Is Key West family friendly? Ironically, we didn’t do any searching before heading down the 7-mile bridge to the very end. When we started our journey we knew we would be visiting Key West with kids.
Our goal with our travels is to introduce our children to different experiences they wouldn’t necessarily get if we were stationary.
The same goes for Key West even though most people we talk to tell us it isn’t the most family-friendly destination.
If we were taking a vacation I might not choose Key West.
But our initial question… is Key West family friendly? Yes, I think it is. You just have to be mindful of what is going on in town when you go.
Our Experience Visiting Key West With Kids
Things To Do in Key West
So let’s dive into what we did while we were there and I’ll give you a few honorable mentions.
Florida Coral Reef Snorkeling
If you have a chance to snorkel the only coral reef in the US you should take it. It was phenomenal. The opportunity to see all of the coral and tropical fish first hand felt like a dream.
You can’t get to the reef by swimming… you have to take a tour, rent a boat or charter a private boat with a captain.
John Pennekamp State Park
We took a snorkeling tour out of John Pennekamp State Park in Key Largo. It was absolutely fantastic and if you want to see the Christ of the Abyss then you will need to go out here.
The tour at John Pennenkamp goes out 6 different times throughout the day. You can find more information here.
Pricing (2 1/2 hours):
- Adults $29.95
- Children $24.95
The only downside to this tour is the number of people allowed on the boat. They pack it as full as the Coast Guard will allow them. So when you get out there you are surrounded by others in the water.
At one point I was snorkeling watching around me at all times to ensure I wasn’t encroaching on anyone and a woman came swimming through my space and kicked me in the face.
Not my favorite thing to happen in the water and thankfully I didn’t lose my mask or snorkel but not everyone is going to watch for you in the water.
Rent a Private Charter
We decided once we got to Key West that to experience the reef in true form would be to get out there alone.
After serious consideration, we decided not to rent a boat, we didn’t want to deal with anything happening so we opted for someone else to take us out.
We headed down to Cow Key Marina and chartered a boat through Pirate Kings. The captain’s name was Chris and he was fantastic.
We spent 6 hours on the reef snorkeling, swimming, flying our drone and just enjoying time off of the island.
This is the way to experience the coral reef. This method of exploring is obviously way more expensive but it was worth it.
Visit Ft. Zachary State Park
This state park has a small rocky beach that you can swim at as well as the actual Fort to explore as well as fishing.
You can rent chairs and umbrellas if you don’t take your own but be warned they aren’t cheap.
Walk Duval St & Visit Mallory Square
We aren’t huge tourist trap fans but we do enjoy history. So we headed out to eat dinner one evening and walked around downtown when we were done.
This town is definitely an interesting one and I would love to go back without my children sometime.
While visiting Key West with kids is great from time to time we like to take in some nightlife too.
Visit the Galleries
I am not usually a big art shopper but I can’t help but dream right? We found 2 galleries that were fantastic with artists we would love to buy from in the future.
You won’t be disappointed when you head into these places! If you happen to find something you like they will even ship it to you.
- Ernest Hemingway House
- Visit the Museums
- Butterfly Nature Conservatory
- Dry Tortugas
We weren’t able to make it to any of the museums, Ernest Hemingway’s House or Dry Tortugas. The Dry Tortugas tours were all booked into July and that wasn’t going to be possible. So we will try to do that another time.
Visiting Key West with kids will limit your activities. We prefer to head out to the beaches for free time and the entire island is coral so trying to find a nice beach was rather difficult. We also went during a time of nasty smelly seagrass so that also ruined our beach time.
Places to Eat in Key West
When it comes to eating in Key West we weren’t disappointed very often.
We ate at a variety of restaurants and these were our favorites.
Some of these bills may be far more than you would spend somewhere else but you can’t beat buying local when you go to places like this.
Businesses down in Key West find it hard to operate due to the cost of operating in that area. We are from a tourist town so we always try to support local small businesses.
Pepe’s for Breakfast
I set out to find the best sit down breakfast joint that we could order short order type breakfast foods. Pepe’s is where you should go. If you want great coffee and delicious food you can’t make a bad choice with this joint.
What we ordered:
- French toast topped with fruit
- Loaded omelet
- A short stack of pancakes
- Side of fruit
- 2 orange juices
Our total was $55 after tax and tip.
Pepe’s is a must stop! I was really pleased with the food and service.
We were out to try some local donuts while we were here. While there was a Dunkin close to our campground we decided to eat local again. The donuts here were strange. They have 12 different kinds and 3 of them are your traditional choices.
I wasn’t actually a big fan of the fancier donuts here but their traditional glazed, cinnamon and chocolate iced were amazing. The dough alone is fantastic. Pair that with a nice coffee and you’re sure to walk out feeling pleased.
What we ordered:
- All 12 donuts + 2 medium coffees.
Our total was $32.
Try it out! You might become a fan of the fancier donuts.
This is a local historical place that Ernest Hemingway used to hang out at. You can’t go here and not order a sloppy joe. They also have more alcohol than you could imagine so order a drink while you’re at it.
This place also has live music along with nearly every other eatery in Key West.
What we ordered:
- 1 pizza
- 2 sloppy joes
- 1 order of onion rings
- 1 beer
- 3 non-alcoholic beverages
Our total was $60. This was definitely a great place to eat and we were happy when we left.
This taco truck was just up from our campground so it was hard not to visit this little joint.
They had fantastic tacos and if you are around Cross St & Suncrest Ave you should stop in and grab a taco.
Visiting Key West with kids was fun but we spent far too much time there.
We stayed at Leo’s Campground which is inland but it was affordable and the staff there were incredible.
Next time we go I think we will stay for 2-3 days then head back up to the middle keys.
So that’s it for this week’s travel guide. I hope if you guys are planning a trip to the keys you’ve found this to be helpful.