Family beach vacations are always a blast, but any parent knows that not all beaches are the same. Beaches have their different strengths and depending on the type of holiday your family is looking for, some beaches may work better than others. Whether your family is on the search for a tranquil white-sand escape or an action-filled adventure, the Florida Keys have something for you.
Florida is known for its diverse beaches particularly in the Keys so narrowing down our list wasn’t easy! However, the following beaches are our top selections:
- John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park
- Sombrero Beach
- Smathers Beach
- Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park Beach
- Bahia Honda State Park
- Rest Beach
- Horseshoe Beach
In the rest of this article, we’ll explain exactly why these beaches made the list of our top picks as well as the key considerations for each. Once you’re finished reading, you’ll have all the information you need to plan your best family beach holiday yet.
1. John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park Beach
Key Largo is a big draw for many families headed to the Keys so make sure you stop by and see what all the fuss is about. Our suggestion is to head over to the Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, especially if your family is looking for some exciting activities. Snorkeling is popular here because of all the interesting aquatic life. So, we highly recommend trying it out.
You can also rent kayaks and paddle around the mangroves and if you’re in for a real adventure, be sure to look out for the reef sharks and alligators.
This beach is our top choice because of its beautiful wildlife which elevates the experience from a simple beach getaway to an educational nature expedition.
2. Sombrero Beach
Sombrero Beach is located in the Marathon region of the keys and is our top choice in the area. As the name may suggest, Sombrero beach offers some shady refuge which is why we love it. Of course, we go to the beach to soak up the sea and sun, but any parent knows that too much sun is never a good thing. To avoid those mid-afternoon energy crashes or evening sunburns, Sombrero beach has a wonderful, shaded area with picnic tables, a place to play volleyball, and even showers so your family can rest up, cool down, and clean off when needed.
Plus, Sombrero Beach has taken all the necessary accessibility measures so everyone can join in on the fun!
3. Smathers Beach
Smathers Beach is the quintessential Florida Keys getaway located in the heart of Key West. It boasts the classic Florida smooth white sands so you won’t find your kids burning their feet after an intensely sunny day. Smathers has turquoise waters and a long stretch of beach so your family can spread out. It’s also not too far from the hustle and bustle of Key West so you can drive into town for a delicious lunch if you need a break from the beach.
We particularly recommend Smathers beach if you have young children as the water stays shallow for quite a distance and thus, your kids can wade out for a while without worrying that the ocean will get too deep too quickly.
4. Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park Beach
Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park Beach is popular because of its location on the tip of the Keys. The fort itself has a rich history that provides an interesting activity for you and your children if you need a break from the sun and sand.
If you’re looking for a relaxing rest, you can rent a hut for the day to ensure you have shade if you need it. After snoozing in your shaded hut, be sure to rent some snorkel gear and see what the surrounding marine life has to offer. Snorkeling is particularly fruitful at this beach as it boasts some of the clearest water in Key West. Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park Beach is a top pick on our list because of all the activities it offers in addition to its beautiful scenery and fascinating history.
5. Bahia Honda State Park Beach
The Bahia Honda State Park Beach has white sand, turquoise water, and all sorts of fun to explore. This lower Florida Keys island is one of our favorites because it offers a real getaway. The long bridge makes you feel as though you’re out in the ocean on a paradise-like island.
Note that though the main beach has white sands, there can be areas with rocks so you may want to bring some water shoes along just in case. Also, because the beach is on its own island, there is an RV camping park tucked away. If your family is looking for a destination to drive to and sleep over, Bahia Honda State Park has it all.
6. Rest Beach
This beach is our favorite for the view. If your family is looking for a great background to pose in front of, the Rest Beach pier will do the job and do it well. In addition to the breathtaking views, Rest beach has soft white sand, so your kids won’t have to worry about messing around in bare feet. Plus, these sands are known for their beautiful shells so be sure to take a family walk together and do some shell searching.
7. Horseshoe Beach
Horseshoe Beach is another fabulous option for families in the Florida Keys. Its narrow shoreline means this particular beach is less frequented by sunbathers and your family will have some room to explore. The area is excellent for snorkeling and features some amazing wildlife both above and below the water. However, make sure you check the tides before you journey to Horseshoe Beach as some days are better for snorkeling than others.
Now that you know the ins and outs of Florida Keys beaches, it’s time to get packing!