Visiting Key West, Florida with the kids is a magical vacation.
The sun is shining, there’s a light breeze, and the water temperature is in the 80s!
When it comes to southern Florida, Key West is one of our favorite family vacation destinations on the East Coast.
Did you know, there are several family things to do in Key West?
While most people tend to think of Key West as a party destination, the southernmost city also has many family-friendly attractions.
There are many fun and exciting things to do in Key West with children, from climbing up the Key West lighthouse and visiting the Key West Aquarium to taking a dolphin cruise and jet skiing in the Atlantic Ocean.
So skip the nightlife on Duval Street and the entire month of Fantasy Fest and follow our guide to make the most of Key West family activities.
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Popular Things to do in Key West with Kids
We have been to Key West with our toddler – in fact we did the Miami Key West Drive on our son’s first birthday – and had a great time.
Even the notorious Duval Street has many attractions for kids during the day.
Key West might not have a theme park like Orlando or Tampa, but it does have museums, outdoor adventures, and wildlife encounters to keep kids happy.
If you are considering a trip with the kids and are looking for the best things to do in Key West with family, then here is our list of favorite fun activities and attractions for all ages.
Visit the Southernmost Point Buoy
Key West’s Southernmost Point Buoy is a must visit for everyone going to Key West.
Fun fact: The buoy is not actually the southernmost point in continental United States! The real point is located on private land and is not accessible.
Families can take a memorable photo with the famous concrete buoy with ‘90 Miles to Cuba’ written on it – a long-held Key West tradition!
Kids enjoy visiting the buoy and the photo serves as a great keepsake of your trip to the southernmost city.
We recommend walking around the concrete buoy to enjoy the panoramic views.
Also look for the Key West ‘One Human Family’ mural on the concrete sidewalk.
Travel tip – the southernmost point buoy is very crowded during the day and we recommend visiting early in the morning or late evening to avoid the lines of tourists.
Take a photo with US 1 Mile Marker 0
If you are doing the Miami to Key West drive in a car via the Overseas Highway, then the US 1 Mile Marker 0 is your end of the road!
Take a photo of the entire family with the Mile Marker 0 to commemorate the trip – definitely one of the best Key West things to do with kids!
The mile marker is located a short distance away from the Green Parrot bar and can be easily missed unless you keep your eyes peeled to the road.
Explore Old Town Key West
Old Town Key West is the best place to learn about Key West’s rich history through the ages.
Here you will find several family fun activities such as the conch tour train ride, the Harry Truman Little White House museum, Ernest Hemingway Home Museum, other historic buildings, and more.
The area also has lots of shops and a fun atmosphere – this is the perfect place to shop for island jewelry, home decor, beach wear, and souvenirs.
Exploring charming Old Town is one of the best things for families to do in Key West.
Enjoy the sunset celebration at Mallory Square
Mallory Square is one of the most lively places in Key West, especially at sunset.
The sunset celebrations take place every evening and are popular with locals and tourists alike.
Families can enjoy live music, street performers, and food stalls while seeing a gorgeous sunset.
Kids love seeing the buskers perform: from fire-eaters and stilt-walkers to drummers and clowns, there are plenty of awesome performances in Mallory Square.
We have often seen kids of all ages dance and tap their feet in rhythm to the lively music.
Mallory Square also has many food stands: you can enjoy guacamole, corn on the cob, and the iconic key lime pie.
Kids can enjoy shopping for souvenirs and the bustling activity of Mallory Square, making it one of the best things to do in Key West for families.
Take a stroll along the Key West Historic Seaport
Key West Historic Seaport and Harbor Walk is a lively dock with 200 years of marine history.
The family friendly seaport has many attractions for kids including feeding the tarpons, looking out for ships in the dock, and people watching from the boardwalk.
Looking to spot some tarpons? Walk along Margaret Street along the Turtle Kraals restaurant.
From here, kids can easily find several tarpons as well as other fishes swimming underneath the boats.
The seaport also has many restaurants, shops, boutiques, and souvenir stands and is the best free thing to do in Key West with kids.
Visit the military museum at Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park
Have teens who love pre Civil War history? Take them to see the museums at Fort Zachary Taylor Historic Park.
Fort Zachary Taylor is a historic Civil War era fort located along the beach in Key West.
It has been declared a National Historic Landmark.
This magnificent defense structure was built to defend the mainland from enemies coming by the sea.
The museum has many historic and military artifacts and is one of the best things to do in Key west with teenagers.
The beach at the park is beautiful and the water is excellent for snorkeling.
If you are lucky, you can also spot dolphins right from the beach.
The park also has many big trees and picnic tables.
The sunset view from here is also amazing and tranquil – a perfect alternative to the busy sunset celebration at Mallory Square!
Also Read: Best Beaches to Camp in the USA
Climb the Key West Lighthouse
The Key West Lighthouse is one of the most iconic buildings on the island.
Overlooking the harbor, it has been a welcoming sight for sailors coming into the Key West seaport.
The lighthouse is now part of Fort Zachary Taylor State Park and can be seen on ticketed tours.
Kids love visiting Key West Light and climbing 88 steps to the top for amazing views.
Enjoy water sports in Key West
You cannot visit the southernmost city on a family vacation without enjoying Key West water activities such as snorkeling, scuba diving, kayaking, fishing charters, and sailboat cruises.
Snorkeling and scuba diving are our favorite ways to appreciate the natural beauty of the coral reefs.
Younger kids will enjoy dolphin tours while teens can have a thrilling jet skiing ride or deep sea fishing trip.
Several companies in Key West rent a variety of water gear; Fury Water Adventures is a popular choice.
Fury Water Adventures also has parasailing available for older kids in Key West.
Spending an entire day outdoors on the water is our favorite Key West things to do for families.
Watch sea life at the Key West Aquarium
Take the kids to see the Key West Aquarium, Florida’s oldest aquariums, while in the city.
It is a great place to take younger children.
There are a lot of creatures from the Caribbean, around the world, and underwater life.
Kids can see sea turtles, tropical fish, open shark tank, touch tank, and other attractions.
One of the highlights is the manatees that live there year round.
If you are looking for something educational as well as fun, the Key West Aquarium is a great option!
Eat the yummy key lime pie
You cannot leave Key West without tasting the famous key lime pie!
If the kids do not like the tart key lime pie, then they can also get chocolates or other desserts at the eateries.
Explore Duval Street
While most people think of the street as Key West’s party hub, this area looks very different during the day.
It is similar to the New Orleans French Quarter: crazy party paradise at night, lots of eateries, sightseeing, quaint architecture and art galleries during the day!
The family friendly south streets are great for people watching, boutique shopping, souvenirs, and eclectic restaurants.
The thing to remember about visiting Duval Street with children is to avoid it at night and during celebrations like the Fantasy Fest in October.
Take the ferry to Dry Tortugas National Park
Dry Tortugas National Park is one of North America’s most remote and least visited national parks.
It is located 90 miles west of Key West and can be reached only via the Yankee Freedom ferry or a seaplane ride.
There are several things to do on Dry Tortugas National Park including visiting Fort Jefferson, snorkeling with sea turtles, and hiking the moat trail.
Historic Fort Jefferson played an important part in the Civil as well as the World Wars, yet remains incomplete.
Exploring the fort barracks and seeing cannon balls on the fort is one of the fun things to do in Key West with kids.
Kids of all ages enjoy the ferry ride as well as time spent on the islands, making Dry Tortugas National Park one of our favorite things for kids to do in Key West, Florida.
Travel tip: Take your own food and water for the kids as there are no amenities on the islands.
Road trip the Florida Keys
Driving a car is one of the best ways to explore the Florida Keys.
The drive from Key West to Miami is about 300 miles long and has plenty of fun things to do for kids such as Bahia Honda beach, seeing the deer on Deer Key, swimming with dolphins in Marathon, and more.
Read our post on Florida Key Road Trip Essential Stops for more attractions.
Unique Things to do in Key West with kids
Key West also has many unique activities for kids which are off the beaten path.
Here are our favorite hidden gems to explore when you visit Key West with the whole family.
Take the Conch Train Tour
The Key West Conch Train Tour is a must-do for all little visitors to the island.
The Conch train tour starts at the Old Railroad Depot in Old Town and lasts about one hour.
The train takes you around some of the most significant historical sites in Key West, such as Hemingway House, Sloppy Joe’s Bar, Fort Zachary Taylor State Park and more!
Or ride the Old Town Trolley
The Old Town Trolley is an excellent alternative to the Conch train to get around Key West Florida.
See major attractions through the open air hop on hop off trolley and make the most of your Key West vacation!
Visit the Key West Shipwreck Treasure Museum
The Key West Shipwreck Museum is a great place to visit to learn about Key West’s maritime history.
The Key West Shipwreck Treasure Museum is a treasure trove of pirate history with artifacts from an infamous shipwreck.
Visitors can see the authentic treasures salvaged from the wreck of Nuestra Señora de Atocha, which sank in 1622.
The museum offers interactive exhibits where visitors can use items like a diving helmet and goggles to explore underwater life and learn about scuba diving safety.
Naturally, this is one of the best things to do in Key West with teens.
Kids can take part in the museum’s popular scavenger hunts or learn to make their own treasure maps!
At the gift shop, kids can buy their own doubloons and pirate costumes.
Go on a Key West Ghosts Tour
One of the most fun things to do with kids in Key West!
Take a ghost tour of the Old Town at night and enjoy listening to spooky stories!
Older kids – especially teens – love this unique attraction.
Catch the sun at Smathers Beach
Love the beach and looking for the best beaches in Key West?
Try Smathers Beach!
This is a good white sand beach with free parking. It is dotted with swaying palm trees and very charming.
It is not as crowded as Fort Zachary Taylor State Park Beach and makes an excellent alternative.
Kids can enjoy activities like swimming, sunbathing, and building a sandcastle with their beach toys.
Be sure to carry water shoes to walk over the rocky sand.
See the stained glass windows of St Paul’s Episcopal Church
This Key West gem is located on Duval Street.
St Paul’s is a Grand Episcopal Church featuring stunning architecture.
It has beautiful stained glass windows and a striking wooden beam ceiling.
Most tours of Key West take visitors to the St Paul’s Episcopal Church.
The incredible stained glass windows are a photographer’s dream and loved by everyone visiting the church; making it a favorite with kids, adults, and families alike.
Be amazed by butterflies at Key West Butterfly And Nature Conservatory
The Key West Butterfly and Nature Conservatory is an amazing place to visit with kids.
Visitors can see colorful and beautiful butterflies fly around in a humid, climate controlled environment.
Kids love seeing the butterflies and can even experience a butterfly landing on them.
They can learn about the life cycle of butterflies and understand endangered species.
The Key West Butterfly and Nature Conservatory also has tropical birds and flowers and is great to spend some time in nature.
Best Hidden Gems to explore in Key West with Kids
Key West, Florida also has several hidden gems and underrated attractions.
These off the radar spots are awesome to visit with kids because of their low crowds, unique attractions, and experiential learning opportunities.
Many of these family attractions are involved with nature and wildlife, making them an instant hit with kids.
Here are our favorite hidden key west kids activities:
See the macaws at Nancy Forrester’s Secret Parrot Garden
The secret Parrot Garden is one of the most fun things to do on the entire island for young kids.
The attraction has an interesting history – environmentalist Nancy Forrester has been rescuing abused and orphaned parrots that live in this garden for almost three decades!
Everyday from 10 am to 11 am, Nancy explains about the parrots and lets visitors get up close with a few in an interactive talk; visitors coming after 11 am are free to explore the garden by themselves.
The colorful parrots and macaws are beautiful and the secret parrot garden is undoubtedly one of the best things to do in Key West with toddlers.
Explore the ruins at Key West Garden Club And Martello Tower
Located inside the ruins of West Martello Tower, the Key West Garden Club has many tropical plants and orchids.
Great to wander around, the garden club is one of the best free things to do in Key West with kids.
West Martello Tower is a Civil War era fort and the smallest of the 3 forts in Key West.
It’s also located next to the Higgs beach, making it a great stop to admire the gardens and nature while at the same time getting some Florida sun.
The garden club has many nature trails that take visitors through a butterfly garden, gazebo, orchid garden, bonsai plants, and large trees.
The gazebo has pretty ocean views.
The garden also has many small salamanders that are a favorite with many kids.
The Garden Club depends on donations – please consider giving back for their good work!
Learn about corals at the Florida Keys Eco Discovery Center
The Florida Keys Eco Discovery Center is an instant hit with kids.
This is one of the most underrated Key West attractions for families.
The Florida Keys Eco Discovery Center is our favorite for three reasons: it has an aquarium, the entry is free, and the learning center is hands down the best place to learn about the Keys wildlife.
In this interactive and educational experience, kids can learn about the Florida Keys fragile ecosystem and the large scale coral reefs conservation efforts necessary to keep it safe.
Visitors can also learn about Aquarius Reef Base, the world’s only underseas ocean laboratory located in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary.
Take a stroll at White Street Pier
White Street Pier is where you go when you want to see Key West from the water but don’t want to charter a sailing tour.
White Street Pier is a long concrete Pier that extends out into the water and is known in Key West as the ‘unfinished road to Cuba’.
The pier is great for bird watching, an evening stroll and to watch the sunset.
You can also fish and walk on the pier and this is a great place to let the kids run free while you enjoy the ocean air.
The pier is also a great place to visit at sunrise.
In windy weather the waves crash along the pier making it a great place to watch the surf.
Enjoy the breeze at Higgs Beach
South of the White Street Pier lies Higgs Beach.
This is a great free beach to visit in Key West with the kids.
Parking is free and the beach has everything for a relaxing vacation: beach chairs, pretty palm trees, and picnic tables!
Pay your respects at the African Refugee Cemetery
There is an African Refugee Cemetery containing the graves of enslaved men, women, and children who came to Key West aboard slave ships next to Higgs Beach.
The memorial is nice to visit with older kids who can appreciate the solemnity of the destination.
See the birds at Key West Wildlife Center
Visited by very few tourists, the Key West Wildlife Center is another free thing to do in the city with kids.
The center cares and rehabilitates many injured birds including hawks, herons, pelicans, and ospreys.
The center also has an aviary for the Key West chickens who are then rehabilitated to an organic poultry farm in central Florida.
Pet the animals at Sheriff’s Animal Farm
The Sheriff’s Animal Farm is one of the best hidden gems in Key West.
All the animals here are rescued or orphaned and are completely taken care of by the inmates of the correctional facility.
The Sheriff’s animal farm contains a variety of rescued animals including a sloth, rabbits, alligator, tortoise, snakes, llama, ferret, pigs, and horses.
Kids get to pet some of the animals and the entry is completely free.
The Animal Farm is open only on 2nd and 4th Sunday every month, so we recommend checking the timing before you go.
This off the radar attraction is one of our top things to do in Key West for kids.
See the sculptures at Memorial Sculpture Garden
Another under the radar attraction, the Memorial Sculpture Garden is located at the entrance of Mallory Square and is full of Key West history.
It has beautiful sculptures of Key West’s notable persons and narrates their contribution towards the development of the city.
We love this free thing to do in Key West with kids as it allows them to run about and relax.
There are also a lot of chickens in the trees which kids find amusing.
Also compared to its location in Mallory Square, it is always quiet and has no crowds.
Visit the Key West Cemetery
The historic Key West cemetery is worth checking out with older kids or with kids who love history.
Just like the above-ground cemeteries of New Orleans, the Key West cemetery is raised to protect the dead from hurricane damages, floods, and to increase space.
There are graves dating back to the 19th century in the cemetery and many of them are now weathered and illegible.
The cemetery has many special areas dedicated to Cuban freedom fighters, Confederate sailors, and soldiers aboard the Battleship Maine which was blown up in Havana during the Spanish-American War.
Visit the Basilica Of Saint Mary Star Of The Sea
Built in 1904, the Basilica in Key West is beautiful and definitely worth a visit for families.
The basilica has an interesting history.
According to the legends, as long as the Our Lady of Lourdes grotto stands, it will protect the city of Key West from the full brunt of a hurricane.
Guests are welcome for Sunday Mass; Ernest Hemingway is also said to have attended mass here.
The church is warm and inviting with striking architecture, intricate detailing, and beautiful French doors.
The church also has a rosary path and graves of 18 nurses and clergy who served the parish.
The outdoor garden is also beautiful and a tranquil place to spend some time.
Watch a turtle race on the docks
Did you know that Turtle Kraals holds turtle races in the evening on some days?
The restaurant is located in a former Turtle cannery and apart from the races, is great for fresh seafood, drinks, and to catch a game on TV.
Kids of all ages love watching the turtles race against each other.
Update: The restaurant is now closed.
There are many kid friendly things to do in Key West, Florida.
From beaches and boats to museums and shopping, there are plenty of attractions to explore when you’re in town with the kids.
We hope you liked our list of best things to do in Key West with kids.
Did we miss any family friendly attractions in Key West? Let us know in the comments.
More Southern Florida Travel Guides
Here are additional resources to help you plan your Key West family trip: