Though the tiny island of Key West proudly boasts more bars per capita than anywhere else in the U.S., there are a surprising number of kid-friendly activities for families to enjoy! The natural beauty of the island and its surrounding waters make Key West a playground of exploration for the young and young at heart.
Have a picnic at the beach
Grab your sunscreen and towels, and head to Fort Zachary Taylor State Park. The nominal admission fee is well worth it for the serene beach, clean restrooms and concession stand. Enjoy the picnic tables and charcoal grills beneath the shade of Australian pines, snorkel off the beach or stroll through the historic Civil War fort. Kids will want to wear water shoes since the crumbled coral rocks at the shoreline can be tough on tiny tootsies.
Experience the wonders of the coral reef
The coral reef is an awe-inspiring kaleidoscope of colors and seeing it first hand aboard a Fury catamaran snorkel trip will be the highlight of your child’s time in Key West. If your youngster can swim, they can snorkel! Fury’s experienced boat crew give great educational briefings and have fish identification cards to help kids (and adults!) identify the marine life seen at the reef.
Learn about the natural environment
Located just steps from Fort Zachary Taylor State Park, the Florida Keys Eco-Discovery Center is a free educational center with exhibits devoted to Keys habitats and conservation. Kids can enjoy aquariums showcasing living coral and native reef fish, or challenge their brains in touch-screen displays and exhibits. Be sure to catch the short film “Reflections of the Florida Keys,” which follows the life of a young girl exploring her way through the Keys marine environment.
Marvel at unique fauna and flora
Escape the hustle and bustle of Duval Street with a trip to the serene Key West Butterfly & Nature Conservatory. Once inside, visitors will have the opportunity to wander through the enclosed environment and discover some 60 butterfly species from around the world and more than 20 different bird species. An assortment of blooming plants, waterfalls and trees will round out your nature experience. After exploring the habitat, make your way to The Learning Center to gain a better understanding of the conservatory’s wildlife.
Explore the reef without getting wet
For little ones who may not yet know how to swim, Fury’s Glass Bottom Boat trip is a great way to experience the wonders of the marine environment without getting wet. The air-conditioned catamaran offers multiple viewing windows from which to marvel at the coral reef below. The trips are two hours in length, just the right amount of time for the short attention spans of kids.
Build the ultimate sand castle
No day at the beach with kids is complete without building a sand castle, but the folks at Sandisle don’t make your run-of-the-mill sand structure. These record-breaking, award-winning, television-show-appearing professional sand sculptors teach Sand Sculpting 101 at Casa Marina Resort beach. Kids as young as six are able to take the two and a half hour workshop (with a parent or guardian) where they learn the fundamentals of creating incredible sculptures using just sand and water.
Make new underwater friends
A visit to the Key West Aquarium is guaranteed to delight the animal lovers in your family. Make sure you don’t miss anything by taking a guided tour of the aquarium to discover the many sea life exhibits. You’ll also witness your tour guide feeding the inhabitants along the way. For the adventurers, get an up close experience at the touch tanks, home to conchs, sea stars, sea urchins, crabs and even sharks!
Hang out at Mallory Square
This waterfront esplanade is ground zero for all things Key West and its great for all ages. You’ll find vendors selling all manner of wares, street performers juggling or riding giant unicycles, food stands and of course, this is the most famous place from which to salute the sun before it sinks into the horizon.
Ripley’s Believe It Or Not Museum
The only place in Key West where you’ll be greeted by a man-eating shark, an 8-foot tall statue of Cpt. Jack Sparrow made from recycled car parts, or a beautiful carving of a landscape made entirely out of camel bone. If you think that’s weird, that’s just the lobby! More unbelievable exhibits await you inside!
The Butterfly Effect
Technically insects, but closer to resembling some unusual species of bird, butterflies are some of nature’s most delicate and beautiful creations.Stroll through a fascinating glass enclosure where you become immersed in a world of 50-60 different kinds of butterfly and you’ll find quite a few species of bird here as well. This place is like no other attraction on the island.