Key West has been on my travel bucket list for a while now. The colourful colonial architecture, cute shops, and gorgeous sunsets are what drew me to the southern-most tip of Florida. But with the long drive from Miami airport (over 3 hours) coupled with fairly expensive accommodations, I quickly ix-nayed Key West and started looking at more budget-friendly options closer to Miami. (We ended up stayed in Key Largo and absolutely loved it! Check out my Key Largo post here.) That said, I was still itching to check out Key West and since the forecast called for non-stop rain during one of our four days in the Keys, I figured a rainy day would be perfect for the long drive out west. We checked out the butterfly conservatory, ate lunch at the cutest french bistro, and did a lot of (stroller) walking to take in all of the sights. Despite a bit of a rough drive home (Isabelle was so over being in the car after a half hour already), I’m glad we had the chance to explore a little bit of this beautiful island.
I put together a little video of some of our Key West highlights below:
And of course some photos as well. It was raining for most of the day so I didn’t have my camera out too much, but I did get some nice shots in the butterfly conservatory and of our little stroller walk through the residential area once the rain finally let up.
I want to live in this house please! Wrap around porches (and balconies) are everything.
I love, love, love the pastel-painted colonial architecture in Key West. Every single house is so pretty!
WHERE TO STAY
AirBnB . Having a whole home at your disposal is generally a better idea with young kids than being crammed into a small hotel room and having to sit in silence in the dark once the kids are in bed. So I love AirBnB for travelling. This home is a little pricey on its own but if you’re going with a few families, would be the perfect place to hole up. Pool and everything!
Pier House . The perfect luxury resort if you’re bringing along young kids and are looking for a place that has it all – family rooms, a private beach, pool, and several restaurants and bars to grab a bite without ever leaving the resort.
Parrot Key Hotel and Resort . This resort has plenty of 1, 2, and 3-bedroom suites for families big and small. Free laundry facilities, a heated pool, a sandy beach, onsite cafe, and free wifi make this a great place to unwind with your kids in tow.
WHAT TO DO
Key West Butterfly & Nature Conservatory . Is there anything more magical in the eyes of a child than a colourful butterfly? And whilst butterflies are definitely the highlight, you’ll also find birds, flamingoes, koi fish, and turtles here.
Key West Aquarium . While this may not be the largest aquarium you’ve ever been to, it’s perfect for young kids, showcasing sea creatures that populate the Florida Keys such as lobsters, seahorses, jellyfish, stingrays, and turtles. They also offer kids the opportunity to touch and hold starfish, horseshoe crabs and conchs.
Conch Tour Train . What kid doesn’t love a train? This tour is the perfect way to cover a lot of ground very quickly as well as get to know the history behind Key West. Beware though: the first stop that you can get off of is 45 minutes into the tour. That might be too long for your toddler(s), which is why we opted to skip the train. (That and it was pouring rain and I didn’t feel like getting soaking wet on a open-air vehicle. Brrr.)
Higgs Beach . If you’re looking for a Florida Keys beach holiday, I wouldn’t stay on Key West island, to be honest. We stayed on Key Largo, which was fantastic (close to Miami as well as so many restaurants and shops), but I’ve also heard good things about Marathon and Islamorada. That said, if heading to a beach is only one of many todos on your vacation itinerary, then Key West is the perfect spot. And the perfect spot for some beach time on the island is Higgs Beach. There’s a playground, a seaside restaurant, and a beach shop that lets you rent beach chairs, umbrellas, kayaks, and more.
Stroller walks through the residential area . If your kids love sitting in the stroller (or if they are in need of a stroller nap), take a walk through the residential streets, full of both cute little pastel houses and grand colonial estates.
WHERE TO EAT
La Crêperie . A french café offering an erray of organic breakfast, lunch, and mid-afternoon snack food items, including plenty of vegan and gluten-free options. Kids get several reasonably-priced options as well, included a classic nutella crepe that Isabelle devoured in record time.
Bien . This little Key West gem serves authentic and absolutely delicious Caribbean and Latino food. It’s a small joint mainly catering to the take-out crowd, which is perfect for parents putting their kids to bed early and then want to eat a meal in peace on their balcony. If takeout is not your style, there are a few places to sit outside and a kids menu with toddler-approved grilled cheese and other sandwiches.
Mattheesen’s . If you’re looking for a sweet treat, look no further than one of Mattheesen’s two locations on Duval Street. You can choose from delicious (and very generously-sized) ice cream, cookies, fudge, or the obligatory key lime pie.
WHAT TO AVOID
There’s a lot of debate online whether Key West is child-friendly or not. I think it definitively is, even though for Isabelle’s age, Key Largo or Marathon is definitely a better bet since it’s quiet, has nicer beaches, and is closer to the Miami airport (the drive to Key West was a lot longer than I expected). Adult entertainment is a big part of Key West tourism and I was rather surprised at how evident this was even in the middle of the day. The northern half of Duval Street has a ton of bars playing really loud music all day long plus there were plenty of drunk and high people roaming the streets. So if you’re staying in Key West, I’d definitely recommend being far enough away from that area of town to keep the noise (and rowdiness) at bay. And if you want to stroll along Duval Street, stick with the southern half.