Guest post by Damon Santelli

Key West is known for its gorgeous beaches, happening restaurant and bar scene, and coral reefs. But did you know it is an excellent place for families to visit?

As we all know, traveling as a family can be challenging. Oftentimes, the trips are long, the kids are antsy, and parents are just hoping there’s enough to do to hold everyone’s interest.

Key West ticks all the boxes for families seeking someplace exciting. It is also easily accessible by plane or car – just a few hours from Miami, Florida.

If you’re considering a trip, here are a few “Can’t Miss” sights for families:

The city of Key West offer a variety of family-friendly activities and attractions for visitors and locals alike. If you’ve never been before, start your vacation with the Conch Train Tour. This hop-on and hop-off ride around Old Key West gives you the highlights of the history and culture of the island from knowledgeable and personable tour guides. Stop along the way to do a little shopping or get an ice cream cone.

Every night’s a party at Mallory Square’s Sunset Celebration! Just off Duval Street, one of the main roads in Key West, you’ll find a welcoming gathering of musicians, performers, artisans, food vendors, and more. It’s a great way to kick off a stay in Key West or spend your last night in town – either way, the sunsets from this location are unforgettable.

No trip to Key West is complete without a relaxing beach day for the family.

The beaches in Key West may be small but they make up for it in views! There’s Higgs Beach, with a playground on-site. It’s located near a restaurant, and dogs are permitted here, too. Smathers is the largest beach in Key West. Or, try Fort Zachary Taylor. This state park has a sandy beach, plus nature trails and places to go fishing.

For families who enjoy a bigger adventure, catch the ferry from Key West to Dry Tortugas National Park.

The biggest draw here is the snorkeling; it’s a wonderful opportunity to share sea life with your children. Several of the reefs are shallow enough for novice snorkelers; more advanced children and adults can swim among shipwrecks and larger coral reefs. The park also offers tours of the fort, a beach for swimming, and picnic areas.

Charter fishing boats offer customized half- or full-day excursions for reef, wreck, flats, or deep sea fishing. Catch tarpon, grouper, tuna, and more. Fishing charters have all of the gear and licensing necessary for visitors to enjoy a day on the water without worrying about gear and paperwork. And if you’re lucky, take your catch to one of the local restaurants for dinner!

Here are a few of the top family restaurants in Key West:

There’s an eclectic mix of cuisines available in Key West, as a simple food tour can show you.

When it’s time for meals, choose from among Cuban, Italian, Mexican, Thai, American, and more. There are numerous options for quick serve, casual, moderate, and fine dining across the city. Here are some favorites among families:

At Caroline’s Cafe on Duval Street, enjoy sidewalk dining on raised deck. The menu includes light fare like salads, sandwiches, and entrees, and leans heavily on seafood dishes, as do many restaurants in Key West. Among the favorites: the shrimp po-boy, conch fritters, and fish sandwich. Customers rave about the large portions, freshness of their meals, and the friendly service.

If you’re on the other side of Key West, check out the Hurricane Hole Marina and Restaurant on Stock Island. Get a waterfront table and peruse a menu with traditional Key West treats like Key Lime pie, as well as vegetarian and gluten-free items. Kid-friendly dishes include quesadillas and nachos. This is one of the restaurants that will cook your catch if you head back to the marina after a day of fishing.

The Cafe on Southard St., describes itself as a “mostly vegetarian place”. There’s a good mix of light and hearty dishes, with an emphasis on fresh ingredients. Try the mahi-mahi, vegetable omelette, falafel, sweet potato fries, coconut cake, bean salad. and breakfast burritos. Specialty drinks like watermelon sangria are served here.

And finally, don’t miss Greene Street’s Duetto Pizza and Gelato.

 It’s practically a Key West institution!

Their award-winning pizza is served by the pie or slice; take out or dine in. And of course, don’t miss the house-made gelato for dessert!

Key West is a great vacation spot for families!

There’s lots to see and do, and creative dining options mean that there’s something for everyone to enjoy.

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Damon Santelli is a charter fisherman and a owner of Eaton Street Seafood located in Key West.

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