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I recently visited the Florida Keys with kids for the first time this summer. We have been to Florida several times, however never made it down to the Keys, so we were very excited about this trip.
Planning a trip and finding activities for the whole family can be hard, however when you visit the Florida Keys with kids , you won’t have to leave anyone out of your plans as there are plenty of things for the whole family to enjoy.
How Did We Get To Key West
This summer we spent a total of two weeks in Florida. You can see how I packed the boys clothes in their backpacks below. We flew Frontier Airlines so checking a bag for $60 round trip each was a “No No” for us.
We flew into Orlando and spent the first few days in Orlando and then we went on a four day cruise with Black Kids Do Travel which was just so much fun and we can’t wait for the next cruise.
The morning we returned from the cruise, we picked up our rental car at about nine am and drove six hours to the Florida Keys with kids. We stopped in Miami for 30 minutes and the kids slept most of the drive.
You can get a rental car from the cruise port which is a short shuttle ride away. Just make sure you book a rental car ahead of time because with everyone getting off the cruise ship there may not be enough cars. You can rent a car seat or take your own.
We drove our rental car to and around the Florida Keys with no issues. Do note that there is only one main highway called “Overseas Highway”, so you may encounter traffic getting up and down the Keys.
Other Ways To get To Key West
- Miami International Airport (MIA) – this airport is located three hours from Florida Keys. It is a busy airport and much cheaper to fly into.
- Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport (FLL) – this airport is a big airport about 30 minutes from Miami. Driving from here will only add an extra 30 minutes to your drive down to the Florida Keys.
- Key West International Airport (EYW) – flights into this airport are so much more expensive, however it means less driving time.
- Key West Express – if you’re in the Fort Myers area, then you can take the Key West Express ferry from Myers to Key West. The ferry takes about 3 hours.
Map Of The Florida Keys
It’s important to remember that the Florida Keys are a group of islands, not a single destination. Each island is unique, so this post is divided into five sections.
The climate of Key West Florida is also more tropical than the rest of Florida, closely resembling the Caribbean climate.
You’ll want to pack for your trip accordingly by taking plenty of sunblock, having a water bottle handy as well as protective eye wear and get ready to explore 137 square miles of tropics!
Key Largo is the self-proclaimed diving capital of the world, home to the largest artificial coral reef, and the first of the Florida Keys. Many of Key Largo’s attractions are aquatic, so make sure you have your swimsuits and snorkeling gear ready!
Things to Do in Key Largo
Have you ever been to an underwater park? You probably haven’t! You and your family can check out the marine life by walking the trails, kayaking, or swimming. The park offers wheelchair accessible snorkeling tours, with or without a guide.
If scuba diving sounds more appealing, they have that too! Perhaps the most cost-effective way to enjoy Pennekamp is by renting some kayaks or paddle boards. If you’re with your family, double kayaks are the best way to enjoy the 50 miles of natural wonders. This state park is truly unlike any other!
Swim with the dolphins in this five-acre lagoon! Anyone over 7 years old is invited to play with some bottlenose dolphins in an enclosed area, away from the open water.
Lifejackets are provided for your safety, and you’ll get a 30-minute introduction to dolphin safety. This facility offers a few different experiences, like painting with dolphins and a day-long trainer shadowing program for true animal lovers.
It’s not an inexpensive attraction, but swimming with dolphins is a once-in-a-lifetime adventure!
Looking to do something a little more relaxing? Far Beach is a popular public beach in Key Largo, known for its warm, shallow water. Visitors often float on the water, snorkel, and relax in the soft sand under the palm trees.
Far Beach is part of the John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, so head to the beach after you’ve finished exploring!
Founded in 1980, this wildlife refuge protects crocodiles in Key Largo. Although visitors can’t enter the crocodile habitat, they can learn about their endangered habitats and explore the butterfly garden. There are over 50 native plant species that attract pollinators to this community garden, so there’s plenty to see here, despite being unable to meet the crocodiles!
The Princess Glass Bottom Boat Tour in Key Largo gives you a view of exotic underwater life without having to get wet. People have been known to spot dolphins while on this tour.
Key Largo Snorkeling
Key Largo is well known for snorkeling, so if you’re looking for Key Largo snorkeling tours, here are a few options for you.
- Key Largo Snorkel Trip
- Sundiver Snorkel Tours
- Snorkel Charter from Key Largo
- Snorkeling the Beautiful Reefs of Key Largo
Key Largo Beaches
Looking for the best Key Largo beaches, here is a list for you. You can read more about each beach here – “Key Largo Beaches”
- Far Beach – the most popular of all Key Largo beaches
- Cannon Beach – located in Kohn Pennekamp Coral Reef State park
- Harry Harris Parks – great Key Largo beach for families
- Anne’s Beach – one of the prettiest Key Largo beaches
Key Largo Boat Rentals
- Key Largo Boat Rentals Fishing Adventures
- Sailors Choice Key Largo Boat Rentals
- Florida Friends Key Largo Boat Rentals
- Key Skis and Adventures
- Bump & Jump Key Largo Boat Rentals
- Key Largo Watersports
Key Largo Restaurants
There are so many Key Largo restaurants to choose from:
- Mrs. Mac’s Kitchen
- The Buzzard’s Roost
- Key Largo Fisheries
- Lazy Lobster Seafood Restaurant
- Snook’s Bayside Restaurant & Grand Tiki
Where To Stay In Key Largo
If you’re looking for where to stay in Key Largo, there are plenty of options from Airbnb to hotels to choose from.
- Key Largo Bay Marriott Beach Resort
- Hampton Inn Key Largo
- Coconut Palm Inn
- Bar Harbor Lodge
- Key Largo House
Islamorada is a community of several Keys located 90 minutes south of Miami. The upscale area is the sport fishing capital of the world, though there are plenty of other things to do there. Visit the tiny beaches and small shops on this 18-mile-long stretch of land
Things to Do in Islamorada
Indian Key Historic State Park is an island that can only be reached by boat! Robbie’s of Islamorada rents out kayaks for this 20-minute trip to the intriguing island.
This beach isn’t a traditional beach – rather, it’s better for land activities. Discover the ruins of a tiny empire, hike along the trails, and take in the scenery. At Indian Key, you’re on uninhabited land!
Theater of the Sea is a marine mammal park with several opportunities to interact with animals. Visitors can feed a sea turtle, swim with nurse sharks, and paint with a sea lion.
These activities will cost you extra, but your general admission ticket includes access to the shows and exhibits. Sea lion, parrot, and reptile shows start every 2 and a half hours, so you’ll have a chance to see them all regardless of when you arrive!
General admission also includes access to Theater of the Sea’s Lagoon Beach, where you can snorkel, sunbathe, and swim.
You can easily spend the whole day at one of Islamorada’s most well-known attractions! Once you’ve wrapped up your visit to Indian Key, stick around for some more activities.
There are plenty of opportunities to fish at Robbie’s, including offshore fishing and a split charter fishing experience that will help to keep your cost down as you interact with fellow visitors.
If fishing isn’t your thing, you can rent a jet ski, go parasailing, or take a sunset cruise. Robbie’s truly has it all!
Check out diving equipment that’s been collected over the course of 4 decades! The History of Diving Museum will introduce your family to famous divers and their stories.
Although there are exhibits for everyone at this exciting museum, there are a few special activities for kids here. Your entire family is sure to be entertained!
Here is a list of Islamorada beaches to add to your Florida Keys itinerary. To find out more about each beach, you can read this article on “Islamorada Beaches.”
- Anne’s Beach
- Library Beach and Park
- Holiday Isle Beach
- Long Key State Park
There are plenty of great Islamorada restaurants to choose from.
- Angler & Ale
- Lazy Days
- Lighthouse Grill
- Mangrove Mike’s Cafe
- Robbie’s OF Islamorada
Looking for the perfect Islamorada resorts to book? Check out this list of Islamorada Resorts below:
Marathon consists of 13 islands. It’s best known for its boating activities and beautiful turquoise waters. The beaches here are dog friendly, so you’ll be able to interact with some furry friends (or you can bring your own).
Check out the beaches and boating adventures in Marathon – there are plenty to check off your to-do list!
Things to Do in Marathon Fl
Visit a sandy beach that’s completely wheelchair accessible! With public restrooms, showers, shady areas, and volleyball courts, this beach is great for those who would normally avoid beaches due to the lack of those amenities. Sombrero Beach is truly made for everyone!
Explore the third largest barrier reef in the world at Captain Pip’s! Their 3-hour snorkeling trips will introduce you to lobsters, sea horses, and thousands of fish. A boat with a sightseeing deck and a restroom will give you access to the waters while offering a break if you need one. Whether you want to go in the water or stay dry, this underwater sightseeing tour is perfect for anyone who wants to see some cool marine life!
This 1,000-acre park is uninhabited and well preserved, creating a picturesque tropical wonderland. Here, you’ll find rockland hammocks, mangrove swamps, and seagrass beds – all things you’re not likely to find outside of Florida. Hike along the nature trail, kayak through the water, and bring your kids to the playground!
Eco-tours are kayaking trips with someone who’s knowledgeable about the surrounding wildlife. The tour guide will educate you on the aquatic species in the area, and you’ll have a chance to interact with some of those animals. There are different tours to choose from, including a volunteer opportunity. Get an eco-tour for free in exchange for some ocean cleanup! You can also rent a see-through kayak to get a better view of the creatures beneath you.
Looking to interact with marine species of all shapes and sizes, then make sure to stop at Florida Keys Aquarium Encounters. There are a lot of hands on attractions that revolve around unique aquarium encounters.
There is a schedule of when each aquarium encounter happens, and if you miss it, that’s okay because you can still explore on your own as there is so much to see there.
Marathon Fl Beaches
Marathon has one of the best beaches in the entire Florida keys which is located at Bahia Honda State Park. Marathon Fl beaches are not to be missed!
You can read more about each of these Marathon Fl Beaches here.
- Bahia Honda State Park
- Sombrero Breach
- Coco Plum Beach
Marathon Fl Boat Rental
People tend to look for a Marathon Fl boat rental to help pass time while visiting. Here are a few options for you.
- Island Time Marathon Fl Boat Rental
- Pier 68 Marathon Fl Boat Rental
- Captain Hook’s Marathon Boat Rental
- Coco’s Marathon Fl Boat Rentals
Marathon Fl Restaurants
Here are a few great Marathon Fl restaurants to choose from.
- Island Fish Co.
- Keys Fisheries
- Porky’s Bayside
- Sparky’s Landing Fish and Cocktails
Marathon Fl Hotels
- Holiday Day Inn Express Marathon
- Banana Bay resort Marathon
- Courtyard by Marriott Marathon
- Hyatt Place Marathon
- Tranquility Bay Beach House Resort
LOWER KEYS and BIG PINE KEY
The Lower Keys and Big Pine Key are home to two national wildlife refuges and a national marine sanctuary. Unlike the Upper Keys that were formed from limestone, the Lower Keys come from large, fossilized coral reefs. Young artists flock to this part of the Florida Keys, which is why there’s a cultural festival on Stock Island to celebrate them. Here, you’ll see wildlife species that you likely won’t find anywhere else!
Things to Do in Big Pine Key and the Lower Keys
The Blue Hole is a freshwater lake on Big Pine Key. It’s part of the National Key Deer Refuge, and also houses other native species. Visit the abandoned rock quarry for photo opportunities and to see some cool animals! Once you’re done hanging out at the Blue Hole, take a walk on the Jack Watson Nature Trail. Between your walk on the trail and your trip to the Blue Hole, you’ll still have time to check other activities off of your “to-do” list.
This beach offers soft, white sand and a rail bridge with views of the surrounding islands. It’s staffed with helpful employees who can help you identify marine species, like stone crabs and comb jellies. After you’re done exploring on land, rent a kayak or go on a 90-minute snorkeling tour to see what’s in the water!
Key deer are endangered subspecies of white-tailed deer that can be found on Big Pine and No Name Keys. They’re smaller than the typical deer you’d find in the United States, making them extra adorable. In addition to Key deer, the refuge protects 16 other fish and wildlife species. Visit this important center of environmental preservation to learn more about these endangered creatures!
Meet the great white heron, a species that’s unique to the Florida Keys. Bring your binoculars to the wildlife refuge, where you’ll see up to 250 other types of birds! There’s also a large fishing spot at this bird paradise. In fact, the Great White Heron National Wildlife Refuge has over 123,000 acres of saltwater fishing areas. Bring a kayak or paddle boat to the refuge, since boating is permitted!
Big Pine Key Beaches
- Bahia Honda State Park and BEach
- Calusa Beach
Big Pine Key Hotels
Heading to Key West with kids, then it is important to note that Key West is the southernmost city in the contiguous United States, about 90 miles north of Cuba.
The popular vacation spot offers beautiful wedding venues, a bustling nightlife scene, and lots of aquatic activities. When people talk about the Florida Keys, Key West is probably what comes to mind. A trip to the Florida Keys isn’t complete until you visit the end of the island chain!
Things to Do in Key West With Kids
Fury Water Adventures is well known in Key West and offers several fun family friendly as well as adrenaline activities such as parasailing, jet skiing, snorkeling and kayaking. Do note that most of their excursions are family friendly and your kids will be guaranteed to enjoy it.
Many of Key West’s public beaches don’t have restrooms, but Fort Zach Taylor is an exception to that rule. This makes it the perfect sandy paradise for families. The pre-Civil War fort has a concession stand, picnic tables, and fun beachside activities. Swim, snorkel, or hike the nearby nature trails!
Whether you’re taking your kids to the Keys or not, Blue Chai Charters will provide you with an amazing day so make sure to add it to your list of things to do in Key West with kids.
Let them take you through the Gulf of Mexico to their island destination, where you’ll have opportunities to snorkel, kayak, and play with pool noodles. You won’t have to plan a single part of your adventure!
If you or your kids love butterflies, then don’t miss visiting the Key West Butterfly & Nature Conservatory which is one of the top things to do in Key West with kids. We’ve visited so many butterfly conservatories and this by far is the best one that we’ve been to. So many butterflies everywhere.
Take a city tour of Key West with fun, experienced guides! You’ll be provided a bike, helmet, and a half-liter water bottle for your 2-and-a-half-hour-long adventure. At the end of the tour, you’ll stop at Key Lime Pie Co. for a slice of delicious pie. Get some exercise while sightseeing!
At this aquarium, you’ll see so much more than tropical fish! The Key West Aquarium has a “touch tank,” where you can hold starfish, giant hermit crabs, and other small marine animals.
Looking for things to do in Key West with kids that involve sharks, then this shark exhibit will be a hit because you’ll be able to learn about the misunderstood predators. You’re allowed to take pictures here, so take advantage of that!
Looking for the best way to see Key West, then make sure to ride the Conch Train. This an entertaining train tour that takes you around the island and highlights several attractions as well as shared information on the history of Key West. The boys loved this! This is one of the best things to do in Key West with kids.
Snorkeling Key West
Snorkeling in Key West is generally south out for by people visiting. We actually had a Key West snorkeling tour planned but ended up choosing parasailing and jet skiing instead.
- Fury Key West Snorkeling
- Snorkeling Tour Services of Key West
- Fury Water Adventures Key West
- Sebago Watersports
- Sunset Sail Key West
Key West Hotels
- The Laureate Key West
- Ocean Key Resort & Spa
- DoubleTree Resort by Hilton Hotel Key West
- Key West Marriott Beachside Hotel
- Oceans Edge Key West Hotel & Marina
Key West Restaurants
- Turtle Kraals
- Lucys Key West
- Santiago’s Bodega
- El Siboney Restaurant
Florida Keys RV Parks
As we drove by all the Florida Keys RV Parks, I was a little jealous. I wish we had a camper because the Florida Keys RV parks looked like so much fun!
- Jolly Roger RV Resort – Marathon Camping
- John Pennekamp State Park – Key Largo Camping
- Fiesta Key RV Resort – Fiesta Key Camping
- Sunshine Key RV Resort & Marina – Big Pine Key Camping
- Boyds Key West Campground – Key West Camping
Click here for more details on Florida Keys RV Parks.
Key West Cruise
If you want to visit Key West, but you don’t want to drive down there like we did from Orlando, going on a Key West cruise is another great option. Cruise lines like Disney, Carnival and Royal Caribbean have several Key West cruises a year.
Tips For Visiting The Florida Keys
- Stock up on supplies that you need from Walmart before driving down to the Florida Keys as there is no Walmart, only KMart.
- Pre-book your excursions ahead of time. On days that cruise ships dock in Key West, excursions sell out very quickly.
- Save money with the Key West Sightseeing Pass. This allows you to see many attractions for one low price. It’s definitely worth the savings.
- EAT ALL the Key Lime Pie !!! One of the things I miss about Key West is authentic fresh Key Lime Pie.
Must Haves For The Florida Keys With Kids
Make sure not to forget the must haves below when packing for your trip to the Florida Keys with kids.
The Florida Keys is a great vacation spots for tourists of all ages. Whether you’re travelling with family, friends, or on your own, there’s plenty to do here.
Don’t limit yourself to Key West when planning your trip – make the most out of your vacation by visiting several areas in the Florida Keys with kids.
Sometimes, the little-known attractions are the ones that make your trip memorable. Once you’ve seen everything the Florida Keys have to offer, you’ll never want to go home!
Some activities on this trip were hosted by the Florida Keys Tourism Bureau, however all opinions are mine as always.