Kid-Friendly Things to Do on Your Trip to the Florida Keys
Planning a family vacation should be fun… but if you have young children or kids of varying ages who all enjoy different activities, it can be a major challenge to choose a family-friendly vacation destination.
Enter the Florida Keys: 125 miles of tropical islands, pristine beaches, and crystal-clear waters promise fun and excitement for all ages. Natural beauty aside, the Keys offer many wonderful family-friendly activities like marine life shows, snorkeling, bike rentals, aquariums, and even a shipwreck museum that is sure to entertain visitors of all ages.
You can’t go wrong with these fun things to do with your kids in the beautiful Florida Keys.
What’s the Best Florida Key for Families?
If you’ve been dreaming of a fun family vacation in the Keys, you might feel intimidated by all the choices. There are four main islands to choose from – Key West, Key Largo, Marathon, and Islamorada. Divided into the Upper, Middle and Lower Keys, the islands of this sunny archipelago are connected by one road, the amazing Overseas Highway, with incredible sightseeing opportunities from start to end (not to mention 40+ bridges!).
While this stunning route makes it easy to travel between the Keys, you probably want a home base for your family vacation. So which Florida Key is best for families? It all depends on the activities your family wants to enjoy. Key West has the most amenities, including family resorts, shopping, museums, and state parks. However, it is the farthest drive from mainland Florida (and the southernmost point of the continental U.S.!)
Families with budding anglers will enjoy Islamorada, where you can book an all-day fishing charter. Key Largo, on the other hand, is a hub for snorkeling or diving, and Marathon offers a laid-back trip with beautiful beaches.
Before you commit to one Key for your family adventure, consider what activities you’d like to do on vacation. Here are some ideas to get you started.
One of the top reasons to visit the Keys with kids is to get up close and personal with the amazing aquatic and land animals of Florida. Turtles, dolphins, wild birds, deer, and manatees are just some of the animals you might encounter. Many charter boat companies offer dolphin watching cruises like this one out of Key West.
Of course, snorkeling is a wonderful way to spot marine life, but if you’re traveling with young kids and need an easier alternative, glass-bottom boat tours will excite children (and adults!) of all ages. Departing from Key Largo, glass-bottom boat cruises give your family the opportunity to experience the famous John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, one of the best places in the world for snorkeling and scuba diving. Watch schools of tropical fish, eels, turtles, and more from the 360-degree viewing windows. It’s like being inside a moving aquarium!
Marathon Turtle Hospital
Learn about the rehabilitation of rescued endangered turtles through kid-friendly tours with plenty of opportunities to see resident turtles!
National Key Deer Refuge
Go deer spotting in Big Pine Key. Key deer are the smallest of all white-tailed deer, about the size of a large dog. They are an endangered species found only in the Keys. You can spot them at the National Key Deer Refuge.
Theater of the Sea
Home to lagoons, tropical gardens, and animals like sea lions, stingrays, alligators, and dolphins, Theater of the Sea is an animal lover’s dream. Located in Islamorada, this attraction offers animal interactions like swimming with dolphins, painting with sea lions, and snorkeling with nurse sharks.
Other fun stops include Robbie’s in Islamorada, where you can feed huge tarpon right from the dock, and the Laura Quinn Wild Bird Sanctuary, home to endangered vultures, owls, and hawks.
Despite the warm weather and almost year-round sunshine, rain in the Keys is inevitable. There are also times when you just want to get out of the sun and heat. Either way, we’ve got you covered with these kid-friendly things to do at the Keys’ best indoor attractions.
Key West Aquarium
Touch tanks, an open shark tank, and a moon jellyfish exhibit are just a few of the thrilling displays at the Key West Aquarium. Meet barracuda, moray eels, and turtles!
Key West Shipwreck Museum
Did you know the Keys are home to hundreds of shipwrecks? Vessels from the Spanish explorers of the 1700s make up notable wreck sites from Key Largo to Key West. Discover maritime history, pirates, reefs, and famous wrecks at the Key West Shipwreck Museum, where you enter a recreated 19th-century warehouse of exhibits.
Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum
Visit the impressive Key West residence where Ernest Hemingway lived for 10 years – and wrote about 70% of his life works. The house is open to the public as a museum where you can explore the rooms, take in the French Colonial style architecture, and learn about the life of Hemingway.
Rain Barrel Village
Part tourist attraction, part gallery, the Rain Barrel Village in Islamorada is a funky place to spend a rainy day. Home to eclectic arts and crafts, kitschy souvenirs, tropical resort wear, and all things Florida Keys, Rain Barrel Village is full of surprises. Don’t forget to snap a picture with Betsy the lobster, a 30-foot-tall, biologically correct model of the Florida spiny lobster.
The best way to tire out those little ones is with some fun in the sun! Lucky for you, the Florida Keys offer endless water sports and outdoor activities to keep the whole family entertained.
You can go fishing anywhere in the Keys, but Islamorada is often regarded as the best place to go. It’s also referred to as the sportfishing capital of the world! You don’t have to be a pro angler to have a great time out on the water. Guided fishing charters give you access to all the best spots, as well as equipment and licenses. Fish for tarpon, swordfish, and even sharks!
Pontoon Boat Rentals
Get the whole family out on the water with a pontoon boat rental. Pontoon boats are the ideal family boat choice. They are highly stable, ride smoothly, offer plenty of seating, and are easy to maneuver. Cruise out to reefs, go swimming off the boat, or tow your kids on a banana boat!
Soak up the sun, go for a swim, and build sandcastles at some of Florida’s best beaches. We’re sure you’ll want to spend at least one day at the beach, and no matter where you’re staying, you’ll find wonderful options nearby. Some of the best beaches for kids are Anne’s Beach in Islamorada, Harry Harris Beach in Key Largo, and Higgs Beach in Key West. Find your favorite in our guide to the Keys’ best beaches.
Kayak and Paddleboard Rentals
Get your little ones out on the water on a kayak or paddleboard! Both options are well-suited for kids and beginners, and you can rest assured everyone will enjoy themselves in the calm island waters. Paddle along the coast or venture into a mangrove creek to spot some wildlife.
Last but Not Least, Key Lime Pie!
You’re on vacation; go ahead and indulge your sweet tooth. You can’t visit the Florida Keys without trying a slice of key lime pie. This sweet and tart dessert originated right here in the Keys. Fresh lime juice and sweetened condensed milk join forces to make that melt-in-your-mouth pie filling that will have you reaching for a second piece in no time.
Ready for a fun and relaxing Florida Keys vacation? With this list of activities up your sleeve, your kids will be talking about your trip for years to come.