Here are our picks for the top 13 things to do in Key West for families! We had a great time exploring the wide variety of activities Key West had to offer.
1 – Get ON the Water – Water Sports
You should get ON the water while in Key West. This can be kayaking, boating, jet skiing, or paddle boarding. We chose kayaking. Read the review of our adventure here.
2 – Get IN the Water – Key West Beaches
You should really get IN the water while in Key West. There are many options. Including snorkeling and scuba diving. We chose to go to the beach and do a little skimboarding. There are not a lot of beaches on Key West. The most popular is Fort Zachary State Park and Beach. Note: There is a small cost to get to this beach.
We chose to go to Smathers Beach. The Northside of the beach was quiet, and the water was beautiful and shallow, which is great for families! On the Southside there was a beach rental station where you can rent chairs, umbrellas and water sports equipment. Other beach options include Rest Beach, South Beach and there is even a dog beach.
History of Key West Beaches
There is little natural sand in Key West. Key West is a very rocky island and the sand is imported from Miami or the Bahamas to make beaches. However, the water is clear and calm. It reminded us of a lake with little movement and no waves. The lack of waves is due to the barrier islands which make the amazing eco-environment for water sports.
The best beach in Key West is located at Fort Zachary State Park. However, it is also the most popular with lots of picnickers and beachgoers. The Goofy 5 decided to go to the very empty Smather’s Beach, which was located right across from our hotel, Hyatt Residence Club Key West, Windward Pointe. This is the longest beach in Key West at a half-mile long. The water was super warm at 88 degrees and so shallow! Living in Florida, it is a bit strange to have a beach with no waves, I did miss not hearing the ocean wave sound from our hotel room.
3 – Mallory Square
Mallory Square is located on the Northwest side of the island. It houses unique shops, museums, and the best sunset on the island. The square comes to life during sunset with street performers, pop-up shops, and amazing food. Unfortunately, we did not make it for a sunset, but we still had a great time shopping in the small souvenir shops in Mallory Square. And taking in this amazing view.
4 – Unique Dining
We ate at many amazing restaurants in Key West. Lobster was on most of the meals! We also had burritos and Cuban food. Hopefully, I will get full restaurant reviews up soon! But to wet your whistle, D.J.’s Clam Shack is a must.
5 – Southernmost Point
All tourists have to take a photo at the Southernmost Point in the continental United States!
7 – Mile Marker 0
Take a photo with the Mile Marker 0 at the end of US 1. The “end of the road”.
8 – See the Bridges into Key West
While not technically in the Key West. Unless you fly, you will have to drive these amazing construction wonders. Especially the Seven Mile Bridge. I held on tight in the car the whole time!
9 – Take a Trolly Ride
This is a great way to see the island, especially if you have young children, or do not have a car. Trolly rides are hop-on, hop-off, and a lot of fun.
10 – Tour Hemingway’s Home
Ernest Hemingway lived and wrote in this for ten years. During that time he wrote seventy percent of his life-time works. Today it is operated as a museum and provides guided tours every 15 minutes throughout the day.
11 – Explore and Look at the Unique Homes
The Goofy 5 love to drive through out-of-the-way places and also love to see large homes. If your family enjoys this as well, take a short drive off from the town of Key West in the community of Key Haven on Racoon Key. Key Haven is considered a suburb of Key West. Almost all the homes in this area have water access.
While many are older, there is also new construction. At the end of one of the streets, we saw the marvel on the upper right, under construction. And yes, that is a single home. We also found the MTV house located on Driftwood Drive.
12 – Fort Zachary State Park
It is always amazing to explore a fort that was completed in 1866. It was relatively empty and the views from the top were amazing! Even though this fort was constructed to protect the southernmost point of the US, it never fired a shot.
If you do not have time to make it to Dry Tortugas National Park, definitely spend time at this fort. But Dry Tortugas is a must-do if we make it back to Key West.
13 – Take a Photo of a Key West Chicken!
One of the unique aspects of Key West is that you will see special inhabitants walking throughout the streets. Roosters and chickens roam freely throughout the island. The history, per the locals, is that the roosters and chickens came over originally from Cuban settlers for food and cockfighting. As cockfighting was outlawed and nature took its course, more and more chickens showed up. Now they are some of the most sought-after pictures on the island.
We spent four days and three nights in Key West. The entire family agreed a few more days would have been amazing. We did a lot, but not everything we wanted to do (i.e. a trip to Dry Tortugas National Park is a must-do next time). I hope this gives you an idea of the varied things to do in Key West for families!