.
Things to Do in Key West with Kids: Eat Key Lime Everything
If your kids are foodies like mine they will love trying all the delicious treats Key West has to offer. My eldest daughters favorite thing to do in Key West was ranking Key Lime pies from several different restaurants and pie shops. Her favorite was Kermit’s Key West Lime Shoppe followed by Mattheessen’s, Blue Heaven, and the Key Lime Pie Co. During parts of the year Key Lime Pie Co. offers Key Lime Pie cooking classes and has a special class for kids ages 2-4.
Things to Do in Key West with Kids On the Drive Back to Miami
While Key West may take a lot of the shine from The Florida Keys it’s not the only island apart of the keys. Break up your drive to Key West with kids by making stops along the way. Here are a few suggestions along with their distance from Key West.
Theater of the Sea
Theater of the Sea is in Islamorada, FL at mile marker 84.5. It serves as a rehabilitation center for animals that sustained injuries in the wild and are non-releasable due to the extent of them. They host dolphin, sea lion, and parrot shows along with exhibits for crocodiles, sea turtles, nurse sharks and many other fish.
Theater of the Sea is open 365 days a year from 9:30am-5:00pm and offers free parking. Tickets are $35.96 for seniors 65+, $39.95 for those 11+, $22.95 for those 3-10 and free for children 2 and under.
The Turtle Hospital is a great place to stop with kids on your way to or from Key West. They rescue, rehab, and then release the healed sea turtles back into the waters of the Florida Keys. The tour starts with an educational presentation about the various species of turtles found in the Keys. Afterwards you can see the operation room and the turtles who are currently being rehabbed at the facility. At the end you’re able to feed the turtles if you’d like!
The Turtle Hospital are open 7 days a week with tours every hour on the hour starting at 9am with the last tour starting at 4pm. Tickets cost $25 for adults, $12 for children 4-12 and free for children 4 and under. A limited number of spots are available on each tour so make a reservation at 305-743-2552. It’s located in Marathon at mile marker 48.5.
Robbie’s is the perfect place to take a break as it’s about the midway point between Miami and Key West at mile marker 77.5 in Islamorada. Whether you’re hungry and want to eat or the kids need an activity you can easily spend a few hours. The kids favorite things to do at Robbie’s is feed the tarpons. For $2.25 per person you can enter the dock and buy a bucket of fish with 5-8 fish for $4.00 to feed the tarpons. It’s quite a site to see them leap out of the water to grab the fish out of your kids hand. Parents this activity is fun for you too!
Where to Stay in Key West with Kids
Marriott Beachside Hotel
Traveling with kids can be expensive and Key West isn’t the cheapest destination accommodations wise to begin with. Thankfully we not only found a great hotel for kids but we got $173.15 cash back by booking our hotel using the Dosh App. You can read more about that here. We stayed at the Marriott Beachside Hotel which is about 10-15 minutes from Duval Street.
The hotel is perfect for traveling with kids as they offer 1, 2 and 3 bedroom apartment style rooms with full kitchens. With the cost of food in Key West having the option to go grocery shopping and cook some meals at your hotel can save you a lot of money. Still you get the amenities of a well known hotel brand including a 24 hour pool, fitness center and on-site restaurants.
Isla Bella Beach Resort and Spa
If you don’t want to stay in Key West Proper, Marathon is a great alternative. Just one hour North of Key West it’s easy to get to the action but also away from all the noise. The Isla Bella Beach Resort and Spa just opened in mid-2019 so it’s a beautiful new property. We enjoyed our stay here on our most recent visit to the Keys.
What I like most about this resort is all the fun activities they offer. They have corn hole, ping pong, two huge life-size chess boards, a large resort pool and 5 smaller pools. They also do things like yoga, bracelet making and more. We didn’t have dinner on site but breakfast and lunch were both good. You can read reviews on the property here.
We had a great time exploring the Keys. Hopefully these tips on things to do in Key West with kids will help you plan your next family vacation. Did you find this article helpful? Please share it!