These days it's a challenge to find something to do with with the younger ones on family getaways. Do you seem to spend most of the day standing in lines waiting for the next roller coaster or to meet and greet their favorite (for today) animated movie character? Well, not so when you visit southwest Florida, where you will have a totally new and exciting way to discover one of the state's most memorable gems... KEY WEST
You may have heard of some of the wild and wacky goings on that are for adult fun only but, do you know of all the wonderful experiences for the entire family. Here are some ideas to make your next family getaway one of happy memories filled with smiles and laughter, that the entire family will look back on fondly for years to come.
Key West is an island oasis recognized as the southernmost point of the United States. Predominantly a pedestrian island, walking is the most convenient and easiest way to enjoy & explore, although bikes, scooters, golf carts and the like are available for rent. Getting there and back is half the fun when you travel aboard the high speed ferries of Key West Express. No need to despair at the thought of spending 6 to 8 hours in a vehicle with fidgety kids and the constant drone of "Are we there yet??". Yes, we have all been there, done that! The jet powered catamarans of Key West Express will whisk you out over the beautiful turquoise waters of the Gulf of Mexico and in just a few short hours you'll arrive in one of Florida's most wonderful vacation destinations, (mouse ears not required).
So pack your flip flops, bathing suits, sunscreen and sit back and relax as your vacation begins, after you've been welcomed aboard. Whether it's for the day or a couple of days, there is something for everyone of all ages.
The World Famous Conch Tour Train offers a narrated 1.5 hour "train" tour through the island. The professional staff of island experts highlights all the wonderful things to see and do during your stay. If something strikes your fancy that you must do right then, there are numerous stopping points where you can get off, explore and then hop back on later to continue your tour. For your convenience, you can ask a crew member about getting tickets on the boat before you even arrive in Key West, where a dedicated train awaits your arrival.
Another fantastic place to visit is Fort Zachary Taylor State Park. Admission here is only a few dollars per person and you can let the kids run amuck over the grounds of the fort and play in and around the civil war cannons that still "protect" the island from invaders and pirates. Visitors can rent snorkeling gear to explore the breathtaking underwater world that is unique to the Florida Keys, layout your beach towels and picnic on the beach or tour the National Historic Landmark on this 54 acre state park.
One of the most recognized and photographed places on the island is a must stop photo op! The Southernmost Buoy is about the only time that you may have to stand in line for anything in Key West, so go early. From this point you're only about 90 miles from Cuba and, a little tidbit of trivia, you're actually closer to Cuba than you are to the nearest Wal-Mart!
The Key West Butterfly & Nature Conservatory is a short walk away and a garden filled treasure of butterflies, birds, koi fish, flamingos and turtles.
At the Key West Aquarium the kids can see and touch some of the varied and beautiful underwater dwellers that live in the surrounding waters. Across the street, discover the fascinating history of how Key West came to be by visiting the Shipwreck Museum. Don't forget to climb the lookout tower, one of the tallest points of the island, to get a full 360 degree birds eye view. Just a block or so away is the Mel Fisher Maritime Museum. Yea, we know kids are thinking "boring" but, where else can you literally see and maybe even hold, millions of dollars worth of Gold, Silver and Precious Gems that were salvaged from sunken Spanish Galleons off the waters of Key West. Your teen and tweens can just imagine what they could do with all that bling!
This should get you started on planning that next family outing. There are many other great and wonderful things to see and do, that we could go on and on and on. We have not even mentioned all the water activities and Florida's only waterpark on the ocean!
If you're spending a night or two, then a trip to Mallory Square is definitely in order. There's no place else in the world that celebrates the daily setting of the sun, in all it's glorious wonder, like Key West. This celebration of sunset is a festival packed with street performers, entertainment and vendors. You might even see Spider Man or Captain Jack Sparrow wandering the waterfront!
When you're ready to take the plunge and head to Key West, We'll be here waiting on you and the whole gang.
Hero Image Photo Credit: Unsplash