RVing Key West With Kids

rv camping

We headed to Key West, Florida with our family in the RV this year. When I was planning our travels, I imagined Key West having beautiful beaches and pristine waters. I should have done further research because only 1 of those things is the case.

Beaches – or lack thereof

The coastlines in Key West are not sandy beaches like you might picture. Because of where Key West sits in the Gulf of Mexico, it doesn’t really get large waves to create sandy beaches. Most of the beaches on the island of Key West are rocky and have a TON of seaweed (sargassum). If you want to get to the “pristine waters” you will need to go on a boat tour away from the island out to where there are smaller islands and reefs. Plan on hopping on snorkeling or eco-tour.


We took two different trips with Fury Water Adventures. Our first trip was a combo snorkel, kayak, and paddle-board trip, and our second trip was a snorkel trip to a reef. We enjoyed both trips but the snorkel-only (reef) trip was a much better place for snorkeling than our first trip.

Old Town Key West

Downtown or “old town” Key West was a fun place to visit. Since we have smaller kids, we only went down Duval street once and stayed more in the Mallory Square area and on Front Street. The Duval Loop is a free bus that will take you to most of the places you might want to visit. We parked in a paid parking garage and then rode the Duval Loop bus to the many places we visited in the Old Town area.

The Hemmingway house was a fun place to visit. It’s a very old home with a guided tour. We learned a lot about the personal life of Hemingway and got to see (and pet) dozens of the polydactyl cats that roam the property.

I do think it’s worth noting that Hemingway most likely had a lot of undiagnosed and untreated problems (PTSD, Chronic Pain, Alcoholism, etc.) which contributed to him ending his life at only 61.

Southern Most Point Key West

We visited the Southern Most Point (be prepared to stand in line to take your photo) and mile marker 0. While there is nothing “spectacular” about either of the landmarks, they are very much the “thing to do” while visiting Key West, Florida.

Other “Key” islands

pine key deer

We took a drive over to Big Pine Key to see a Nature Preserve. We saw several alligators and also several of the small Key Deers that roam around the island. The deer are everywhere! We stopped for dinner on Sugar Loaf key and ate at Mangrove Mama’s.

Key West Iguana

During our 8-day visit to Key West, we stayed at El Mar RV Resort on Stock Island. While this was a “no-frills” RV park (no laundry, no bathhouse, no pool, etc.) the views were fantastic. Our site was bordered by a seawall on 2 of 4 sides and we kept our front curtain open most of the time to soak up the views. El Mar is a smaller campground with only 11 sites – most of which are waterfront. If you have a kayak, jet ski, or paddleboard, you can launch right from the small dock at the campground. There are also iguanas everywhere! We watched several of them sunning themselves on the seawall around our campsite every day. Fiona, the campground host/manager was super friendly and gave us a lot of good tips for things to do and see in the area.

Overall thoughts: If we ever visit Key West again (which we probably will at some point) a few things we will do differently.

  1. Stay for 5 or so days instead of 8
  2. Book a trip on the Yankee Freedom to go to Dry Tortuga’s WAY in advance. I thought we would be able to book when we got there and they are booked two or more weeks in advance.
  3. Bring more bug spray!

Watch the first Key West video on YouTube:

rv key west
Watch on Youtube

Leave a Reply

  1. Simple and relaxing are my favorite. I can handle just sittin on the sea wall and lookin out at the horizon. I haven’t got young ones to entertain so sight seein and comin up with stuff to do isn’t a concern. It still thought y’all gave really good insight into what it was about ❤

  2. Sounds like a lot fun! And I am a sucker for those “roadside attraction” type things so my family would definitely be rolling their eyes and sighing as we stood in a line for pictures! ??‍♀️?

  3. Sounds like an interesting kind of trip but will be going just with my husband as both kids are grown and out of the house.

  4. Key West is on my bucket list – so happy to have a KOA to stay at when I make it there!! Looks beautiful.

  5. This is so cool! I have never been here but snorkeling sounds like so much fun! I had an accident and fell down some stairs on my honeymoon so being able to redo it and go here would be awesome! There looks like a ton of things to do.

  6. I’ll keep that in mind next time we go snorkeling!! Thanks for the info & for the chance! Would love to get away from unpacking our new home & go glamping!

  7. This is a trip that I would never be able to do without winning due to I am on disability and suffer from a illness that in a few years will leave me wheelchair bound as a single mother it leaves me on a tight budget and I have a grandmother who lives near here says it’s beautiful too

  8. My in-laws went to the Keys this past May. They loved it but said it’s definitely not a kid friendly vacation spot. My husband and I would love to go, he LOVES Hemingway books and is dying to see the house!

  9. The Florida Keys have always fascinated me and your profile compels we to make more of an effort to sort out a visit.

  10. I’ve never been to Florida but I’ve heard it’s beautiful and after seeing your vidoes and now this blog post I really want to go. Guess it’ll be my next big trip.

  11. We’re planning a trip next summer from WV to FL with lots of beachy camping in between! I appreciate your insight to camping in Key West! Snorkeling is definitely going on the list!

  12. Sounds like you all had a wonderful time and key west looks beautiful, I would love to go there one day.

  13. So awesome that you’re able to give your kids experiences like this! My goal as a future parent is to be able to do the same!(: experiences over stuff always!

  14. I’ve never been to key west and I live in Florida when I was a teen. Now I need to go back and make sure I go to the keys.

  15. I went to Key West as a kid on a family road trip, and really loved it. Would love to take my kids here now that I’m a parent! Thanks for this inspiring idea!

  16. Been to Florida a bunch of times over the years but haven’t ventured to Key West. Thanks for sharing your trip!

  17. I have been really wanting to visit the Keys my whole life. I think that is going to be our next vacation spot

  18. I love the Keys, my husband and I were most recently in Key Largo, but Key West is amazing. I love the Key Lime shop!

  19. I love traveling and making memories with our family! If it’s camping, day trips or those spur of the moments that make lifetime experiences! Love it!