With its swaying palm trees, year-round warm temps, azure blue water, and cloudless skies, Key West is the perfect tropical escape within the U.S. While you can opt to fly directly to the southernmost tip of the picturesque Keys, the drive from Miami International Airport is a little over three hours long and will take you on one of the most beautiful stretches of highway in the U.S. Here are six things you’ll want to see and do with kids in Key West.
Mingle with the Butterflies
Over fifty species of butterflies soar around this gorgeous tropical Key West Butterfly and Nature Conservatory. Gently flowing waterfalls, flowers galore, serene pink flamingos, and the many colorful butterflies make this one of the most magical spots for little ones in Key West. keywestbutterfly.com; 1316 Duval St.
The original most interesting man in the world, Ernest Hemingway, lived here from 1931-39, writing “The Snows of Kilimanjaro” as well as To Have And Have Not in his writing studio. Your kids will enjoy meeting the many adorable and sassy six- and seven-toed cats—all descendants of Hemingway’s pets—that wander throughout the house and grounds. Be sure to check out the Key West Lighthouse, located just across the street. hemingwayhome.com; 907 Whitehead St.
Tour Key West by Jet Ski
There’s no better way to explore the Florida Keys than on a jet ski! Though you have to be 18 to drive solo, kids as young as 14 can pilot a Waverunner as long as a parent is on board, and younger children can ride as passengers. As you cruise around the island on a 2-hour guided jet ski tour, you’re sure to spot local wildlife, as well as take in breathtaking views of various points of interest. barefootbillys.com
Key Lime Pie and Roosters
While Mom and Dad soak in the live reggae and cocktails, the kids can dine on Key Lime Pie and watch roosters strut around the glorious Blue Heaven. This is one of the best spots to dine al fresco with kids in the Keys. blueheavenkw.com; 729 Thomas St.
Swim. Relax. Catch Some Rays. Repeat.
The Florida Keys are all about relaxation, so make this the focus of your vacation. Sip sweet tea poolside, build sandcastles on the beach, and dive into the crystal clear water. Several area beaches cater to families.
Catch the Sunset
Every evening, about two hours before sunset, a crowd gathers at the Mallory Square Dock to catch the show in the sky while enjoying lively street music, dance performances, craft sellers, food stands, and sidewalk entertainment. It’s the perfect way to celebrate the winding down of another gorgeous day in the Keys.
Bonus: Where to Stay
If you can splurge, the historic Waldorf Astoria Casa Marina offers both Great Gatsby-era glamour and kid-friendly touches, including a hammock-filled beach and separate adult-only and family-friendly pools. The boutique, budget-friendlier 24 North Hotel features an ultra family-friendly pool, a fab poolside cafe/cocktail bar, and easy parking.