Planning a family vacation involves more than just coming up with a list of what to pack. You want to pick a location that will make it easy to create lifelong memories with your kids. And the Florida Keys does just that. It has gorgeous beaches, tons of outdoor activities, delicious places to eat and a whole host of other family-friendly venues to explore. With a rich history, colorful culture, and some of the most amazing eco-adventures on the planet, your family will have a once in a lifetime experience vacationing in the Keys.
Did you know that Key West is located closer to Cuba than it is to Miami? Key West is Florida’s slice of heaven (it’s only about seven square miles) where history, culture, and a serious love of life all collide. From beach camping, snorkeling and dolphin encounters to pirate adventures and sunset celebrations, there are so many one-of-a-kind experiences in the Florida Keys that every day can be filled with epic memory-making moments with the kids.
Fun fact: The only living coral barrier reef in the continental U.S. is in the Florida Keys so if you want to go snorkeling and diving, it’s here.
The beaches may be spectacular, but visitors interested in literature can find both history and inspiration in Key West. Ernest Hemingway produced some of his finest work during his decade-long residence in the 907 Whitehead St. home that is now open for tours and Robert Frost first visited Key West in 1934 and wrote one of his best-known poems, “The Gift Outright,” on the island.
Download the Florida Keys app to help you choose places to stay and eat, events, driving tours, news, live webcams, and so much more. This is a huge lifesaver for any trip to the Keys.
The Lower Keys are situated facing the setting sun and they are home to some of the world’s most beautiful natural treasures like the Love Key coral reef, National Marine Sanctuary, and of course Big Pine where locals throw an annual underwater music festival to help maintain the beauty of marine life. Make sure to check out Stock Island where world-class fishing captains, hardworking Shrimpers, and local artists mingle in this vibrant community where you can celebrate the easy-going atmosphere at the annual ‘I Love Stock Island Festival’.
Fun fact: The Lower Keys is a quiet section of islands that connects Key West to Marathon. These islands encompass some of the best fishing in the country, owing to their relation to the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean.
The stunning beauty of the Keys are 126 miles long, giving families ample opportunity to get up close with nature by diving, fishing, and snorkeling. What kid doesn’t want to explore a real shipwreck? With so much rich marine life and beauty, It is no accident that some of the world’s most sought after marine photographers find themselves diving in the Keys.
Marathon is another family-friendly – and far less crowded – destination. Part of the Middle Keys, Marathon is 10 miles long, and is renowned for gorgeous white sandy beaches and crystal-clear waters, which are ideal for swimming, fishing, snorkeling, jet skiing, kayaking and sailing. Families can also feed stingrays at Aquarium Encounters, swim with dolphins at the Dolphin Research Center, view sea turtles at the Turtle Hospital and enjoy the great outdoors at Crane Point Hammock and Curry Hammock State Parks. Families who love to fish can pull in a great haul by fishing the reefs and wrecks for yellowtail, mangrove, and mutton snapper, along with grouper, mackerel, and barracuda and even tarpon. Check out more information here.
Hungry? There are plenty of dining options for foodies and families alike in Marathon. The Barracuda Grill has a wide variety of seafood and steaks, plus an extensive kid’s menu and Porky’s Bayside BBQ offers a relaxing atmosphere and outstanding BBQ that is smoked daily on the premises.
Calm bay waters, boat excursions, and a happy-go-lucky vibe make Islamorada’s six islands the ideal destination for a memorable family vacation. Islamorada is home to the Everglades National Park and The Windley Key Fossil Reef Geological State Park, which means that there are more natural treasures and wonder abound than any kids’ imagination could ever conjure. Parents will love the opportunities to experience a rich musical festival at the ICE Amphitheatre at the 40-acre Islamorada Founders Park that includes an Olympic sized pool.
Fun fact: Islamorada is known as the sport fishing capital of the world. With the Gulf Stream flowing a few miles off shore, visitors can try their hand at catching sailfish, marlin, kingfish, wahoo, and even tuna without having to travel far out to see.
Key Largo is considered the first of the Keys and is the northernmost within the chain of islands below the tip of Florida. With its amazingly blue waters, swaying palm trees, year-round warm temps and bright blue skies, Key Largo makes for the perfect tropical escape. Families will love visiting John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, Dagny Johnson Key Largo Hammock Botanical State Park and even an underwater park called the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary.
But that’s not all that’s underwater in Key Largo! Families can stay at an underwater hotel, or enjoy endless world-class snorkeling, reef diving (it is considered the diving capital of the world), and even see the Spiegel Grove shipwreck, which is a 510-foot tall US Naval ship that the Navy intentionally sank.
After all the diving, snorkeling, exploring and relaxing, a family can get pretty darn hungry. Luckily for visitors, the Florida Keys is the perfect place to try Indigenous Florida Keys dishes that highlights seafood in colorful and inspiring ways. Check out more information about the amazing fare (and where to find the best darn key lime pie) here.
The Florida Keys is the perfect kid-friendly, family vacation destination and has tons of amazing experiences to offer. With so much rich music and arts history that families can see up close. From theatre and fine arts to live music and cultural centers, there is no shortage of inspiration that families can soak up along with the bright subtropical sun. The dazzling ecological adventures, relaxing time in the sand and surf, and the once in a lifetime fishing and snorkeling opportunities are all sure to give your family the kinds of memories that will last for years to come.