Thought of as the southernmost point in the continental United States, Key West offers families a bit of a tropical village feel without leaving the country. From restaurants that tempt your taste buds to attractions that entertain, here is a great family day trip in the city.
Enjoy breakfast on in a small café right on the sand at the Southernmost Beach Café where the kids will enjoy a tasty stack of pancakes (you can order a stack of 5 on the children’s menu) as you soak in the sound of the waves.
Image: Southernmost Cafe
Or for something closer to the village scene, start your morning with a mimosa and lobster eggs Benedict with key lime sauce at Blue Heaven. Your kids will love the unexpected guests.
Before heading to the heart of Key West be sure to make your way to the famous Southernmost Point Key West Buoy for a photo. It’s a popular spot for visitors so be prepared to wait. People seem to regulate themselves nicely in a line. Down the street you’ll find the Butterfly Conservatory. Within its glass dome you’ll walk among many native species of butterfly as they flutter and fly around you, uncaged. One may even land on you. Before you leave be sure to transform you butterfly fan into a butterfly herself with a photo board out front.
Image: Rob O’Neal/Florida Keys News Bureau
A walk down the famous Duval Street is a must. You’ll find souvenir shops and restaurants mixed with outdoor cafes and lively entertainment within bars. One of my favourite stops was at Naples Soap Company for handmade soaps like the key lime loofa soap. I love that even the Walgreens was showing a little character, housed within an old movie theatre.
As you work your way down to Key West’s historic seaport, stop into the Conch Republic Seafood Company for a waterfront lunch. This open-air restaurant is pretty lively with its saltwater breezes and sailboats galore. I loved their list of mojitos, including a very satisfying Key Lime Mojito, and the kids loved the tempura strawberries (as in cool sweet strawberries embedded in a warm crispy coating). Delish.
After a filling lunch you can spend the afternoon exploring the strange and odd at the Ripley’s Believe It or Not Museum or if gold is more your thing, head over to Mallory Square and the Shipwreck Museum. The adventurous ones will love climbing the 65’ lookout tower to spy for vessels in danger (plus it’s a great way to use up some of that pent up energy climbing those stairs).
Within Mallory Square you’ll find the Conch Train for local tours should your feet need a rest plus you’ll discover a few souvenir and gift shops. You may even spy a cruise ship docked with day-trippers from overseas. This explains the number of European accents we heard around town.
In the evening enjoy the sights of the Sunset Celebration in the Square, with musicians, clowns and jugglers, plus the star of the show – the Key West sunset. Wrap up your day in Key West within what was once a Cuban cigar factory. The family owned and operated El Meson de Pepe will bring a little Cuban culture into your evening through your bellies. We discovered the many different ways you can enjoy plantains, plus my husband and I shared the most delicious homemade sangria recipe.
If you still have a little energy left in you, try taking a stroll up Duval at night. Even if you visited the street for it’s many shops during the day, it’s a very different scene at night. It reminded me of Music Row in Nashville, with different musical sounds spilling out on to the street to entertain you on your walk home.
Stopping in Key West for the day will have you wanting more of the quaint and quirky town. Should you wish to extend your day trip Key West offers a variety of accommodations from Bed and Breakfasts and to Inns and Hotels. As you’re visiting the southernmost point in the continental US, why not stay at the Southernmost on the Beach, close enough to the variety Key West has to offer but far enough away to feel like a tropical escape.
We also have a great family day trip idea for Marathon in the Florida Keys. If you’re looking at planning your own day trip to Key West or any of the Florida Keys, you can find more ideas on their site http://www.fla-keys.com/
Thanks to the Florida Keys Tourism for their assistance during our visit.