June 24, 2017

Florida Keys Road Trip: 10 Stops to Make with Kids

Activities in the Florida KeysA couple of years ago, two of my girls and I set off on a five-day Florida Keys road trip from Key Largo to Key West. It’s just over two hours by car from Key to Key, but there are so many activities in the Florida Keys, like snorkeling, visiting with sea turtles and, of course, striking a pose at the colorful buoy in Key West that marks the Southernmost Point in the United States.

I’m hoping to take another Florida road trip next year, but for now, I wanted to share 10 stops you must make with your kids on a Florida Keys road trip. Enjoy the sunshine, the views and the activities in the Florida Keys that your kids will remember and talk about for ages. Here is your Florida Keys road trip itinerary.

Florida Keys Road Trip

Stop #1: John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park
Located in Key Largo, John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park is the nation’s first underwater state park and it’s a great first stop to make on your Florida Keys road trip. Wade into the water and snorkel at Cannon Beach, but if you want to see the coral reefs, take a short ride on a snorkel boat to one of the shallow reefs, like Banana Reef or White Banks Dry Rocks.

Stop #2: Florida Keys Wild Bird Rehabilitation Center
Next, stop at the Florida Keys Wild Bird Rehabilitation Center just down the road in Tavernier. Visit with wild birds at the Lara Quinn Wild Bird Sanctuary and take time to learn about some of the injured birds, like barn owls and pelicans, even blue jays, that could not be returned to the wild.

Related: Best Places to Snorkel in the Florida Keys

Stop #3: Alligator Reef
In the Middle Keys, try Alligator Reef, which is just off of Islamorada. Look for a 136-foot tall lighthouse. Rent a kayak from Islander Watersports and head out into the clear waters where there are plenty of coral sponges and colorful tropical fish. As you can imagine, it’s also a great spot for snorkeling.

Activities in the Florida Keys

Stop #4: Hawks Cay Resort
On Duck Key, look for Hawks Cay Resort, one of my favorite Florida Keys resorts. It’s about half-way down the Florida Keys and is a nice stop along the way to Key West on this Florida road trip. Stay a night or two to splash in the Pirate Ship Pool or paddle around in tiki boats in the Saltwater Lagoon. Or, get up-close with dolphins as part of the Dolphin Connection program. Click here for the latest nightly rates and reviews for Hawks Cay Resort.

Related article: Top 10 Things to Do in Miami with Kids

Stop #5: Turtle Hospital
In Marathon, it’s a must to stop in the Turtle Hospital for a tour to learn about work done to rescue, rehabilitate and release sea turtles. See where they do turtle surgeries, as well as where current patients and long-term guests reside. Fun fact: the Turtle Hospital is a former mom-and-pop motel from the 1950s.

Activities in the Florida Keys

Stop #6: Bahia Honda State Park
Keep driving the Florida Keys, then make a stop to splash around on the beach at Bahia Honda State Park on Big Pine Key. Located at Mile Marker 37, there’s a fantastic public beach, as well as the Sand and Sea Nature Center. Look for fossils, kids coloring pages and other activities that introduce visitors to local plants and animals.

Related: 15 Fun Things to Do in Fort Lauderdale with Kids

Stop #7: Old Town Trolley Tours
Once in Key West, take a 90-minute hop-on, hop-off trolley tour around the island with Old Town Trolley Tours. The drivers are very knowledgeable and it’s a great way to learn about the history and landmarks of Key West before going out to explore the area on your own.

Activities in the Florida Keys

Stop #8: Harry S. Truman Little White House
Our 33rd President, Harry S. Truman, loved Key West. He spent 175 days of his six-year presidency in this home, known as the Harry S. Truman Little White House. Take a tour for loads of fun facts and the opportunity to brush up on presidential history. This was one of my favorite stops on our Key West road trip.

Related article: 8 Things to Do in Key West with Kids

Stop #9: Southernmost Point
During peak season, you may need to wait in line (we did), but it’s worth it to have your picture taken with the huge buoy that marks the Southernmost Point in the United States. It’s just 90 miles from Cuba and has fabulous views. And, really, no Key West road trip is complete without snapping a selfie at the Southernmost Point.

Activities in the Florida Keys

Stop #10: Mallory Square
Your kids may love the sunset, but they may love the nightly performers in Mallory Square even more.  The square is filled with jugglers, acrobats and even pets jumping through hoops and ringing bells. Oh, and be sure to get Frozen Key Lime Pie on a Stick while you are there. Yum.

Related: 5 Eco-Friendly Hotel Kids Clubs in Florida

I hope this Florida Keys road trip planner showed you that there are so many activities in the Florida Keys, and lots of great resorts in the Florida Keys, like Hawks Cay Resort. If you’re ready for a Florida Keys road trip, check out the latest Florida Keys hotel deals, including deals on hotels on Key Largo, Marathon and Key West.

Once you’ve reached the end of your Florida road trip to Key West, you’ll no doubt be ready to splash in the waves. Before you hop in the car, don’t forget to check off what you need on this beach vacation packing list. Have fun!

Photo Credits: Jim Lukach (Bahia Honda State Park), Clement Cousin (Alligator Reef), Cleminca (Turtle Hospital), Robin Summerhill (Old Town Trolley), Jennifer Macaulay (Southernmost Point)

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