Traveling with your family can be really stressful, especially when your children become teenagers and naturally seek opportunities to do things separate from the family and when your family includes older folks like grandparents. Key West is unique in that it offers something for everyone to do, whether that’s a low-key walk through a nature site or a high-intensity bike ride around the island. Here are some ideas to make your family vacation in Key West fun for all.
Take an Unconventional Tour
See Key West in the way that best suits your family. Break out of the typical touristy activities with a self-guided tour of Key West. Book a bike, kayak, paddleboard, or even a Jeep rental for an at-your-own-pace exploration of the sun, sand, and backroads of this island. You can also buy an inflatable kayak that you can bring with you anywhere. Adventure tour companies take care of every detail and amenity so all you need to do is show up and take off for the day.
Step into Military History
For more than 50 years, U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Ingham patrolled the seas in advance of America’s interests and now, it’s a maritime museum in Key West. Stand on the deck, see the control room, and imagine being out to sea on this veritable time capsule. Memorabilia includes authentic uniforms, tools, sailors’ berths, and more.
Visit “Key West’s Best Beach”
At Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park, guests can tour the pre-Civil War era fort, swim the rocky beach or go kayaking and snorkeling. Don’t miss the rooftop access at the fort for amazing panoramic views. Much of the fort, including walking trails, is wheelchair accessible; if needed, free wheelchairs are available to borrow. Try fishing off the jetty, taking a bike ride on the trails, or just relaxing with a cool drink and light snack from the Cayo Hueso Cafe.
Get the Best Lobster Roll
You’ll marvel at all the freshly caught seafood that fills the cases at Eaton Street Seafood Market and Restaurant in Old Town Key West. This family-run business sells fresh fish and shellfish as well as a full menu of seafood favorites for takeout, including the famous lobster roll. And what’s even better is when you want to recreate your Key West vacation at home, you can have seafood delivered right to your door with online ordering. Don’t miss the fish tacos, grilled mahi-mahi, and crab cake sandwiches. All sauces are made on-site and complement the menu perfectly.
Tour the Home of an American Legend
The Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum have exquisite gardens and grounds surrounding a charmingly restored home that to this day features many family heirlooms, including furniture and housewares plus photographs and even one of Hemingway’s typewriters. Though he lived in Key West for only ten years, this American literary legend left a long-lasting impression. Descendants of Hemingway’s own 6-toed cats still have free reign over the property, and you’re likely to see them basking in the sun or napping around the house.
Book a Fishing Charter
Whether you’ve fished your whole life or never even picked up a fishing pole before, you’ll be welcome on one of Key West’s many fishing charter boats. Trust experienced captains and crew to provide advice that ensures everyone has a good time. The fishing charter company takes care of all the details, like permits and gear, while you only need to pack a cooler lunch and your sunblock. Depending on the time of year, you can go out for tarpon, snapper, grouper, and mahi mahi.
See Culinary Magic Happen Before Your Eyes
Book the Tapas Theater Kitchen table at the sophisticated Tavern N Town located in the Marriott Beachside Hotel in Key West. Get a front-row view of meals like tuna poke and shrimp fritters being prepared by expert hands while enjoying the warm ambiance and luxury feel of this family-friendly restaurant.
Paddle Through a Mangrove
Mangrove tours by kayak offer visitors the chance to see these majestic and curious trees up close. Glide along smoothly on shallow waters and learn about the geological and ecological history of Key West. This is your chance to see fish, crabs, birds, and small animals up close so be sure to pack binoculars and a camera.
Climb a Lighthouse
At the Key West Lighthouse and Keeper’s Museum, anyone who feels up to the challenge can climb the 88 steps of the Key West Lighthouse, built more than 150 years ago and decommissioned in 1969. Take panoramic photos from the observation platform and then explore the exhibits and artifacts displayed by the museum. See what life was like for lighthouse keepers, some of Key West’s first essential workers, who were responsible for preventing the shipwrecks that lost life and cargo at sea.
Key West is a great vacation destination for families traveling with teens and older family members. It offers an array of experiences from slow and soothing to intense and exciting. The abundance of restaurants allows families to split up during the day and reconvene at dinner to share stories and make vacation memories to last a lifetime.