La casa de ErnestInterior courtyardHemingway houseExterior - Little White HouseSunny Side of LifeThe museum... small but packed with wonders!Anne’s BeachFt. Jefferson National Park, a daytrip from Key West.

Families will love:

  • Turquoise blue water at every turn
  • A water baby's paradise
  • Key West's eccentric Mallory Square

For many folks -- SCUBA divers, anglers, water sports lovers, boaters and party people, in particular -- just south of Miami is where Florida really begins. It's hard not to exhale a sigh of relief when you leave the gridlock of the mainland metropolis behind and begin making your way across the scores of bridges that lead some 120 miles from Key Largo to Key West, the ... more
For many folks -- SCUBA divers, anglers, water sports lovers, boaters and party people, in particular -- just south of Miami is where Florida really begins. It's hard not to exhale a sigh of relief when you leave the gridlock of the mainland metropolis behind and begin making your way across the scores of bridges that lead some 120 miles from Key Largo to Key West, the southernmost point in the United States. With roadside attractions like shell shops and giant lobsters and mermaids to keep the kids entertained, the route through the Keys makes for an ideal family road trip, with watery views o'plenty and roadside kitsch by the boatload to keep backseat quarrels at bay during the roughly three hour ride from Miami to Key West. But don't plan on doing it all in one go if you don't have to -- nearly every mile marker (that's how the distance is ticked off in these parts) offers a reason to stop for a swim or a break for a piece of Key lime pie with postcard views.

Indeed, the main attractions in these parts are found on or near the water. The Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary is an area of roughly 2,900 square miles that protects the only living barrier coral reef in the United States -- the third largest such reef system in the world. And from Key Largo to Marathon and Big Pine Key to Key West, there are stops all along the way where you can get out for a snorkel in the grassy shallows or catch a short boat ride to a nearby reef guaranteed to be bustling with tropical fish and perhaps a turtle or moray eel.

Key West, the end of the road, is on most visitors' agendas, with lots of attractions for all ages -- everything from butterfly farms and "train" rides around town to the revelry of Duval Street that's aimed decidedly at the more mature set. Few free activities can compare with watching the nightly sunset celebration at Mallory Square, where street performers might be found juggling atop high wires or teaching their dogs to retrieve dollar bills from the tourist throngs against a backdrop of passing sailboats and vendors selling crafts and conch fritters.

Wherever you venture in the Keys, expect a spirit of adventure and independence from the locals. And look for the Conch Republic flag to be flying proud everywhere, too -- in 1982, Key West and the Florida Keys managed to briefly declare their independence from the mainland during a border patrol dispute. The official freedom may not have come to fruition, but this part of the country will always walk to the beat of a different drummer entirely. Dive in with the whole gang and enjoy!

Written by Terry Ward less

Florida Keys Planning & Tips

35 Top-Rated Family Resorts in Florida Keys


Florida Keys Family Resorts

Florida Keys Family Reviews

Fun in the Sun
by delsignore
Siesta Key, Fla. was really, really nice. The flight was short & sweet coming from N.Y. and non-stop, which is a big plus. Although we knew ... read more
Florida Keys Family Reviews

986 Florida Keys Family Vacation Rentals


2 Bdrms, sleeps 6
from $239/Nt.

2 Bdrms, sleeps 6
from $239/Nt.

2 Bdrms, sleeps 4
from $220/Nt.

Florida Keys Vacation Rentals

43 Florida Keys Family Attractions


Florida Keys Family Attractions

  •  
    FREE Family Travel Newsletter
  • Family Travel Tips   (8 New)

    Family Planning and Tips

    • Carnival Miracle Travel Tips
      OverviewCabinsDiningActivitiesTravel Tips All About the Extras Sail & Sign Card Carnival ships feature Sail & Sign cards, which make life so much easier. All you do is link a debit card or credit card to your Sail & Sign Card at Guest Relations or a kiosk on the ship. You'll then use your Sai...
    • Carnival Miracle Dining
      OverviewCabinsDiningActivitiesTravel Tips During the cruise, I quickly learned that cruise food is every bit as big of a deal as the cruise itself. And when it comes to dining, the Carnival Miracle does not disappoint. Bacchus Restaurant Thousands of purple, bubble-like lights embellish Bacc...
    • Carnival Miracle
      OverviewCabinsDiningActivitiesTravel Tips One of four Spirit class ships, Carnival Miracle made its magical debut in 2004. While it's certainly not Carnival's grandest ship, it's definitely something of a "miracle" for families, who find an ample amount of amenities and activities on board. Amid ...
    • 10 Best Orlando Resorts for Families
      So many hotels and resorts to choose from! Which ones really are the best for families in terms of theme-park access, amenities, and accommodations? Here are our favorites in the Orlando area! 1. Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creak Maybe it is the Hilton's water park with two zero-entry pools, a 3-acre ...
    • 10 Best Disney World Resorts for Families
      When it comes to Disney, they certainly know how to cater to families, and families who want to visit Disney's Orlando theme parks will find a large selection of resorts and hotels to accommodate families of all sizes. But which ones are the best? Take a look at these 10 favorites of our editors and...
    • Skip This: Do That!
      Deciding where to go for your next family vacation? Often it's the most popular destinations -- from mega theme parks to world-famous beach towns -- that come to mind first. It's tempting to pick a familiar place and just go with what you know, but do this and you could be missing out on some fantas...
    • Disney Wonder Alaskan Cruise
      Join us onboard Disney Wonder's first exploration into Alaskan waters and ports as Family Vacation Critic Editor Lissa Poirot and her two tots take you on a tour. Be the first to see a sample of Disney's Alaskan Port Adventures, as well as glimpse the Disney Wonder's onboard fun, in our first-ever d...
    • Family Volunteer Vacations
      Away from the hectic pace of our everyday lives, any vacation is a chance for families to reconnect. There's no soccer game, no piano recital, no working late, so finally you have that precious day together. Yet, if you really want a meaningful break from your usual schedule, one that might change t...
  • Twitter
  • Facebook