Make Lasting Memories: 10 Key West Attractions for Families That Everyone Will Enjoy
Every year, Key West, FL, and surrounding regions welcome over five million visitors. That’s more than the entire population of Louisiana! With beautiful scenery, luxurious accommodations, and lots of things to do, it’s no wonder this city is so popular with visitors from all over the world.
But figuring out what to do in Key West can be tough. You’re spoiled for choice with a range of world-class attractions. So, how can you choose the best ones for you and your family?
If you’re planning on visiting the area with your family, you’ll no doubt want to do as much planning as possible in order to make the most of the trip. That’s why we’ve put this guide together to help you understand the best Key West attractions for families. Read on to find out about the best things to do in Key West.
1. Enter a Whole New World at Key West Aquarium
One of Key West’s best-known features is its glittering coastline. So, it only makes sense that Key West Aquarium is often said to be a must-visit when on a Key West family vacation.
There is a true treasure trove of aquatic life inside the aquarium. At the glass, you can come face to face with jellyfish, Atlantic shore fish, and even sharks. If you want to go a step further, join one of the guided tours and you’ll get the chance to touch sharks!
And it’s not just about fish! There are all kinds of other sea creatures here too, including crabs, sea turtles, and alligators. There is even a touch tank featuring sea cucumbers, conches, and horseshoe crabs, which is always a hit with kids who like to get hands-on.
This historic building was opened way back in 1934. Despite its age, it’s still as popular as ever, but the admission price has risen a little from the original 15 cents!
2. Take a Trip to the Past at the Shipwreck Museum
Avast, ye landlubbers! The Shipwreck Museum offers a fascinating alternative look into Key West’s maritime history. With a combination of video screens, interactive displays, and live actors, the museum supplements the shipwrecks themselves.
The guides will tell you all about more than 400 shipwrecks found off the coast of Key West. They can liven up the experience by showing you real live treasure, including a 64-pound silver bar from the 17th century.
Excitable kids and history buff parents alike are sure to love exploring the museum. Here, you’ll learn all about the pirates and pioneers who sailed these coasts. The highlight of the museum is the lookout tower, a 65-foot tall structure offering amazing views of Key West.
3. Swim With Dolphins
Atlantic bottlenose dolphins live in the waters around Key West. These seafaring mammals are intelligent and gregarious. They’re very popular with tourists and their antics can often be witnessed and photographed by lucky passers-by.
Wouldn’t it be magical to get into the water with these amazing creatures, coming practically face to face with dolphins? Key West is a place where many dreams come true and that includes the dream of swimming with dolphins!
A range of local companies can help you get in the water alongside these wonderful critters. From snorkeling alongside the dolphins to stroking those long bottle noses, this is an experience not to be missed. It’s perfect for children aged five and over and an attendant will be on hand to make sure everyone stays safe.
4. Learn About Nature at Florida Keys Eco-Discovery Center
This is the ideal spot for nature lovers. Florida Keys Eco-Discovery Center aims to teach visitors about the wonderful coral reefs and other ecosystems around Key West.
There are video screens and exhibits explaining the delicate balance of Florida ecosystems. You can also enjoy viewing a replica of the Aquarius underwater ocean lab and a live camera feed from under the ocean.
The center is newly equipped with a huge reef aquarium, allowing you to get up close and personal with some of Florida’s most striking natural features. The different types of colorful coral are surrounded by tropical fish, making this an attraction that’s fun and fascinating in equal measure.
5. Visit the Ernest Hemingway House
If you’re looking to take in a little culture, the Ernest Hemingway House could be for you. The famed writer lived here during the 1930s and wrote many of his best-loved works inside the house.
Today, the house serves as a museum and a testament to one of America’s great writers. Visitors can wander the house, viewing the writing studio, veranda, gardens, and pool.
Hemingway famously kept cats at the house after being given one by a ship’s captain, and the descendants of these furry friends can still be seen around the property today. They’re easy to recognize as a genetic abnormality means they have extra toes. There is a miniature house on the grounds for the cats to enjoy.
Located on Whitehead Street, just across from the Key West lighthouse, the house is Key West’s most popular tourist attraction. It’s open every day from 9AM until 5PM and there’s no need to pre-book.
6. Ride the Conch Tour Train
All aboard! The Conch Tour Train is fun for kids and grown-ups alike, winding its way around the Key West streets and taking in some of the most famous sites of the city.
Rides are available every day and you can learn about history, nature, and local folklore over the course of the ride. You may even hear a thing or two about Key West hauntings and ghosts!
The engineers serve as tour guides as well as train drivers and will be happy to give you an overview of the city during your ride. Best of all, kids under 12 ride free, so this is a very affordable attraction for families with young kids.
7. Enjoy Island Life at Dry Tortugas National Park
Dry Tortugas National Park is anything but dry. In fact, it’s located on an island, so you’ll need to take a ferry or seaplane to enjoy it. You’ll find lots of transport providers in Key West.
This island park features a variety of shallow pools and great beaches for snorkeling and other water sports. There are great hiking trails too which wind between stunning nature and the striking ruins of Fort Jefferson.
8. Spot Beautiful Bugs at Key West Butterfly & Nature Conservatory
Another important part of Florida’s ecosystem is its huge number of bugs. That includes a large selection of rare and colorful butterflies. Many of these impressive creatures can be found at the Key West Butterfly & Nature Conservatory.
There are said to be over 2,000 butterflies at the conservatory and many will land right on your skin, creating the perfect opportunity for some perfect vacation snaps. The conservatory itself is made up of beautifully maintained gardens, lined with flowing streams.
Butterflies aren’t the only beautiful winged creatures at the conservatory. There is also a small flock of resident flamingos. You can book a tour for the family in the evening and your kids will get the chance to get up close to the flamingos.
9. Cool Off With Watersports
All that gorgeous Key West coastline isn’t just fun to look at. It also provides plenty of opportunities for fun. You can enjoy a wide range of watersports here in town.
Whether your family is the adventurous type or you prefer something a little more laid back, there will be something here for you. You can go snorkeling and enjoy the wonderful variety of aquatic life hidden just below the water’s surface, or enjoy windsurfing, parasailing, jet skiing, and more.
Fury Water Adventures and Sebago Watersports both offer plenty of different opportunities. They provide trained instructors and the proper safety equipment to help you have fun without having to worry. Take a browse around and you’re sure to find a company offering what you need.
10. Relax or Have Fun at Higgs Beach
Key West is home to a wide variety of beaches but Higgs Beach might be one of the best. There are lots of opportunities for fun here, with volleyball and tennis courts provided, along with a dog park and a children’s playground. So, if you’re wondering what to do with kids in Key West, the beach offers a whole host of options for you.
If none of that appeals, you could spend the day making sandcastles or paddling in the shallow water. Or just sit back and catch some rays! This is Florida after all, so you’re practically guaranteed sun.
There are also lots of great places to eat nearby. What could be better than enjoying some Floridian cuisine after a day at the beach while staring out over gorgeous ocean views.
11. Take a Picture at the Southernmost Point
Key West claims to feature the furthest south point in the continental United States. The claimed point is marked with a special buoy.
It’s important to note that this attraction isn’t the real southernmost point in the US. But it is the furthest point south that’s easily accessible to the public.
Even with that knowledge, this is still a must-see on a family vacation to Key West. Plus, it makes a great photo op! Visiting the Southernmost Point is a fun experience that won’t cost you a dime.
12. Take a Boat Ride on the Atlantic
If you want to enjoy the Florida coast in a new way, why not take a boat ride? Getting out on the water is a great way to relax and it allows you to enjoy magnificent Florida views from a different perspective.
There are lots of different boating options for you to enjoy around Key West, including private cruises. The Key West Express is another excellent option, traveling sat high speed to Ft. Myers Beach and Marco Island. These well-equipped ferries come with sprawling sun lounge areas so you can catch some rays while you speed over the waves.
13. Enjoy Nature and History at Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park
For a mix of historic and natural attractions, Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park is the place to be. Built around a pre-Civil War fort, the main building on the site is a National Historic Monument and once served as a huge armament cache.
Today, the peaceful site allows you to wander the corridors of the fort, or enjoy the surrounding nature. Lots of amazing wildlife lives here and you can wander the trails to enjoy the full 54 acres of parkland.
You can even sit and enjoy lunch beside a real live moat! It’s relaxing, fun, and interesting in equal measure. If you prefer, there’s a café here offering great views of the sandy beach.
This is another great budget attraction, charging only $6 per vehicle, although there is an extra fee if you choose to use a tour guide.
Get Around in Style
There’s so much to do in Key West, you don’t want to spend lots of time waiting around for buses or walking from place to place. Cycling is one of the best ways to get around town, offering you the opportunity to soak in some rays while you go between these amazing Key West attractions for families.
We offer bike rentals for the whole family. It’s a great way of making the most of your trip and enjoying the time between different activities and attractions. Check out our rentals today to find out more about how you can enjoy cycling in the sun.