TRAVEL
08/09/2011 04:38 pm ET Updated Oct 09, 2011

Family Vacations in Key West: A Huffington Post Travel Guide

Family vacations in Key West can be rewarding experiences or absolute disasters -- it all depends on pre-trip homework. To make planning easier, we've done all the preparation. As part of a Huffington Post Travel series on traveling with children, here are recommended attractions for those planning Key family vacations.

The Beach at Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park


Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park claims its beach is Key West's "best beach," offering a beautiful view of the iconic Key West sunset from the harbor. This beach park is a National Historic Landmark and Florida's southernmost state park. In addition to the wide array of recreational opportunities, the park is loaded with history -- the fort played strong roles in the Civil War and the Spanish-American War.

Address: 601 Howard England Way, Key West, FL 33040
Phone: 305-292-6713
Hours: The park is open from 8 a.m. until sundown year-round
Price: $6 per vehicle (two to eight people); $2 for pedestrians, bicyclists, extra passengers, passengers with Annual Individual Entrance Pass; $4 for single-occupant vehicle and motorcycles

Key West Toy Factory


Key West Toy Factory is a one-of-a-kind toy store packed with hundreds of toys that will captivate kids and make older visitors nostalgic for their younger years. The factory contains wooden cars and trucks, games, puzzles, crafts, books and a magic shop. Another fascinating attraction here is the interactive Imagineering Workshop - full of fun things to build, create and play with.

Address: 291 Front St., Key West, FL 33040
Phone: 305-296–0003
Hours: Open daily, 8:30 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Price: Free admission

Mallory Square


Mallory Square is a hub of activity in Key West with a colorful history. It is home to local seafood and other restaurants, shops, art galleries and boutiques. In the evenings, visitors and locals gather here for the world-famous Sunset Celebration. Street performers and food vendors entertain and feed the crowds.

Address: 1 Whitehead St., Key West, FL 33040
Phone: 305-294-2587 (Key West Chamber of Commerce)
Hours: Open daily; store and restaurant hours vary
Price: Free admission

Key West Aquarium


Key West Aquarium boasts the unique status of home to animals that can only be found in the beautiful local waters. Families will find sharks, turtles, stingrays, tropical fish, game fish and more. Visitors can watch the daily feedings, and the "safe touch" tanks offer kids and their parents the opportunity to pet sea creatures like starfish and sharks.

Address: 1 Whitehead St., Key West, FL 33040
Phone: 305-296-2051
Hours: The aquarium is open 365 days a year, rain or shine, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tour times and feedings are at 11 a.m., 1 p.m., 3 p.m. and 4:30 p.m.
Price: Adults, $15.05 or online price of $13.95; children ages 4-12, $6.45 or $4.95 online price; children ages 3 and under, free

Mel Fisher Maritime Museum


The Mel Fisher Maritime Museum holds "the largest single collection of 17th-century maritime and shipwreck antiquities in the Western Hemisphere," according to TripAdvisor. Visitors interested in sunken treasures, shipwrecks and pirates will enjoy this attraction, which displays artifacts and treasures from the Santa Margarita and Atocha shipwrecks. Be sure to check out the loot, from doubloons to bars of solid gold.

Address: 200 Greene St., Key West, FL 33040
Phone: 305-294-2633
Hours: Open 365 days a year. Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Saturday, Sunday and holidays, 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Price: Adults, $12.50; students, $10.50; children, $6.25

Conch Tour Train


Since 1958, the Conch Tour Train has been offering family fun and excitement with a dose of 400 years of history in Key West. Climb aboard and its staff will delight you with tales of this tropical paradise, including stories about Ernest Hemingway. You'll get a great overview of many of Key West's attractions.

Address: 1805 Staples Ave., Suite 101, Key West, FL 33040
Phone: 888-916-8687
Hours: Train tours depart at least every 30 minutes, from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. daily. When demand rises, the frequency is increased. The train tours are closed the last Saturday in October because of Fantasy Fest. Schedules are subject to change, so call 888-916-8687 for the most current information.
Price: Adults, $29 (online price, $26.10); children ages 12 and under, free; military and seniors ages 62 and older, $26 (online price, $23.40)

The Key West Butterfly and Nature Conservatory


Enter the "magical world of butterflies" at the Key West Butterfly and Nature Conservatory, a climate-controlled, glass-enclosed, habitat teeming with 60 butterfly species and 20 exotic bird species. You'll be surrounded by flowering plants, rushing waterfalls and tall trees. The conservatory has been voted the No.1 attraction in Key West by People's Choice Awards and TripAdvisor.

Address: 1316 Duval St., Key West, FL 33040
Phone: 305-296-2988 or 800-839-4647
Hours: Conservatory hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. The last ticket is sold 30 minutes before closing. Gift shop and gallery hours are 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. daily
Price: Adults, $12; children ages 4-12, $8.50; under 4 years old, free; seniors and military, $9

What are your favorite vacation spots in Key West?

Check out more FAMILY VACATION GUIDES.