Traveling with family presents unique challenges. Small kids can be hard to occupy while teenagers don’t always want to do things with their parents.
And organizing a big family reunion with siblings, aunts, and uncles, cousins, and elderly parents can feel overwhelming because you’re trying to find something for everyone, and everyone doesn’t have the same interests.
That’s why a trip to Key West makes a great vacation: there’s something for everyone.
For the Outdoorsy Types
If your family is filled with adventure-seekers, start with a trip to Dry Tortugas National Park.
It’s about 70 miles off the coast of Key West and requires a short ferry ride to get there.
But once you’re there, it’s a natural wonderland above and below the sea. Novice and skilled snorkelers alike can explore coral reefs, shipwrecks, and old wooden pilings where sea life is abundant.
There are places on shore to picnic and swim. Or take a kayak around some of the smaller islands that make up the national park.
Make it a beach day on Key West. There are several small public beaches where you can relax and swim.
Local vendors sell food and drinks, and these beaches offer snorkeling, too. Take a short drive to the Key West Tropical Forest and Botanical Garden for a low-key outdoor experience.
This is the only botanical garden of its kind in the continental U.S., and here you can walk among specimen trees as well as flowers and shrubs native to the Keys before it was so highly developed.
It’s a great place to go birding, too. Bring a picnic lunch and make a day of it.
For the History Buffs
Ernest Hemingway is a legend in American literature and on Key West, as he was a resident here for some time.
Today, his family home is a museum. Tour the impeccably maintained gardens full of tropical flowers and flowering trees.
Indoors, much of the Hemingway family’s decor remains on display. The Hemingway house was also one of the first to have an in-ground pool, quite a technological feat at the time it was installed around 100 years ago.
President Harry S. Truman’s Little White House is also a popular destination among history buffs that’s now open to visitors.
You can also visit the Key West Lighthouse and Lighthouse Keeper’s Museum.
Climb all 88 steps to the top of the lighthouse to see how it feels to be a real lighthouse keeper, and see how they lived when lighthouse keepers were essential workers.
For a little fun, try a distillery tour. Distilleries were a big part of Key West’s history and now you can see for yourself how liquors like rum were produced.
For the Foodies
If Key West is known for nothing else, it’s famous for its seafood. A prime example as to why is Eaton Street Seafood Market.
With cases full of the day’s freshest catch, just walking through the door gives you a dizzying array of choices, from lobster to crab, snapper and more.
Menu items can be enjoyed on the shady patio for a relaxing meal. Try the fried conch strips basket, the lobster roll or the fish tacos.
If fish isn’t your family’s preference, try the pizza and gelato at Duetto’s, always a popular choice with locals and visitors alike.
For more foodie fun, book a food tour for all ages or for the adults, a Key West pub crawl.
For the Shoppers
In the heart of Key West, you’ll find Duval Street and Mallory Square. This is where shoppers find their heaven.
From art galleries to clothing boutiques, jewelry stores, souvenir shops, and more, strolling along Duval and through Mallory Square is the place to be.
Take a break from shopping at one of the many restaurants that dot the route. Wind up your shopping at the end of the day with the Sunset Celebration at Mallory Square.
It’s a great way to gather the family and wind down.
Beginning around two hours before sunset, food, drink, and craft vendors gather along with tourists and locals for a nightly party.
It’s a great way for younger family members to feel like they’re part of the fun while still getting them into bed at a reasonable hour while older family members can pre-game and then head out to dinner, visit a jazz club, or go have a drink.
Finding a vacation destination that works for everyone in a family can be a challenge.
But Key West is one of those great places that has enough for everyone to do, whether they’re kids or adults.
Choose your level of activity and plan your itinerary to match — from Dry Tortugas National Park to the botanical garden, distillery tours, Hemingway’s gardens, and city beaches, there’s truly a wealth of family fun to be had in Key West.