From a museum featuring shipwreck salvage to one of the oldest marine mammal facilities in the world, Key West is a kid-friendly vacation destination that is sure to create memories for the entire family. Here are some of the top attractions, in no particular order, offered at Florida’s southernmost point. So grab the kids and head to the island city. There’s a bit of something for everyone.
Take a Tour of Key West with Old Town Trolley
There’s no better way to get a comprehensive lay of the land with the entire family than on this popular island tour. Old Town Trolley Tours offers parents a relaxing way to see all the best sights of Key West which includes a variety of kid-friendly attractions. With 13 stops along the way, the highly-knowledgeable and friendly narrators paint a colorful picture of the island’s dynamic past. One of the best features of the tour is that it’s Hop-on Hop-off, meaning you can disembark at any stop at any time and explore the surrounding area at your own pace. Afterward, when you’re ready to continue your adventure, you simply re-board at any of the spots you choose!
Key West Aquarium
Home to sea stars, sea turtles and everything in between, the Key West Aquarium is a must-see for any age. Located in Mallory Square, the Aquarium is one of the island’s most popular attractions and with good reason. Check out the daily shark feedings, jellyfish exhibit and touch tank for an up close and personal experience of the area’s more prevalent marine life.
Key West Shipwreck Museum
Step back in time and discover the area’s unique maritime heritage at the Key West Shipwreck Museum. Open 365 days a year, the museum explores more than 400 years of shipwreck salvage in the Florida Keys through actors, films and artifacts. Climb the 65-foot lookout tower and join master wrecker Asa Tift as he narrates the story of Key West’s early pioneers.
The Key West Butterfly and Nature Conservatory
Located right on Duval Street, the Butterfly Conservatory features 50 to 60 colorful and diverse butterfly species from around the world as well as 20 exotic bird species and a host of tropical vegetation. Make sure you leave enough time to check out The Learning Center where kids can learn all about the anatomy, physiology and all-around wonderment of butterflies.
Conch Tour Train
Ride in style on the world famous Conch Tour Train as you learn about Key West legends like Ernest Hemingway, explore historic Mallory Square and nosh at popular locales like Turtle Kraals and Sloppy Joe’s. Operating since 1958, the Conch Tour Train is one of the most sought-after attractions in Key West and a favorite among parents. Kids 12 and under ride free!
Dry Tortugas National Park
Accessible only by boat or seaplane, Dry Tortugas National Park is a remote island destination located roughly 68 miles west of Key West in the Gulf of Mexico. Spend the day exploring Fort Jefferson, a 19th Century fort, and snorkeling the crystal clear water teeming with coral reefs and marine life. The Park also offers limited campsites, kayaking and canoeing, wildlife viewing and recreational fishing.
Hemingway Home and Museum
Explore the home where Nobel Prize winner, Ernest Hemingway, wrote many of his most notable works. Built in 1851, the home is now a museum featuring some of Hemingway’s original furniture as well as artwork and his wife’s chandelier collection. The grounds also host the descendants of Hemingway’s cats and beautiful gardens filled with Angel’s Trumpet, Hibiscus and Gardenias.
From glass bottom boats and parasailing to kayaking and snorkeling, Key West offers dozens of kid-friendly water activities. Check out the Ultimate Adventure with Fury that includes sailing on a catamaran to the coral reef, snorkeling, jet skiing, parasailing, and playing on the island’s most complete water playground.
Monroe County Sheriff’s Office Petting Zoo
Open the the 2nd and 4th Sundays of each month, the Sheriff’s Animal Farm is a place where kids of all ages can meet horses, a cow, pigs, goats, bunnies, alligators, tropical birds, turtles, and snakes. The Sheriff’s Animal Farm is also home to abandoned exotic animals including tropical birds, a kinkajou, sloths, a lemur, an emu, and a family of cavy’s. Guests will be enchanted by exotic wildlife around them on Stock Island. The farm is free of charge.
Fort Zachary Tarylor State Park
No trip to Key West is complete without a beach day. Pack a picnic lunch, grab the sunscreen and head to Fort Zachary Taylor State Park. This site offers activities for everyone in the family. Whether you’re looking to sunbathe while reading a good book, hit the water with a snorkeling mask and fins, explore the wooden nature trails or tour the historic Fort Taylor, this 54-acre state park offers it all. Stick around for great views of the famous Key West sunset.
Nancy’s Secret Garden
Nancy Forrester has been rescuing abused and abandoned parrots for 25 years and has created this special place to house these very unique birds. Children are welcome and encouraged to spend time with the birds… play music, feed them, paint, and take pictures. This wonderful experience, located at 518 Elizabeth Street, is open from 10 to 4 every day for you to bond with these endangered birds.
Watch the Tarpon
Located on Margaret Street near Local Color, Turtle Kraals, and the Yankee Freedom Interpretative Center, are thousands of tarpon that swim along the docks and underneath the boats! It’s a great place for kids and adults alike to walk through the docks and admire the schooners, in addition to watching the fish dart about in the crystal blue water. And it is conveniently located near mouthwatering restaurants and chic shops.
The Yankee Freedom and Dry Tortugas Interpretive Center
The Dry Tortugas Interpretive Center provides visitors a glimpse of the Dry Tortugas National Park. Admission is free. A model of historic Fort Jefferson and Garden Key is the centerpiece of the museum and shows the immense scale and daily activities of the fort itself during post Civil War days. It is located in the Thompson Fish House in the Historic Seaport. Don’t forget to check out the attached Sails to Rails museum!
Gato Pocket Park
A small green space for public enjoyment, the Gato Pocket Park is a recreation of a 1800 cigar maker cottage. Most cigar maker cottages were shotgun houses and can still be found all over Old Town Key West.