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How to Plan a Family Trip to the Florida Keys

While many countries are starting the process to unlock after the coronavirus pandemic shutdowns throughout the world, a lot of people aren’t ready to travel yet, at least not outside of their own country.

For residents of the United States, if you’re searching for the perfect family-friendly domestic destination, the Florida Keys may be it.

The Florida Keys is a great road trip option if you’d like, and if your main concern is family travel safety right now, it can provide a peaceful, relaxing option.

The following are some tips and things to know about planning a family trip to the Florida Keys.

Driving from Miami

If you’re comfortable at least flying to Miami, which is a short flight for many people in the U.S., you might do that and then start the road trip portion of your Keys adventure from there.

You can rent a car and drive the Overseas Highway (Highway 1).

For a lot of people, driving this magnificent stretch of roadway is a bucket list experience on its own.

You might drive the route over several days, or you might do it all at once, which should take you around five hours and will eventually take you to Key West.

If you have a few days to stay in Miami, there are some family-friendly hotel options like the high-end Loew’s Miami Beach. The Loews South Beach Hotel features a modern kids club, and each of the on-site restaurants at the hotel has a kids’ menu.

The Beaches

A lot of people are surprised to find out that the Keys aren’t necessarily known for amazing beaches, at least not in the traditional sense.

The Keys are reefs, and a lot of people go for diving and snorkeling offshore.

That doesn’t mean there aren’t some gems, though.

If you have kids, you might want to think about staying in Key Largo, at least for a night or two. It’s closest to Miami and is also home to John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park on Largo Sound.

There are two humanmade beaches in the park, and a lot of families prefer Cannon Beach for snorkeling.

Islamorada is further down and also has nice beaches like Founders Park Beach. The 45-acre park has shallow water, so it’s good for kids.

Another good beach option is Sombrero Beach, which is on Marathon in the Middle Keys. Sombrero Beach has wonderful white sand and clear water that makes it good for snorkeling. Marathon is also home to the 1200-foot Curry Hammock State Park Beach with mangroves and shallow water.

In Key West, there’s Fort Zachary Beach. It’s part of the southernmost state park in the continental U.S.—Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park. The water is clear and warm, and you can also take a tour of the Fort, which is a National Historic Monument.

Smathers Beach is also in Key West and it’s one of the most popular. It has soft white sand and there are watersports rentals.

Kid-Friendly Attractions

Throughout the Keys, there are quite a few attractions that will appeal to kids and adults alike.

For example, there’s the Turtle Hospital in Marathon. Your entire family can learn about sea turtles at a facility that takes care of animals that are sick and injured before returning them to the wild.

There’s also the already-mentioned Pennekamp State Park, which was the first undersea park in the country.

Dry Tortugas can be reached by boat or seaplane from Key West, and it’s a small group of islands at the end of the Keys. Dry Tortugas National Park is home to Fort Jefferson, and the coral reefs of the archipelago are among the most undisturbed in the Keys.

The park is known for its plentiful sea life, tropical birds, and colorful reefs.

In Key West specifically, while it has a raucous reputation, there are quite a few things to do with kids as well.

You can go to the Curry House to enjoy famous key lime pie, and if your kids can handle it, when it turns to nightfall, take the Ghosts and Gravestones Tour. Key West is considered one of America’s most haunted cities after all.

For younger kids, there’s the Conch Train Tour, which lets you see all of Key West in around 90  minutes.

Key West is also where you’ll find the Butterfly and Nature Conservatory and the Shipwreck Treasure Museum.

Where to Stay

You might want to pick one landing place in the Keys and stay there for the duration of your trip, or maybe you’ll hop from key-to-key and stay overnight on a few. Great family-friendly lodging options in the keys include:

  • The Isla Bella Beach Resort is in Marathon, and it’s beautiful. It’s tranquil and far enough away from the Overseas Highway to ensure a quiet, peaceful environment. The resort has a mile of waterfront on the property, as well as tropical scenery. There are both rooms and suites.
  • Hawks Cay Resort is in Duck Key. There are units with multiple bedrooms available if you’re traveling with a group. There are a splash pad and a family swimming pool, as well as a playground on the property.
  • In Key West, quite a few of the properties are adults-only, but one that’s family-friendly is the Hyatt Centric Key West Resort and Spa. It includes a large outdoor swimming pool and bike rentals. There are also two onsite restaurants.
  • Cheeca Lodge & Spa is in Islamorada, and it’s one of the Key’s biggest resorts. Cheeca has a private beach, a nine-hole golf course, and a private fishing pier. There are three onsite restaurants and a full-service spa with services for kids as well as adults.

The Keys just might be your family’s ideal domestic travel destination this summer if you want adventure, great food, and beautiful scenery. Make it a road trip as you discover all the Keys have to offer from top-to-bottom.