Welcome to my backyard--the Florida Keys! I'm a travel writer, blogger and photographer with a passion for all things Florida, especially the Florida Keys. These islands are so much more than Duval Street and Jimmy Buffet. They are rich in history, culture, cuisine, nature and events--all surrounded by pristine waters teeming with wildlife. Whether you're a local or a visitor, the Conch Republic has many surprises in store. Let me be your guide.
Key West has a well-earned reputation as an adult playground in the Florida Keys, but the Southernmost City is also full of family-friendly activities and restaurants. Now that summer approaches, check out these tips for traveling with children in Key West.
Before you go, check the calendar of events. You don’t want to unwittingly show up during Fantasy Fest when costumes can be minimal or Bike Week when Duval Street is full of thousands of roaring Harleys. Other events like the Seafood Festival with live music and children’s activities or Civil War Heritage Days with live battle re-enactments will be more fun for the entire family.
Avoid lower Duval Street. The end of Duval Street closest to Mallory Square is party-central with the highest concentration of popular bars like Sloppy Joe’s and Irish Kevin’s. The “It’s 5 o’clock somewhere” vacation mentality means that drinking starts early and ends late.
Get in touch with nature. Spend a day at the beach at Fort Zachary Taylor State Park. What kid wouldn’t enjoy exploring a real Civil War-era fort, snorkeling in the crystal clear waters and watching the boat traffic off shore? At the Butterfly Conservatory, youngsters will be in awe of the 800 fluttering butterflies, and at the Key West Aquarium, they’ll delight in sea creatures that they can touch and feed—including a shark.
Key Westhistory can be fun. At the Hemingway House, older children who have read the author’s works in school will enjoy hearing about his adventures, while younger children will be enamored by the 40-50 six-toed cats on the property. Across the street, all ages will love climbing the 88 steps to the top of the 1848 Key West Lighthouse to see the sweeping views of the island.
Visit these family-friendly restaurants. Mattheessen’s on White Street offers American faves like hamburgers, hot dogs and old-time BBQ. Their half-pound cookies and old-fashioned sundaes are sure to be a hit.For Cuban fare that won’t break the bank, head to El Siboney, or chow down on the local catch at Conch Republic Seafood Company where kids blend right into the bustling vibe of the open air restaurant.