Thursday, June 20, 2024

19 of one of the best issues to do in Key West with youngsters


It’s straightforward to consider the final of the Keys as extra of a celebration location than a family-friendly vacation spot, however with so many issues to do in Key West with youngsters, it rapidly turned one in every of our favorite stops in our Florida Keys itinerary.

View of Duval Street with its colourful houses on a sunny day - my tips for the best things to do in Key West with kids

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Set proper on the far southernmost tip of Florida on the finish of the 113-mile Abroad Freeway, there’s loads of historical past to find alongside boat journeys within the Nationwide Marine Sanctuary surrounding the Keys plus some enjoyable household sights.

However among the finest components of a go to to Key West with youngsters is how laid-back it feels: straightforward to walk across the streets, nothing is ever too distant and the historic centre feels very walkable – right here’s my choose of one of the best.

Key West Conch Prepare tour

The most effective methods to get your bearings, and an effective way to discover Key West with youngsters when it’s scorching or humid, the intense yellow and black Key West Conch Prepare putters across the streets with a guided commentary on the realm.

There are 4 stops alongside the way in which, together with one for some procuring, so you may hop on and hop off, or keep on for the entire 75-minute tour.

The Conch Tour Train at one of its stops - the tour is one of the best ways to explore Key West with kids

Alongside the way in which you’ll see quirky sights just like the Southernmost Southernmost Home – that’s its actual identify, not me by accident typing twice! So the story goes, its proprietor was decided to stay in Florida’s Southernmost Home… however when its house owners wouldn’t promote up, she constructed a brand new property simply throughout the road and claimed the title that method.

There are additionally tales of wreckers and pirates, together with the truth that among the earliest inhabitants of Key West made a residing by merely claiming a share of earnings from any wrecks off the coast – the remainder of the time, they obtained to sit down again and calm down.

Add in hyperlinks to Cuba and the Bahamas, tales of cigar-making and saloons, an opportunity to see Ernest Hemingway’s Residence, Harry Truman’s Little White Home and find out about Mel Fisher’s treasure looking (learn on for extra about that!) plus the Key West Lighthouse, Key West Butterfly and Nature Conservatory and an entire lot extra, it’s the right introduction to Key West for households.

Tickets are legitimate for one or two days, and offer you free entry to the Sails to Rails Museum.

Key West Outdated City Trolley Tour

If the Conch Prepare journey has whetted your urge for food, otherwise you need to discover additional afield, take a look at the Key West Outdated City Trolley Tour as effectively, which has 13 stops alongside its route, together with a string of Key West inns.

With trolley vehicles operating round each Half-hour, it’s straightforward to make use of it to get past the walkable centre of Key West, operating from stops close to the waterfront round Mallory Sq. to Bahama Village and all the way in which right down to Fort East Martello Museum, in addition to the Southernmost Level.

Tickets are legitimate for the day and offer you free admission to the Sails to Rails Museum.

Take a ship journey

You may’t go to Key West with out getting out on the water at the least as soon as – the largest resolution isn’t whether or not to take a ship journey, it’s which one to take as you’ll be spoiled for alternative.

There are dolphin-spotting excursions, snorkeling journeys, in addition to the prospect to easily sail round and absorb the surroundings.

One of many stand-out operators is Sincere Eco, which makes use of Key Wst’s first electric-powered constitution boat, Squid, charged by photo voltaic panels, together with a dolphin watch and snorkel journey.

However it’s also possible to discover comparable journeys with Sundown Watersports andFury Water Adventures, in addition to a snorkeling journey from Sebago Watersports.

Or how about watching the solar set from the deck of a ship? Sundown cruises are higher for older youngsters and youths than toddlers and little ones who’re going to get a bit bored watching the surroundings, however my 11-year-old positively wasn’t the one little one absorbing the sunset-inspired soundtrack on our journey.

View of a sailing ship silhouetted against the horizon just before sunset - a sunset cruise is one of the best things to do in Key West with older kids

We took a two-hour sundown sail with Sebago Watersports with an open bar (together with workers topping up glasses with champagne) or it’s also possible to head out on a schooner with Basic Harbor Line, whereas Sundown Water sports activities has their very own tour.

Key West Aquarium

The very first attraction in Key West, the Key West Aquarium first opened its doorways in 1935 – admission 15 cents (and 5 cents for teenagers) again then!

It may cost a little a bit extra nowadays, however it’s a stunning place to go to in Key West with youngsters, particularly in the event you can catch one of many excursions, sharing details about the marine life inside.

The aquarium isn’t large, with a few foremost rooms and a few outside house, however you may simply whereas away an hour or so taking a look at all of the tanks lining the partitions, residence to reef fish, moon jellies, and tropical fish galore, in addition to recognizing eels and barracuda.

Don’t miss the contact tank too, which is enjoyable with younger youngsters, the place you may get fingers on with sea stars and extra.

On the centre, among the rescue sea turtles which make their residence right here and an opportunity to study extra concerning the totally different species. There are some open-air tanks too within the surrounding house, residence to rays and sharks.

E book skip-the-line tickets with free cancellation right here

Mel Fisher Maritime Museum

There’s one thing concerning the phrases treasure hunter that grip you, irrespective of how previous you might be. And the story of Mel Fisher, who spent 16 years attempting to find the wreck of the Spanish galleon Atocha, makes for a fantastic story by themselves.

The most effective a part of the story, in fact, is that he lastly discovered the fabled treasure ship, nonetheless full of riches centuries after it sank in a hurricane off the Florida Keys in 1622.

A go to to the Mel Fisher Maritime Museum brings that story to life, with particulars of his lengthy search, in addition to placing among the priceless items on show.

There’s additionally background on the Spanish conquest of South America, details about each day life and why the ships have been crusing in hurricane season, however probably the most memorable half is seeing the astonishing finds, comparable to golden plates and fabulous jewelry.

Upstairs there are extra rooms linked to the historical past of the Florida Keys, together with tales of piracy (and the pirate’s code for any small buccaneers), in addition to displays on slavery and on the Cuban Missile Disaster. Certainly one of our favourites, it’s a fantastic place for the entire household.

Key West Shipwreck Treasure Museum

Key West’s historical past is tightly linked to the seas surrounding it – not least all these inhabitants who made a residing from the waves, from pirates and smugglers to wreckers, serving to make Key West the richest metropolis per capita in the entire USA by the mid 1850s.

As a result of whereas the reefs surrounding Key West make it a incredible place for snorkeling and swimming right now, they’ve been deadly for ships over historical past – and this quirky little museum is devoted to all of the shipwrecks within the Florida Keys.

Entrance to the Shipwreck Treasures Museum in Key West - one of the unusual things to do in Key West for families

The household pleasant Key West Shipwreck Treasure Museum is about over two flooring in a recreation of nineteenth century wrecker tycoon Asa Tift’s warehouse, with real finds recovered from wrecks across the Florida Keys,

There are costumed storytellers in addition to audio and video that will help you uncover extra, plus some enjoyable interactive displays, like attempting to elevate the 64 pound silver bar from the 1656 shipwreck of the Nuestra Señora de las Maravillas.

And to complete the go to, head up the 65 foot lookout tower for among the finest views of Key West.

Key West Lighthouse

The primary lighthouse in Key West was accomplished in 1825, shortly after the US Navy established a base right here, to attempt to maintain all vessels protected among the many reefs within the shallow water of the Keys

Simply over 20 years later, the present lighthouse was opened, half a dozen blocks from right now’s seafront, to switch the unique 65ft tower.

Decommissioned half a century in the past, it’s now a museum and guests can stroll up the 88 steps to the highest of the sunshine (once more, not the best choice in the event you’re visiting Key West with toddlers!) and study extra about its historical past.

Key West lighthouse, now a museum with some of the best views in town - one of the best things to do in Key West with kids

That features tales of a few of its Keepers – the primary to be in cost of the present lighthouse was a lady, nearly remarkable on the time – in addition to seeing a few of their belongings, images and even learn the phrases of some who lived right here.

There’s a reduction in the event you ebook on-line upfront and it’s included within the Key West Museums Tradition Go together with Fort East Martello.

Key West Butterfly and Nature Conservatory

An important choice for teenagers who love animals and nature, there’s an opportunity to stroll among the many 50-60 totally different species of butterflies which stay on the Key West Butterfly and Nature Conservatory.

A fast flap of the wings from the Southernmost Level market, over on Duval Road, the conservatory homes butterflies from all over the world underneath its glass domed climate-controlled habitat.

Beginning with a 15-minute movie sharing details about the life cycle of butterflies, in addition to some enjoyable trivia, it’s also possible to study extra concerning the superb Monarch migration and see caterpillars feeding alongside the way in which.

There are unique birds to identify as effectively, together with two pink flamingos, Rhett and Scarlett. Flamingo followers may even ebook to flamingle with them as soon as a day at 4.30 – with a most of six visitors, you could prebook to hitch this.

Black and white butterfly feeding on a red flower - one of many to spot at the Butterfly Conservatory in Key West with kids

Sails to Rails Museum

There’s one other probability to find out about life at sea across the Florida Keys on the Sails to Rails Museum – included in tickets for the Outdated City Trolley Tour and Conch Prepare, so it’s straightforward to cease in for a fast go to.

Uncover how sail energy introduced treasure fleets from Mexico and South America previous the Keys on their method again to Europe, in addition to the nineteenth century Navy makes an attempt to rid the Caribbean of pirates, plus the way in which delivery helped Key West growth.

Then there’s an opportunity to study extra about how steam energy took over and the Age of Sail got here to an finish, as railroads opened up new frontiers throughout the nation, its progress by the Civil Battle years, and the way sail endured in Key West regardless of all of it.

Ernest Hemingway Residence and Museum

In case your youngsters are followers of Ernest Hemingway’s works, attending to set foot inside the home the place he lived within the Nineteen Thirties is unbeatable.

Realistically the Ernest Hemingway Residence and Museum goes to enchantment extra to teenagers than preschoolers, though exploring the home continues to be enjoyable for youthful youngsters who’ve by no means learn any of the writer’s books. There’s a brief tour of round 20-Half-hour included within the go to.

Entrance to the Hemingway Home and Museum - visiting Ernest Hemingway's house is one of the best things to do in Key West with teens

Look out for the swimming pool within the grounds too: created at large expense, it was an unlimited luxurious again within the days earlier than Key West even had recent operating water.

In case your youngsters aren’t a fan of Hemingway’s work, there’s one other temptation for youthful kids – cats! Round 60 stay on the museum grounds – and look out for some with six toes, descendants of the writer’s personal six-toed cat Snow White.

Harry Truman’s Little White Home

One other probability to stroll within the footsteps of the good and good with a go to to Harry Truman’s Little White Home – additionally higher with older youngsters than little ones.

The thirty third president spent 175 days at this web site in Key West throughout his presidency, and you may take a guided tour to study extra about its historical past – which began lengthy earlier than Truman set foot inside.

Inbuilt 1890 as quarters for the Naval Base Commander and Paymaster, it was additionally visited by President William Taft, whereas Thomas Edison lived right here for a number of months. President Dwight Eisenhower recuperated right here after a coronary heart assault, whereas John F Kennedy met the British Prime Minister right here throughout the Bay of Pigs incident – to call just some.

And it’s right here that President Truman labored on the Marshall Plan and the Truman doctrine, whereas additionally profiting from any time away from his duties to benefit from the Key West way of life, with historical past tellers sharing some extra about him personally in addition to the home’s place in historical past.

Go to the Southernmost Level marker

Take your home on the southernmost level within the continental United States – which curiously can also be the bottom latitude of land within the continguous North American states at nearly 18 ft above sea degree.

The brightly painted concrete buoy is a reminder that you just’re solely 90 miles from Cuba right here, far nearer to the Caribbean islands than Washington DC.

The Key West southernmost point sign marking the southernmost point of the continental USA and distance to Cuba - one of the sights to look out for in Key West with kids

If you happen to simply desire a glimpse, you may see if from the Conch tour practice and the Outdated City Trolley tour, so you probably have your digital camera on the prepared, you may seize a fast photograph as you cross. If you would like the traditional photograph of your loved ones with the marker, prepare to attend some time to your flip.

It’s finest to keep away from going within the peak warmth as the road usually stretches down the block, though individuals are typically useful about taking the photograph of these in entrance – if you may get there early, you’ve obtained extra probability of attending to the entrance quick and avoiding very bored youngsters questioning why they’re hanging round for this!

For one more photograph opp, it’s also possible to discover Mile Marker 0 in Key West on the on the nook of Fleming Road and Whitehead Road – it’s round a 15-minute stroll from the Southernmost Level. The signal itself usually will get taken as a memento (a bit simpler to steal than an enormous concrete buoy) so there are sadly no ensures although!

Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park

The southernmost state park within the continental US, Fort Zachary Taylor predates the Civil Battle – and nonetheless homes the most important cache of Civil Battle armament on the earth.

You may discover the buildings to get a way of how the troopers posted right here would have lived, in addition to pretending to fireside the cannon and defend the gun ports in opposition to the enemy (digital enemies, in fact, so whoever you select to think about).

Aerial view over Fort Zachary Taylor and the beach within the national park - one of the best places to swim in Key West with kids

There are each day excursions at 11am in addition to data to assist share extra background on the half the fort performed within the Civil Battle and the Spanish-American warfare, with re-enactments each third weekend of the month.

In case your youngsters have a brief consideration span for historic websites, the Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park can also be residence to a sand and pebble seaside if you wish to swim, snorkel and even fish after (or as an alternative of!) exploring inside, with some incredible coral reefs that are perfect for rookies studying to snorkel.

Preserve an eye fixed out for gopher tortoises as you discover the park, plus there are bike trails, nature trails and geocaching actions too.

Hit the seaside

There are a number of seashores to select from at Key West, together with a few of Florida’s finest seashores with youngsters.

Smathers Seaside is likely one of the hottest with households; Key West’s largest public seaside, it stretches for round half a mile with watersports rental together with kayaking and paddleboarding and umbrellas for rent. Carry food and drinks although as there’s not a lot to purchase when you arrive.

Clarence S Higgs Memorial Seaside – or Higgs Seaside for brief – is nearer to Outdated City Key West, and has shallow calm water for fairly a method out, making it an excellent choice with youthful youngsters. There’s umbrella rental plus some free parking right here too, in addition to the one shore-accessible underwater marine park in america.

Clarence S Higgs beach in Key West with its crystal clear turquoise water - one of the best beaches in Key West with kids

Higgs Seaside can also be residence to Fort West Martello and a number of other monuments, together with one documenting the positioning of a nineteenth century slave cemetery right here.

Or Fort Zachary Taylor State Park is likely one of the closest to the Mallory Sq. space (although it’s nonetheless fairly a stroll with youngsters), with some nice snorkeling for teenagers, in addition to the fort’s historical past.

There’s additionally a splash pad on the Truman Waterfront park, which is nice enjoyable for toddlers and younger kids

Go kayaking

There are many probabilities to kayak in Key West with youngsters – in the event you’ve obtained your personal, simply select one of many three seashores to set off and discover, or you may hire kayaks at Smathers Seaside.

For a guided journey, you’ll find excursions to the Florida Marine Sanctuary if you wish to get additional out to sea.

However for one thing a bit totally different, head out into the mangroves to see a unique aspect of the Florida Keys. This Key West Kayak eco-tour is led by a information specialising within the space’s nature – you might spot dolphins, rays and turtles, in addition to iguanas, birds and different native wildlife, whereas studying concerning the space’s seagrass beds and mangrove forests.

Couple kayaking together in mangrove river of the Florida Keys - one of the unusual things to do in Key West with kids

You do have to go to Geiger Key, close to Boca Chica Key for this two-hour tour, however it’s solely round a 20-minute drive from Key West – incredible in case your youngsters love nature.

If that’s too far, or your youngsters are too younger for the kayaking, head to the Florida Keys Eco-Discovery Centre (open Fridays and Saturdays) together with an interactive mangrove exhibit

Key West Ghost and Graveyard Tour

For some spooky enjoyable, climb aboard the Trolley of the Doomed to find Key West’s darker aspect – though this isn’t a tour that’s going to terrify you out of your wits.

Anticipate sinister tales, macabre recollections and a big serving to of comedy on the one-hour Ghost and Graveyard Tour (from Outdated City Trolley Excursions), which additionally heads contained in the Key West Shipwreck Museum for a haunted home bonus, to listen to a couple of Rely and his misplaced bride.

Key West was named one of many high 10 most haunted cities in America, so the tour isn’t in need of materials – every little thing from lynching and homicide to island superstitions and Key West’s most haunted areas, together with the Hanging Tree.

Unsurprisingly, it’s not appropriate for youngsters underneath 4 and is really helpful for teenagers and older. You may go together with underneath 13s although relying the way you suppose they’ll take pleasure in it – you understand finest in case your little one will love listening to about hauntings and horror or in the event that they’re going to have nightmares for per week.

Bike tour of Key West

What’s higher than cruising spherical Key West on two wheels? A bike tour of Key West with Key Lime pie included!

This journey from Key Lime Bike Excursions takes you thru the Outdated City, passing Mile Marker Zero and the Southernmost Level, in addition to Harry Truman’s Little White Home, Ernest Hemingway’s Home, the Key West cemetery and Higgs Seaside alongside the way in which.

Sign reading Florida Keys Scenic Highway and the milemarker 0 - one of the places to visit in Key West with kids

There’s a information to share a few of Key West’s historical past, from smuggling to shipwrecks, with the three-hour tour ending with a slice of Key Lime Pie.

You too can hire bikes instantly if you wish to discover at your personal tempo, with youngsters’ bikes and child seats obtainable, though you could want to order these in the event you’re in search of one thing particular as there are restricted numbers obtainable.

Take a stroll

Certainly one of my favorite issues about Key West is how walkable all of it appears, and it’s made for strolling round.

We visited at Halloween, which meant all over the place was embellished for the vacation, however everytime you go to there’s lots to see – together with Key West’s well-known roaming chickens.

Take a stroll across the marina and Mallory Sq., wander the size of Duval Road – that is the center of Key West and one in every of its oldest components, residence to the Oldest Home Museum and Backyard, a conch cottage in-built 1829.

Entrance to Mallory Square where the Sunset Celebration takes place each night in Key West

Or head right down to the harbor the place the boat excursions set sail, with loads of seats exterior the eating places and shady spots to cease as effectively.

You may even get self-guided walks of Key West like this Outdated City Treasures smartphone tour, to study extra about what you’re seeing alongside the way in which.

Save time to cease in Mallory Sq. Dock in the direction of the top of the day for Sundown Celebration too, with road performers (sometimes a bit risque), road meals, and stalls promoting tempting arts, crafts and souvenirs pop up for the night, whereas everybody waits for the solar to sink beneath the horizon.

Dry Tortugas Nationwide Park

Whereas the Dry Tortugas Nationwide Park isn’t in Key West itself, it makes for a incredible day journey when you’re on the tip of Florida.

Greatest for households with teenagers and older youngsters, because it takes some effort to achieve – the Nationwide Park is round 70 miles from Key West, so it is advisable journey by boat or aircraft to this archipelago of seven small islands. It’s fantastically unspoiled however that additionally means there’s not one of the amenities you may want with younger kids.

Aerial view over the Dry Tortugas National Park including the fort and reefs visible through the clear turquoise water - a great day trip from Key West with kids

The coral reef and shipwrecks are excellent for snorkeling and diving although, and the surroundings is just idyllic, so it’s effectively well worth the effort. Seaplane Seaside, North Swim Seaside and South Swim Seaside are among the finest seashores.

The Yankee Freedom Ferry is the official park ferry, together with entrance payment to the Nationwide Park and Fort Jefferson, or in the event you’ve obtained the price range, the seaplane to the Dry Tortugas has half-day and full day constitution choices.

The place to eat in Key West with youngsters

You received’t wrestle to search out locations to eat in Key West with youngsters – there are some nice household pleasant eating places, to not point out loads of locations to seize an ice cream.

For someplace actually memorable, head over to Blue Heaven in Bahama Village with its outside tables underneath the bushes, stay music, and Floridian-Caribbean menu.

Hemingway as soon as refereed boxing matches right here, though it’s calmer nowadays! Well-known for its breakfasts (though go early), there are restricted reservations for dinner that are effectively value doing – the Key Lime pie to complete was the dimensions of my head.

Fish sandwich with fries in Key West - from Floridian specialities to child-friendly favourites like pizza, there are some great places to eat in Key West with kids

We additionally had some superb pizza at Clemente’s Wooden-Fired pizza on Fleming Road, which was nice for sharing in case your youngsters received’t handle an entire one every.

There are additionally loads of locations to seize a fast meal together with fish, sandwiches, tacos and burgers, like Two Associates Patio restaurant on Entrance Road.

Or Cuban Espresso Queen has nice smoothies and breakfasts in addition to Cuban sandwiches.

The place to remain in Key West with youngsters

You’ll discover loads of family-friendly locations to remain in Key West, together with our personal beautiful base for our journey at Opal Key Resort.

With rooms overlooking the marina, there’s a incredible pool and poolside bar, breakfast overlooking the water and spacious ethereal rooms in cool blue and inexperienced tones. Downtown Key West is correct on the doorstep too, so we couldn’t have had a greater location, plus it manages to really feel luxurious and family-friendly on the similar time.

To be sure to’re by no means too removed from the sights, attempt to choose someplace near Mallory Sq. or the marina, or near Duval Road (though not on it, because the eating places and bars are buzzing till late).

Discover extra concepts of inns in Key West right here, together with huge identify chains like Hyatt and Marriott though these are typically farther from Outdated City, in addition to locations like Parrot Key Resort.

If you happen to favor having your personal house, I’m a giant fan of Plum Information which vets its flats and villas individually, and has a few properties in Key West.

When to plan your Key West break

It pays to time your break in Key West with youngsters to get one of the best of the climate and to attempt to keep away from the crowds – as there’s famously one main highway by the Florida Keys, you don’t need to spend it caught in visitors on the Abroad Freeway!

And whereas March to Might has among the finest climate, Spring break wouldn’t be my first alternative for a household journey!

December to February is cooler (for Key West) however you may nonetheless count on temperatures within the mid 70s, which is ideal for exploring with youngsters.

Aerial view of the bridge connecting the Florida Keys - the Overseas Highway is a memorable drive but best to plan your trip to avoid traffic if you're visiting Key West with kids

Once we visited in late October/early November, it was heat, the climate was nonetheless typically excellent (though sometimes a bit windy for boat journeys) and we weren’t preventing the crowds so it’s one other good time to contemplate.

Hurricane season sees the worst tropical storms from mid-August to the beginning of October, so it’s finest to keep away from these weeks in the event you can too, in addition to dodging the excessive temperatures and humidity of midsummer.

Lastly, in the event you can test when cruise ships are visiting, do: it made a giant distinction between our first day exploring when one ship was docked and the remainder of our keep after the day trippers had gone residence. You too can test when main occasions are deliberate on the Florida Keys Tourism web site.

Disclosure: This publish accommodates affiliate hyperlinks – any purchases you make are unaffected however I could obtain a small fee. Some content material was freed from cost for the needs of assessment, however all opinions are my very own

Conch practice/harbor/boat journey/aquarium/maritime museum/mile marker/meals/Opal Key Resort copyright MummyTravels, all different photos courtesy of Depositphotos/Shutterstock

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