Looking for things to do in Key West with kids? This small island in the Florida Keys has a surprising number of family-friendly attractions for kids of all ages. I'm sharing the absolute best things to do from seeing thousands of butterflies, hitting the beach, an aquarium, kid-friendly dining, and even some hidden gems just for families.
Things to Do in Key West With Kids
Wondering if there are things to do in Key West with kids? Key West is known as an eccentric party town with lots of bars and nightlife, but you might be surprised to learn that there are a number of family-friendly and kid attractions for visitors that make this island at the end of the Florida Keys a surprising family vacation spot. If you look beyond the typical bars there are actually fun attractions and endless nature for kids of all ages to explore.
I've visited Key West five times and this last time brought along my 4-year-old twin boys, and they absolutely loved it. From feeding sharks, walking among thousands of butterflies, boating to a private island, exploring mangroves, going to a sunset celebration, trying to find the best Key Lime Pie in Key West, riding a conch train and even hitting the beach (yes, there are few beaches in Key West for kids!) my kids had a magical time on this little island. It wasn't hard to keep them away from the adult fun.
Key West is an island in the Florida Keys, which is a chain of islands off the Florida coast that is connected by an overseas highway. And yes, this tiny island is much more than a party town.
Is Key West worth visiting with kids?
Yes! There might be more obvious family vacation destinations in Florida like Disney but you'll be surprised that it has an unexpected amount of things to do in Key West with kids.
Is Duval Street kid-friendly?
It depends! If you are going during the daytime, especially in the morning, you will be fine as a family. I wouldn't take my kids down the street later in the afternoon and at night at all because that's where most of the people are there for the bars and partying and just don't know what you'd see. One note for parents is that even during the day, and if your kids are old enough to read, I would be cautious of letting them read to many of the store windows as many shirts were a bit vulgar for kids. It's not unsafe, but I'd just be aware of it and decide what you are comfortable with. We mostly steered clear of Duval Street with our kids but spent more time in the surrounding areas and Mallory Square.
With all that being said, beyond Duval Street, there is such a long list of things to do in Key West with Kids. Let's dive in with 25 of the best, so you can plan your next trip.
25 Fun Things to Do in Key West with Kids
Key West Aquarium
The Key West Aquarium is one of the top things to do in Key West with Kids. It's not a big city aquarium and is on the smaller side, but it is still quirky and full of old-school Key West-style charm. They have sea turtles, fish, eels, barracuda, and even sharks.
There are indoor and outdoor areas to explore.
Highlights for the kids are the interactive animal feedings including shark feedings. They also have touch tanks with conchs, sea stars, sea urchins, sea cucumbers, giant hermit crabs, and horseshoe crabs.
Key West Butterfly and Nature Conservatory
The Key West Butterfly and Nature Conservatory are on the very top of any list of best things to do in Key West with kids. Located right off Duval Street, this charming spot is home to nearly 60 butterfly specials and 20 exotic bird specials in a gorgeous tropical garden.
The greenhouse area had a butterfly area where they fly all around you and it's simply magical. I have been to this place four times before and it was still incredible to see, especially now through the eyes of my kids.
Kids can also learn about the life cycle of butterflies watch live catipilers in habitats and learn how they turn into butterflies.
Conch Tour Train
The Conch Train was one of the best things to do in Key West with kids. My boys adored it and said it was one of their favorite art of the trip. It's a 75-minute driving tour of Key West where you see all of the highlights of the city including the Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum, Key West Lighthouse, Southernmost Point, Shipwreck Museum, and more. My kids are younger and super high-energy, so I was a little worried about them sitting still on the train for that long but they were entertained enough by the sights that it was no problem at all.
We rode it in one big circle, but you can hop off at 3 different stops around to explore and wait for the next train to get to the next spot, making it a great way for kids to see everything in town without having to walk too much. It was a great way to see everything when they really couldn't walk the entire city.
Do it on your first day to get your bearings and decide what else you'd like to see. I also recommend going in the morning because it's not as busy and not as hot.
You can also do the Old Town Trolley Tours, which offers a similar tour in a covered trolley instead of the train.
Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park
Looking for things to do in Key West with kids? Make sure to add Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park to your list. The way Key West is formed, there are not a lot of beaches, but this state park is one of the better ones you can visit. There is a pretty beach that has chair rentals and even a restaurant, Cayo Hueso Cafe, to get lunch or drinks. There are also lots of picnic tables to bring in your own food.
The beach is rocky, which some may think is a negative, but my boys turned into a game by gathering all of the rocks and forming their own fort, making this beach fun for them. There is a roped-off swimming area too.
If you like history, you can also visit the actual fort in the state park, Fort Taylor, which predates the Civil War and is on the historical monument housing the largest caches of Civil War armament in the world.
This was our favorite beach but here are a few others that you can visit too.
Key West Shipwreck Treasures Museum
The Key West Shipwreck Treasure Museum is another top thing to do in Key West with kids. The museum has an interesting collection of shipwrecked artifacts and an interesting history of all the shipwrecks that have happened in the area.
The highlight for most kids though, is the cool viewing platform from the top. You can climb it and get a great view of the city, water and surrounding areas. The Key West Shipwreck Museum is a great addition to your trip because of that cool lookout tower.
Mallory Square Sunset Celebration
The Mallory Square Sunset Celebration is a must-do for any Key West trip including ones with kids. Around sunset each night, street performers, musicians, jugglers, and small carts and vendors with shopping, food, and drinks all gather in Malory Square to celebrate the sunset. There are so many fun things to watch and don't miss the cart that makes fun kid-friendly pineapple smoothies in the pineapple.
It all ends with a gorgeous view of the sunset in Key West, which really can't be beat.
Mallory Square Shell Warehouse and Shopping
Mallory Square has more than just the sunset celebration to explore for kids. There are also a collection of cute shops, including the Key West Shell Warehouse which is fun for kids who love shells. Add this to your list of top things to do in Key West with kids because it's a lot more kid-friendly than Duval Street.
If your kids are old enough to enjoy a boat tour, it is absolutely one of the best things to do in Key West with kids. I'd say getting out on the water in some way while you are on the island is an absolute must. It's just too pretty to not see it!
The waters surrounding the island are stunning, filled with coral, sandbars, mangroves, dolphins, and more. You can book either a group tour or a private charter, to get out on the water and explore. The waters around Key West are crystal blue and so peaceful. It's such a great way to get a break from the busy downtown lifestyle of the city and there are plenty of options to pick from. You can book everything from eco-tours, dolphin tours, or even sunset cruises or dinner cruises. Younger kids would really get a kick out of a kid-friendly glass-bottom boat tour. The fishing is also world famous, if that's something you enjoy.
Our boys loved riding on the boat, swimming, and exploring a remote island or sandbar. They are still talking about our boating adventure. Here are some options for private boat charters.
Private Boat Charters:
It's kind of cheesy, but visiting the Southernmost Point is another fun thing to do in Key West with Kids. It's fun to explain to them the significance of it. There is normally a short time for the cute photo opp. It doesn't take much time and after you are done you can also visit the nearby Key West Butterfly Conservatory and Southernmost Beach Cafe for lunch.
Is a trip to Key West complete without this photo?
South Beach is another must-stop on the list of best things to do in Key West with kids. It's a small beach, only 200 square feet, but it's cute, as chairs and you can visit the Southernmost Beach Cafe which is nearby. The twins and I ate there and they had a great kids' menu with generous portions. The view looks out over the water and the vibe is super casual, making this a great spot to eat with kids.
Key West Lighthouse
The Key West Lighthouse is a fun stop for families in Key West. It's been standing since 1848 when it was built after a hurricane took out the first one. It's 50 feet tall with 13 lamps and 21-inch reflectors. It's been decommissioned since 1969 but is still really pretty and home to a museum. You can also walk the 88 steps to the top.
Explore Local Playgrounds
There are several communities around the island. If your kids are like mine and just need to burn some energy sometimes, these are some great spots.
Also, make sure to visit the brand-new splash pad and water park play area, Key West Truman Waterfront Splash Park, at the Truman waterfront park amphitheater. This new spot is a fabulous water play area for kids that's completely free to use and great shaded spots for parents to sit.
Find the Best Key Lime Pie
Looking for the best things to do in Key West with kids? How about making it an adventure to find the BEST Key Lime pie on the island? The boys got to try one a day and picked their favorite at the end of the trip. The chocolate-covered one of the sticks was their personal favorite. 🙂
Swim in Pools
Add swimming in pools to your list of top things to do in Key West with kids. Most places you can stay on the island have some sort of pool, and the kids love playing in them! Bring your own floats and pool toys for a fun and easy afternoon in the water.
Hogfish Bar & Grill
The Hogfish Bar and Grill is a cool dive restaurant just outside of the city on Stock Island. This local spot might not be an obvious choice for kids, but ask for an outside picnic table near the water and the kids can watch the fish while you eat. The water is so clear and we saw so many fish that it entertained them the entire time we were there. It was like looking into a real aquarium.
It's such wonderful food too!
Key West is known for its amazing and eclectic restaurants. My kids love to eat all kinds of food, including seafood so we didn't have trouble dining well on our trip. Counter-service places like D.J.'s Clam Shack are a great option for kids who don't love to sit for long. Here are a few more kid-friendly restaurant options.
- Conch Republic - A fun spot on the water that's casual, big, and loud enough to where your kids will not bother anyone.
- Blue Heaven - Go to this beloved breakfast spot early to avoid a long wait with the kids. They have all sorts of fun chickens roaming around which is fun for the kids.
- Half Shell Raw Bar
- Harpoon Harry's
Other Things to Do in Key West with Kids Who Are Older
I shared our favorite things to do in Key West with kids, but if your kids are a bit older they might enjoy some of these activities too.
- Dry Tortugas National Park - Dry Tortugas National Park is an amazing sight to see. It's a bit challenging to get to it though. You'll need to either take a 2-hour ferry, hire a speed boat, or hire a seaplane. The island though that homes Fort Jefferson is breathtaking. It's like nothing you've ever seen. If you have a full day on the island to burn and have older kids who can handle the adventure, make it part of your itinerary.
- Hemmingway House Museum - The Hemingway House is one of the most popular Key West attractions and is great for older kids to learn about the author. Animal lovers will also enjoy the collection of 6 toed cats.
- Snorkel Tour - If your kids are old enough and good enough swimmers to snorkel, Key West is a fabulous place to do it. Key West is home to North America's only living coral reef, making snorkeling a must-try activity for older kids.
- Audubon House - The Audubon House and Tropical Gardens is a great way for older kids to learn about life in Key West in the 19th century. History-loving parents will enjoy it too. There are also gorgeous tropical gardens as part of the house.
- Kayak: Another great way to get out and see the waters of Key West is to kayak. If you have older kids who can manage a boat, this is a great family-friendly activity. You can see all sorts of marine life and gorgeous views.
- Parasail: Parasailing is a bucket list activity for many kids and Key West, with its gorgeous crystal blue waters, is a great place to do it. Fury Water Adventures and Sunset Watersports both offer parasailing. Some companies have age restrictions on parasailing, so make sure you read the fine print before adding this to your itinerary.
- Jet Ski: Teenagers will probably love to jet ski the incredible waters around Key West. There are jet ski tours that take you around the island and have incredible views.
Bonus Florida Keys Activities:
- Bahia Honda State Park- About 45 minutes from Key West is Bahia Honda State Park which offers breathtaking views and more natural beaches in the Florida Keys. It's a great place to take the kids for a day trip to explore. It's home to the largest sandy beach in the Keys and home to tours of the nearby reef at Looe Key National Marine Sanctuary. If you have some extra time in Key West, it makes a wonderful place to visit.
- The Turtle Hospital- It isn't technically in Key West, but this Marathon Turtle Hospital and rehabilitation center is so cool to see. It's where they take injured sea turtles in the area and nurse them back to health. This would also make another fun day trip for kids.
Key West is Worth Visiting With Kids!
So after visiting and trying it out myself, I can let you know from first-hand experience that Key West really is worth visiting with kids. There are some truly unique experiences for them like the sunset celebrations, visiting a living coral reef in the United States, the Hemingway House, The Butterfly Conservatory, and even the conch train. It's a great place to talk about the United States' history with Cuba too! Plus, spending time on a fun island is never a bad idea in my world.
More Key West Itineraries to Explore:
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