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Key West family activities and entertainment for children

Ever Wonder What It's Like to Raise a Family in Key West? Find Out From Author Clay Greager

Your children can enjoy a full schedule of eco-tours, dive-snorkel outings, fishing trips and visits to area attractions. Key West is also a family-oriented community where you can find plenty of free activities to entertain your children between excursions. The following are some of the parks and playgrounds in the area:

Key West Nature Preserve
Two entrances on Atlantic Blvd.
The City of Key West acquired this undeveloped ocean-front property and turned it into an accessible natural area. Wooden walkways and trails take visitors through mangrove forests to a quiet strip of beach. Children will enjoy seeing butterflies, lizards and birds.

Key West Marine Park
Atlantic Ocean from White Street to Duval Street
The near-shore waters along the southwest end of Key West have been cordoned off with buoys to create safe areas for swimming and snorkeling. Your children can view numerous species of coral, tropical fish and birds at this park set up by the local group Reef Relief.

Astro City
Atlantic Blvd.
This well-equipped playground is conveniently located just across the street from Higgs Beach. It is a popular stop for families on their way to and from the beach, White Street Pier or old town Key West.

Bayview Park
Truman Ave. and Eisenhower St.
This large park offers plenty of room for a family ball game. You'll also find a fully-equipped playground, basketball court, bathrooms and tennis courts. Los of community events take place here.

Mallory Square
Waterfront at Front Street
This waterfront park is the site of the island's daily Sunset Celebration. Your children will enjoy watching open-air performers and sampling food from vendors who gather here an hour before sunset each day. Your kids might even get drafted to help the performers.

White Street Pier
Southern end of White Street, oceanside
This pedestrian pier extends hundreds yards over the Atlantic Ocean. When winds are calm, or out of the north, a stroll along this pier reveals large schools of fish and numerous feeding shore birds. The end of the pier is a good spot to take kids fishing. In addition to small snappers and grunts, anglers have been know to hook into tarpon, snook and redfish.

Historic Seaport District
Caroline Street
Key West's civic leaders had the foresight to build a public walkway around this former commercial-fishing harbor known locally as "the Bight." The area's restaurants and charter services are now big hits, but this is also a great place to take a stroll with your children. They might find a wild sea turtle undergoing rehabilitation at the free Turtle Kraals Museum. They might also see hungry tarpon and occasionally manatees from the walkway.

Fort Zachary Taylor State Park and Beach
Southard Street on Truman Annex, Key West
This historic fortress at the southwest end of Key West is a fascinating place to roam. The grounds offer a sandy beach with picnic tables and restrooms. Children will enjoy watching the boats sail by out of Key West Harbor. The fort was named after the 12th President of the United States.

Florida Keys Eco-Discovery Center
With its touch screens, stunning photos, and roomy theater, this educational center has become a hit with families. It's a fun way to learn about reef and mangrove habitats before or after an excursion. The center is operated by the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, phone (305) 292-0311. Admission is free at the Truman Annex Waterfront.