Picture the Caribbean: sparkling turquoise water, swaying palm trees and inviting white sand beaches. Now imagine you can drive your family there. That is the Florida Keys family trip in a nutshell. This Florida archipelago consists of approximately 1700 islands, 43 of which are connected by 42 bridges on the Overseas Highway. The southernmost point is a mere 150 kilometres to Cuba, approximately the same distance between the Upper Keys starting from Key Largo to Key West in the Lower Keys. And a mini road trip is the perfect way to do a Florida Keys family trip.

Florida Keys Family Trip: What To Do?

John Pennekamp Coral Reef Park near Key Largo is an excellent first stop in the Florida Keys with its 220 acres of protected land and ocean. Adventurous families can book a snorkeling boat tour to the reef to see the colourful fish and one of the most-photographed underwater statues–the eight-foot-tall Christ of the Abyss. Or take your cues from the basking iguanas on the beach and just hang out.

The Perfect Florida Keys Family Trip

Snorkeler Katherine Wieland examines Christ of the Deep statue in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary off Key Largo, Fla. This nine-foot-tall, 4,000 pound replica of a similar statue, located in the waters off the coast of Italy, is submerged in 25 feet of water at Key Largo Dry Rocks. Photo by Stephen Frink/Florida Keys News Bureau

Turtle lovers (and what kid isn’t?) won’t want to miss the Turtle Hospital in Marathon. This one-of-a-kind rescue facility rescues, rehabilitates and releases sea turtles back into the wild, and offers daily educational programming for visitors.

Once you hit Key West, family activity options multiply. Younger children will especially love the Key West Aquarium and the Butterfly and Nature Conservatory. For an extra-special nature encounter, book the Flamingale experience, which lets kids get up close and personal with the graceful pink flamingos (limited to six guests per day, so reserve early).


Old Town Trolley tours is a family-friendly and stress-free way to navigate and learn about this historic town. We recommend the Conch Tour Train for younger kids and the Ghosts and Gravestones for teens and tweens. Bike rentals are another popular option to explore this seaside town with its candy-coloured buildings. Of course, you can always succumb to the island’s laid-back vibe and just spend another lazy day at the beach. Bahia Honda State Park is an excellent choice with its long white sand beaches on both the ocean and gulf side. Whatever you decide to do during the day, plan to be at Mallory Square Dock for sunset. Street performers, food vendors and artists are all openers for the grand finale performance –the celebrated Key West sunset!

Where To Stay For A Florida Keys Family Trip   

Hawks Cay ResortDuck Key is a destination itself with activities for all ages. Young ones will love the pirate-themed splash pad and supervised kids club with crafts and activities. Teens have a club of their own, not to mention a game room and a slew of sports and water activities.  The 60-acre property has 177 guestrooms and 250 two- and three-bedroom villas, 6 restaurants, saltwater lagoon, 5 swimming pools and spa.

 

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Ocean Pointe Suites, Key Largo–All of the 170 units at the resort are suites, and some include laundry and full kitchens, easily accommodating larger families and multi-generational trips. The resort itself is expansive and secluded with 60 acres of oceanfront property. A definite highlight is its newly renovated Junior Olympic-size pool that includes a 12-person Jacuzzi hot tub.

Family-Friendly Dining In The Florida Keys  

Sundowners in Key Largo has a large patio overlooking the water, delicious seafood and a front row seat to a Florida Keys sunset. But the best part for kids? Feeding the fish down at the docks. Our kids still talk about the big fish (a tarpon) that came to the surface and the pelican who stole its food. Or maybe your kids would prefer to feed chickens? Blue Heaven in Key West is an extremely popular brunch spot with colourful gardens, quirky decor and resident chickens and cats to entertain the kids while you partake in their island-inspired food.

Cuban Coffee Queen serves up stellar Cuban sandwiches and rich coffee in three different locations and Amigos Tortilla Bar is a family classic with Mexican staples that kids love.

And any family vacation to the Florida Keys is not complete until you’ve had some key lime pie. Might we be so bold as to suggest the chocolate-covered key lime pie on a stick at Kermit’s Key West Key Lime Shoppe.

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Writer Jennifer Merrick

Jennifer Merrick is an award winning, Toronto-based freelance travel writer, ESL teacher and mom of two teens who has been writing about family travel since 2008. Her stories have appeared in 30+ print and online outlets, including Today’s Parent, travelingmom.com and Montreal Families. You can follow her on Instagram @JenniferMerrick3.

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