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Five For Family Fun In Key West
Key West is a wonderful port of call for cruising families. The southernmost city in the continental United States is filled with cool attractions, engaging museums, and exciting options for outdoor adventure. There’s something for every age group and interest in this fun and funky port of call.
Ships dock at Mallory Square, conveniently located in the center of Key West's action, or near the Truman Annex. Whether you're arriving by cruise ship for a one-day visit or staying overnight at one of the Keys’ family-friendly resorts, you’ll find there’s too much to do in just a few hours or days. Many families fall in love with the Florida Keys on their visit and often return to the region for a longer stay.
Beach lovers can certainly find their place in the sun in Key West. Smathers Beach offers beach equipment rentals, food concessions and a number of water sport activities. The beautiful palm-studded beach offers a number of shady spots for sitting. Gradual entry into the shallow water here makes it a good choice for families with younger children, too.
For families who prefer to explore a little and soak up more of what Key West has to offer, here are five great things to do in Key West:
1. Get Close to Nature. Walk through the Key West Butterfly & Nature Conservatory's tropical paradise and marvel at hundreds of free-flying butterflies and over 25 species of exotic birds from around the globe. About 50 to 60 different species of butterflies can be found in this climate-controlled, glass enclosed habitat. Then visit the Key West Aquarium, Key West's oldest attraction and home to hundreds of species of local sea life. The Florida Keys Eco-Discovery Center is another excellent place for families to learn about the underwater world and natural habitats of the Keys.
2. Ride the Conch Train. This cute open-air train is a great way for families to eliminate long walks and get an overview of the city on clear days. The 90-minute hop on, hop off tour covers all of Key West's highlights, including the Southernmost Point. If the weather is bad or you'd like to make more stops, the enclosed Old Town Trolley may be the best bet. Children ages twelve and under ride free on both the Conch Train and the Old Town Trolley.
3. Get Out On The Water. Catamaran cruises are a relaxing way for families to spend the day and get a close-up view of Key West's spectacular nearby reef and crystal blue waters. These ultra-stable, roomy boats take vacationers out to North America's only living coral reef. Here, families can enjoy snorkeling with tropical fish or lazing on the deck soaking up the sun. Glass-bottom boat tours are also available for families with little ones or those who don't want to get wet. Nature kayaking tours around the mangrove creeks and shallow flats surrounding Key West are also fun for families. It’s common to see sea life on these tours including conch shells, nurse sharks, tropical fish, herons, egrets and other birds. Two-person speedboat tours are also popular with families. Kids must be at least six years of age to go on most kayaking and speedboat tours in Key West.
5. Cruise Around. It's easy to tour Key West on a comfortable beach cruiser bike available from several bike rental shops on the island. Guided bike tours are also offered for families with children ages ten and up. Families can also rent "Conch Cruisers," golf cart-like electric vehicles that will accommodate up to four passengers, from Key West Cruisers and other local companies.
5. Explore Key West's Cool Museums. Key West has a number of fascinating museums that reflect its fascinating history. There’s even a Little White House here. Harry S. Truman, the 33rd President of the United States, was one of Key West's most famous residents and his home is open to the public for tours. Other notable sites include the Key West Heritage House, Key West's Shipwreck Historeum, and the Mel Fisher Maritime Heritage Museum. Ripley’s Believe It or Not! is another popular stop for families visiting Key West. With over 10,000 square feet of space showcasing over 550 exhibits, this Ripley’s location displays such things as a real shrunken human torso originally owned by Ernest Hemingway, two-headed animals and more. Children of ages five and under are admitted free of charge.
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