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Everything you need to know about the Conch Republic. Keep up on local events, nightlife and activities while in Key West.

A Guide to Visiting Florida with Kids | Gates Hotel Key West

A Guide to Visiting Florida with Kids | Gates Hotel Key West

May 20th, 2024 | Activities

Hitting the open road with the kids along the Overseas Highway? With clear turquoise water, native wildlife, adventure, and outstanding food, the Keys are exploding at its water-sewn seams with family-friendly activities. From tips to tricks, where to explore and where to eat, we’re breaking down everything you need to maximize family fun in the Florida Keys & Key West.

[Tropical Family Retreat Package - Only When You Book Direct with The Gates Hotel]

Family Pit Stops Along the Overseas Highway (U.S. Route 1): Best Places to Visit with Kids in the Florida Keys & Key West

Screen time may only get the kids so far on a road trip through the Florida Keys. Keep the entire family happy and entertained with activities to satisfy every interest. Make sure your itinerary includes a glass bottom boat tour at John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park (Key Largo), feeding the tarpon at Robbie’s Marina (Islamorada), and seeing dolphins and sea lions at the Dolphin Research Center (Grassy Key, Marathon) and sea turtles at the Turtle Hospital (Marathon).

There are so many family photo opportunities along the Overseas Highway! Kids will love seeing Betsy the 30-foot Florida spiny lobster (Islamorada), Lorelei the Mermaid, a giant wooden mermaid at the entrance to Lorelai Restaurant and Cabana Bar (Islamorada), the World’s Largest Queen Angelfish outside Tilden’s Scuba Center (Marathon), Nibbles the Shark bursting through a wave outside the Shady Palms Art Gallery (Marathon), and the Mile Marker ‘0’ at the corner of Fleming and Whitehead Streets in Key West.

[Most Instagrammable Places along the Overseas Highway of the Florida Keys]


Once you get to Key West, your family-friendly entertainment options are pretty much endless.

For entertainment, check out the Florida Keys Eco-Discovery Center, Key West Shipwreck Museum, Key West Lighthouse, Old Town Trolley Tour or Conch Tour Train, Ghosts and Gravestones Tour, Sunset Celebration at Mallory Square, Key West Butterfly and Nature Conservatory, and Key West Aquarium.

Get active with activities like jet skiing, biking, or renting a scoot coupe to explore Old Town. There’s also a flurry of water activities at Smathers Beach, or a boat ride to Key West’s largest ocean waterpark with Fury Adventures. Fury’s ‘Ultimate Adventure’ includes parasailing, banana boat and jet ski rides, and time on their 3,500 sq. ft. of connected inflatable water toys.

[Family-Friendly Things to Do in Key West]

Public Amenities along the Overseas Highway in the Florida Keys - Playgrounds, Restrooms, Picnic Areas, and Beaches

Road tripping the Florida Keys with kids doesn’t need to be exhausting. A family trip in a place with nothing but sunny skies and laid back vibes should be easy! Be at ease knowing that there are plenty of public amenities for a stretch break. Here are the best rest stops in the most distinctive regions en route to Key West:

  • Key Largo: Florida Keys Visitor Center has a helpful, friendly staff and clean bathrooms.
  • Islamorada: Anne’s Beach has a restroom at the north parking lot, plus covered pavilions with picnic tables, a boardwalk, and a shallow swimming area.
  • Marathon: Sombrero Beach has picnic pavilions, restrooms, showers, and a brand new playground in the works. Traveling with your four-legged family member? Try Marathon’s Dog Park!
  • Big Pine Key: Big Pine Key Community Park is just a short detour from the highway, but has plenty of parking, restrooms, water fountains, picnic tables, a playground, and sports fields.


[Overseas Highway Road Trip Planner: The Best Stops Along the Way]

“The Florida Keys & Key West. Come as you are!”


Best Places To Eat With Kids in the Florida Keys & Key West

Take a drive through the tasty foodie trail that is the Overseas Highway. There are many Florida Keys restaurants that kids love - and they’re all super casual.

Alabama Jacks (Key Largo) is famous for its conch fritters, and Snook’s Bayside Restaurant and Grand Tiki and Snappers Oceanfront Restaurant and Bar (also on Key Largo) are all popular waterfront places for a nice lunch break.

In Islamorada, there's the Green Turtle Inn, Hungry Tarpon Restaurant at the famous Robbie’s Marina, Stone Oven Pizzeria, and M.E.A.T. Eatery and Taproom, famous for its award-winning burgers.

Burdines Waterfront (Marathon) has a huge deck overlooking the water and their deep fried key lime pie is an easy win with kids.

Big Pine Rooster on Big Pine Key is a cozy casual spot with a big kids menu.

In Key West, the welcoming attitude towards families is reflected in its abundance of kid-friendly restaurants. There’s The Blind Pig food truck on site here at The Gates Hotel that serves up breakfast, lunch, and dinner. In Old Town, families love Blue Heaven, Two Friends Restaurant, Conch Republic, Half Shell Raw Bar, and Flamingo Crossing for ice cream. For breakfast, try The Breakfast Club Too. They have a Pancake Charcuterie Board that’s a hit with kids with its build-your-own pancake toppings of fresh fruit, raspberry jam, peanut butter, homemade pastry cream, maple whipped cream, and maple syrup.

Where to Stay in the Florida Keys & Key West with Kids

The Gates Hotel offers free shuttle service from our New Town hotel to Old Town, the perfect setup for families who need a quiet setting with a lot of space. Our Double Queen with Pool View & Terrace has over 300 sq. ft. of space with an outdoor terrace overlooking the pool. We have a Starbucks next door, a McDonalds a short walk away, and more on-site food and drink options so you and your family can post up and stay awhile.

Now that you have everything you need to plan your family-friendly trip to the Florida Keys & Key West, see which of our special offers is the best fit for your family. Our new and exclusive Tropical Family Retreat Package was designed with families in mind. Enjoy a curated list of family-friendly activities, complimentary cocktails, kid-friendly snacks, discounts on poolside cabana rentals, and all the beach essentials your family will need for a fun day on the sand.