You possibly can spend months exploring the Florida Keys, testing the smaller islands, discovering the household points of interest and simply revelling in that laid-back ambiance – however should you don’t have fairly that lengthy, you’ll be able to nonetheless pack so much right into a six-day Florida Keys itinerary with youngsters.
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Working for 113 miles, the Abroad Freeway is the one main highway via the Keys so it additionally makes for a straightforward Florida highway journey for households, following the route from the Higher Keys to the Decrease Keys, earlier than heading again north once more.
Our personal journey fitted into round every week, together with flight time, basing ourselves in Key Largo, Key West and Marathon however you’ll be able to go slower should you’ve received time to spare, with loads of tempting detours to construct in over greater than 800 keys, or you’ll be able to reduce a number of the actions from this Florida itinerary for teenagers to cram all the things into a brief break.
No matter you select, it’s a terrific place to discover with youngsters – a number of household points of interest, some improbable boat journeys, seashores to chill out on, excursions to take, historical past to find and a welcoming laid-back vibe (learn on for recommendations on when to plan your Florida Keys journey to keep away from the crowds).
Day 1 – Miami to Key Largo
For most individuals your journey will begin in Miami (or probably Fort Lauderdale) except you’re driving the entire technique to the Florida Keys.
Though there may be an airport in Key West, it’s a straightforward drive from Miami to the Higher Keys and also you get the expertise of driving all the way in which down the Abroad Freeway, together with the fantastic Seven Mile Bridge in a while on this Florida Keys highway journey itinerary.
With these sweeping bridges taking you from key to key, as you take in the views of the ocean on the way in which, the journey may be very undoubtedly a part of the journey right here.
If in case you have time to spare, it’s nicely value setting apart a number of days to find the very best of Miami with youngsters as nicely, or you would construct in a detour to the Everglades, however in any other case it’s round an hour from Miami airport to Key Largo – preferrred in case your flight arrives late and also you don’t desire a lengthy journey forward
What to do in Key Largo
Preserve day 1 easy, particularly should you’re factoring in a protracted drive or jetlag – relax at your resort or head to the seashore.
Harry Harris Seaside and Park on Tavernier is round a 15-20 minute drive from Key Largo, and it’s nice with youthful youngsters. A jetty protects the smooth sand seashore from the strongest currents, so the water is calmer and there are many amenities for households.
The place to remain in Key Largo
We stayed at Reefhouse Resort & Marina (the previous Key Largo Bay Marriott Seaside Resort) with its personal personal seashore, pool and wonderful spacious rooms searching to the ocean.
There are boat journeys from the on-site marina and a dive store if you wish to get going immediately, or the property has two bars and Gus’ Grille all-day eating with its outside lined patio if you wish to chill out with one thing to eat.
There are cookies for teenagers at reception while you check-in (and for grown-ups should you ask properly!) plus loads of parking.
Try the present charges on reserving.com
The place to eat in Key Largo
Don’t miss a go to to The Fish Home which specialises in native seafood, together with yellowtail snapper, mahi mahi, grouper, Florida lobster and stone crab.
I cherished the specialty matecumbe sauce and there are easy choices for teenagers too – it’s all very relaxed too so nice for households.
Day 2 – Islamorada
Head a bit of additional south for day 2 to find Islamorada – you would additionally make this your first cease from Miami in its place important base within the Higher Keys to begin your Florida Keys itinerary with youngsters.
Try a number of the resorts in Islamorada for households right here
Because it’s barely farther from Miami airport, we selected the shorter drive – it’s simply over half an hour from Key Largo to Islamorada so it additionally breaks up the time within the automotive with youthful youngsters – after which headed again to Reefhouse Resort for the night.
What to do in Islamorada
There are many nice methods to fill a day on Islamorada with youngsters, should you don’t really feel like a lazy first morning.
Fancy some extra seashore time? One other contender for the title of most stunning seashore within the Florida Keys, Anne’s Seaside is good for households because the shallow water is ideal for teenagers, or you’ll be able to stroll alongside the boardwalk right here too.
Historical past of Diving Museum
Islamorada can also be dwelling to the Historical past of Diving Museum, dwelling to a real sixteenth century treasure chest!
The museum additionally shares the function South Florida and the Florida Keys have performed within the historical past of diving, when you can study all the things from free diving to what it takes to dive into the abyss!
Feed the tarpon at Robbie’s Marina
Head to Robbie’s Marina, with a string of stalls to select up souvenirs, a number of boat journeys, tarpon feeding and loads of locations to eat. In case you’re feeding the tarpon, maintain a watch out for the pelicans who swoop in to steal the fish – these payments pack fairly a peck.
We stayed a protected distance away at Robbie’s of Islamorada for lunch, with a inexperienced iguana absorbing the solar close to our desk – there’s loads of child-friendly dishes on the menu, in addition to nice fish and seafood. They’ll even cook dinner your catch should you’ve been out fishing.
Take a snorkeling journey
Within the afternoon, head out on a snorkel tour with Sundance Watersports stopping at a few totally different reefs – these can embrace Alligator Reef, Cheeca Rocks, or Hens and Chickens Reef relying on the situations on the day.
Whichever reefs you do go to, the tour sticks to the shallower ones, round 7-17ft deep so even novices will get a terrific view of the fish – you may even be fortunate sufficient to identify a turtle (though maintain a watch out for the moon jellyfish that they snack on).
Snorkel gear is included though you’ll be able to deliver your personal – in case your youngsters have the one-piece full-face masks and snorkel, they gained’t have the ability to use them although, and can want the normal two piece set
There are different boat excursions leaving from the northern finish of the important thing should you’re in search of various snorkeling excursions in Islamorada
Day 3 – Summerland Key & Key West
Head additional south to the Decrease Keys, crossing Seven Mile Bridge on the way in which – your eventual vacation spot is Key West, round two hours from Key Largo and Islamorada, stopping on the way in which at Summerland Key.
What to do at Summerland Key
We timed our go to for one of many public excursions of Mote Marine Laboratory’s Elizabeth Moore Worldwide Middle for Coral Reef Restoration, which occur on Tuesdays at 10am (at 24244 Abroad Hwy).
If this doesn’t match together with your itinerary, you may also go to Mote’s different places in Key Largo and Islamorada which have excursions on different days. Excursions have restricted numbers and have to be prebooked.
Higher with older youngsters than toddlers, it’s fascinating to see the work their scientists are doing to assist revitalise the reefs – the tour takes you inside their labs to be taught extra about why crabs are serving to their work, the illnesses affecting the corals and the way Mote is even serving to the corals reproduce.
It’s all made very accessible for the general public, and even my 11-year-old might observe the tour’s info, so in case your youngsters love nature or are considering sustainability and conservation, it’s unmissable – and a reminder that the gorgeous Florida Keys Nationwide Marine Sanctuary, with its reefs, sea grass meadows and mangrove forests, wants our assist.
What to do in Key West
There are such a lot of enjoyable issues to do in Key West with youngsters, that you just gained’t wrestle to fill your time right here – we had round 48 hours however might very fortunately have spent longer.
There’s extra time on Day 4 of my Florida Keys itinerary with youngsters so that you don’t need to pack all of it right into a single afternoon!
Begin off with a Key West guided tour to get your bearings – we cherished the Conch Tour Practice to search out out extra in regards to the historical past of Key West.
Stopping a number of instances on the way in which, the route passes a few of Key West’s most well-known sights, together with the Southernmost Level buoy (the southernmost level of the continental United States searching to the Atlantic Ocean) and Mile Marker 0, combined with quirky tales like how the Southernmost Southernmost Home received its title.
There’s additionally the Key West Previous City Trolley Excursions, which journey a bit of additional afield, stopping at a number of the resorts farther from the Previous City.
You possibly can spend the remainder of the afternoon wandering round Mallory Sq. and Duval Avenue, or heading right down to the harbor. There are additionally a number of seashores round Key West, together with Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park, plus Higgs Seaside and Smathers Seaside.
There’s additionally a splash pad on the Truman Waterfront park, which is nice enjoyable for toddlers and younger youngsters.
Or take a look at a number of the household points of interest in Key West, together with the fascinating Mel Fisher Maritime Museum, telling the story of his treasure looking adventures.
There’s additionally the Shipwreck Treasure Museum, the Key West Aquarium, the Ernest Hemingway Residence, Harry Truman’s Little White Home, the Key West Butterfly and Nature Conservatory and nice views from the Key West Lighthouse, to call a number of others.
For my choose of the very best issues to do in Key West with youngsters, take a look at this put up for the whole checklist
End the day with a sundown cruise – there are a number of to select from though we cherished the Sundown Sail from Sebago Key West with a sunset-themed soundtrack and open bar because the sky turned gold.
Want to remain on dry land? Head to Mallory Sq. for the Sundown Celebration, with road performers (often a bit risque), road meals, and stalls promoting tempting arts, crafts and souvenirs that pop up for the night.
The place to remain in Key West
We checked in to Opal Key Resort – the sister resort to Reefhouse Resort in Key Largo – for our two nights in Key West.
Beforehand Margaritaville Key West Resort & Marina, a number of its spacious ethereal rooms overlook the marina or the improbable pool with its poolside bar, plus you’ll be able to breakfast overlooking the water.
Downtown Key West is true on the doorstep too, so we couldn’t have had a greater location, plus the cool blue-green tones of the rooms handle to really feel luxurious whereas nonetheless being family-friendly.
Try the most recent charges for Opal Key Resort on reserving.com
The place to eat in Key West
You gained’t wrestle to search out locations to eat in Key West with youngsters – there are some nice household pleasant eating places, to not point out loads of locations to seize an ice cream.
For someplace actually memorable, head over to Blue Heaven in Bahama Village with its outside tables underneath the timber, stay music, and Floridian-Caribbean menu.
Hemingway as soon as refereed boxing matches right here, though it’s calmer nowadays! Well-known for its breakfasts (though go early), there are restricted reservations for dinner that are nicely value doing – the Key Lime pie to complete was the scale of my head.
We additionally had some wonderful pizza at Clemente’s Wooden-Fired pizza on Fleming Avenue, which was nice for sharing in case your youngsters gained’t handle an entire one every.
There are additionally loads of locations to seize a fast meal together with fish, sandwiches, tacos and burgers, like Two Buddies Patio restaurant on Entrance Avenue.
Or Cuban Espresso Queen has nice smoothies and breakfasts in addition to Cuban sandwiches.
Day 4 – Key West
With a full day in Key West, you’ll be able to tick off extra of the family-friendly points of interest and actions that you just didn’t handle to squeeze in to day 3.
What to do in Key West
There’s no driving to do in the present day (except you need to) so you’ll be able to benefit from Key West being so walkable and take a look at extra of its household points of interest – or head a bit of farther from Previous City Key West should you’ve ticked off plenty of your checklist the day earlier than.
Fort Zachary Taylor State Park
You possibly can fortunately spend the morning at Fort Zachary Taylor State Park, for instance, testing the historic web site earlier than hitting the seashore.
Take a kayaking journey
Round 20 minutes from Key West, there’s a two-hour tour of the mangroves from Geiger Key, close to Boca Chica Key.
This Key West Kayak eco-tour is led by a information specialising within the space’s nature – you would spot dolphins, rays and turtles, in addition to iguanas, birds and different native wildlife, whereas studying in regards to the space’s seagrass beds and mangrove forests.
Go dolphin-spotting and snorkeling
You possibly can simply slot in one other boat journey too, together with the possibility to identify dolphins in addition to snorkeling close to Key West.
One of many stand-out operators is Trustworthy Eco, which makes use of Key West’s first electric-powered constitution boat, Squid, charged by photo voltaic panels, together with a four-hour dolphin watch and snorkel journey.
In case you’re in search of extra sustainable tourism experiences, the brand new Florida Keys Eco-Expertise Path Cross highlights a number of the eco-friendly choices within the Keys, in addition to letting you guide direct
Day journey from Key West
For an added journey, the gorgeous Dry Tortugas Nationwide Park is round 70 miles from Key West – you have to journey by boat or seaplane to this archipelago of seven small islands, the place the coral reef and shipwrecks of the nationwide park are excellent for snorkeling and diving within the turquoise waters.
Seaplane Seaside, North Swim Seaside and South Swim Seaside are a number of the greatest seashores. This one is greatest for households with teenagers and older youngsters, because it takes some effort to achieve and there’s restricted amenities when you arrive.
The Yankee Freedom Ferry is the official park ferry, together with entrance payment to the Nationwide Park and Fort Jefferson, or should you’ve received the price range, the seaplane to the Dry Tortugas has half-day and full day constitution choices.
Day 5 – Key West to Marathon
Time to begin heading again north in the present day from Key West to the Center Keys and Marathon – relying what you like, you’ll be able to spend a part of the morning in Key West or slot in a cease on the way in which, however the large exercise in the present day is a go to to the Turtle Hospital in Marathon.
Excursions there run each half-hour till 4pm (and you have to arrive quarter-hour upfront) so plan your day accordingly. It’s round one hour from Key West to Marathon.
What to do – Key West to Marathon
Nonetheless received some issues to do in Key West to tick off? There’s time to suit some extra earlier than you set off, or strive these concepts for the place to interrupt the journey to Marathon.
Bahia Honda State Park
Cease off at Bahia Honda State Park with its palm-lined seashores in your route north. The small island is simply after Huge Pine Key earlier than you attain Seven Mile Bridge heading north, and it’s a stunning place to spend a number of hours.
There are some attractive white sand seashores – award-winning Calusa Seaside is particularly attractive – plus there’s snorkeling, seashore combing, in addition to kayaks and paddleboards to hire. It’s round a 15-minute drive from the Turtle Hospital.
Kayaking at Sugarloaf Key
Cease at Sugarloaf Key as an alternative for a kayaking journey with Get Up and Go Kayaking via the mangroves and waterways of the Florida Keys backcountry.
The corporate makes use of clear kayaks so that you’ll get a novel view of the marine life as you paddle.
Marathon Turtle Hospital
Considered one of my daughter’s favorite issues to do in the entire Florida Keys highway journey was a go to to the Marathon Turtle Hospital. The hour-long excursions begin with an training section – and if that sounds dry and boring, assume once more – protecting the threats to sea turtles, the analysis being carried out on the Turtle Hospital and the way they work to guard them.
There’s an opportunity to see contained in the working theatre (with vets finishing up procedures on a number of the turtles throughout our go to) after which to satisfy a number of the everlasting and short-term inhabitants who’ve been rescued and are recovering right here.
Together with loggerhead, inexperienced, hawksbill and Kemp’s Ridley turtles, all of them get particular person names thought up by their rescuers – Tater and Tot have been two examples together with Grumpy and Sneezy throughout our go to (Snow White had already been returned to the ocean!)
The hospital itself grew out of a resort with a sideline in rescuing turtles; after a hurricane meant the proprietor might select both to restart the lodging facet or focus solely on treating diseased and injured turtles, he selected the latter.
The hospital is now believed to be the world’s solely state-licensed veterinary hospital devoted solely to the therapy of sea turtles, the place attainable returning them to the wild.
The place to remain in Marathon
Tranquility Bay Resort could be a terrific alternative even should you weren’t planning to go to the Turtle Hospital – set proper subsequent door, the lodging consists of seashore homes with 2-3 bedrooms (nice should you’ve received a bigger household or are travelling with grandparents) in addition to the tropical backyard rooms.
Set proper on the seashore, there are water sports activities, plus a number of swimming pools together with one giant one on the centre of the resort. Decor is traditional Florida seashore, a number of blues and white rocking chairs on the balcony or verandah, some searching via the palm timber to the Gulf of Mexico.
The proper place to unwind (should you haven’t already) on the finish of the journey. You should purchase breakfast within the foyer (or there are a number of locations close by to select up one thing to go), plus it has its personal nice restaurant for dinner, Butterfly cafe (learn on for extra particulars about that).
Try the most recent charges for Tranquility Bay Resort on reserving.com
The place to eat – Key West to Marathon
In case you’re heading to Sugarloaf Key for the kayaking, not distant on Summerland Key, Mangrove Mama’s is a neighborhood favorite, identified for seafood and steak plus sides like honey corn bread.
Or on Little Torch Key, Kiki’s Sandbar & Grill is one other native favorite and a terrific easygoing beachfront spot serving fish and seafood, together with blackened shrimp tacos and griller snapper filet sandwich. It’s not removed from Nationwide Key Deer Refuge as nicely when you’ve got time for a brief detour!
In case you’re staying at Tranquility Bay Resort, or close by, don’t miss dinner at Butterfly Cafe – regardless of the title, that is way more trendy restaurant than cafe, with some scrumptious dishes for your complete household and really welcoming to youngsters. Considered one of my favorite locations that we ate on our Florida Keys itinerary.
Day 6 – Marathon/Key Largo to Miami
In case you’re planning a six-day journey as we did, in the present day sadly marks the ultimate day of your Florida Keys itinerary with youngsters – however there’s nonetheless time to slot in one (or two) last actions earlier than heading north to Miami, together with John Pennekamp State Park.
Our personal flight again was late at evening, which meant we had just about all day to discover so relying when your aircraft leaves (should you’re flying dwelling), simply issue within the drive – round two hours from Marathon, or round an hour from Key Largo.
What to do in Marathon
Go to Florida Keys Aquarium Encounters earlier than you allow Marathon – an aquarium with a variations as there’s an opportunity to get into the water with a number of the creatures dwelling right here.
We went for a Stingray Expertise which was one other unforgettable spotlight of the journey – with wetsuit, masks and snorkel on, we sat within the pool with the rays, studying the stingray shuffle (to keep away from unintentionally stepping on any of them) and discovering out extra in regards to the Southern Rays and Cownose Rays within the tank.
Then having been enthusiastically checked out by a number of the curious rays (together with Pancake, who couldn’t get sufficient of blowing bubbles onto me), there’s an opportunity to feed them and to drift within the tank, watching them swim.
Employees have been nice with my initially nervous daughter, who was so wowed by the expertise (in addition to the turtle hospital and coral analysis lab tour) that she’s now setting her sights on a profession as a marine biologist.
All have had their barbs eliminated for safely and – like different experiences, such because the coral reef snorkeling – are appropriate for teenagers. There’s additionally the nursery encounter should you don’t need to get moist, interacting with child stingrays, plus the Huge Shark Bay encounter the place you’ll be able to safely work together with nurse sharks.
Even should you don’t fancy reserving one of many encounters, there’s tons to entertain the entire household right here. A lot larger than the Key West Aquarium, it’s principally outside (though there’s some shade) with talks and feeding instances going down through the day.
We noticed nurse sharks being fed and checked, tortoises, terrapins and alligators, plus tropical fish galore together with an enormous grouper and a tidepool contact tank, which is all the time a success with youngsters. You possibly can select to feed a number of the creatures too – we purchased some meals for the lobsters.
In case you’re fortunate you may even spot a manatee swimming within the open water close by. We ended up spending 4 hours right here together with lunch and will fortunately have stayed longer!
What to do in Key Largo
There’s one other probability to get out on the water on the Key Largo Princess glass backside boat tour to discover the John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park and the Key Largo Nationwide Marine Sanctuary.
The 2-hour boat journey runs 3 times per day, at 10am, 1pm and 4pm, with seats exterior to benefit from the views or within the air-conditioned cabin.
When you arrive on the reef, there’s commentary that can assist you perceive what you’re seeing via the massive viewing home windows – in all, there’s 280 sq ft of glass to look via on the marine world underneath the waves.
When to plan your Florida Keys highway journey
It pays to time your break within the Florida Keys with youngsters so that you just get the very best of the climate and keep away from the crowds – as there’s famously one main highway via the Florida Keys, you don’t need to spend it caught in visitors on the Abroad Freeway!
For extra recommendations on planning a highway journey with youngsters, together with what to pack for a household highway journey, highway journey actions for teenagers and the greatest highway journey snacks, take a look at my posts
Whereas March to Could has a number of the greatest climate, Spring break wouldn’t be my first alternative for a household journey, particularly round Key West. December to February is cooler however you’ll be able to nonetheless count on temperatures within the mid 70s, which is ideal for exploring with youngsters.
Once we visited in late October/early November, it was heat, the climate was nonetheless typically excellent (though often a bit windy for boat journeys) and we weren’t combating the crowds so it’s one other good time to contemplate.
Hurricane season sees the worst tropical storms from mid-August to the beginning of October, so it’s greatest to keep away from these weeks should you can too, in addition to dodging the excessive temperatures and humidity of midsummer.
You too can test when main occasions are deliberate on the Florida Keys Tourism web site, in addition to checking when cruise ships are docked in Key West, as it will probably make a giant distinction if there’s a bigger ship in.
For concepts of extra issues to do in Key West with youngsters, take a look at my prime picks
Disclosure: This put up incorporates affiliate hyperlinks – any purchases you make are unaffected however I’ll obtain a small fee. My journey and most of the actions listed was organized by way of the vacationer board for the needs of assessment however all opinions stay my very own.
Essential picture/Seven mile bridge/Anne’s Seaside/pelican/turtle on a reef/Duval Avenue/kayaking/Dry Tortugas/Bahia Honda/deer/John Pennekamp park/sundown seashore courtesy of Depositphotos/Shutterstock, all different photos copyright MummyTravels