I received tickets to these attractions in exchange for an honest review. The opinions are my own.
We had a jam-packed summer, but there was one thing we just had to do before the school year began. Last spring, Lydia was watching a fishing show on TV, and during the commercials, there was an advertisement for the Key West Aquarium. Lydia said we just had to go there! So a week before school began, we took a trip south for some family fun in Key West. Before heading to the aquarium, we had a delicious conch-filled lunch. When in Key West, you must conch! Conch fritters, cracked conch, conch salad… whatever you can get your hands on. It’s delicious.
Next up, the Key West Aquarium. In all the years I’ve lived in Florida and all the times I’ve traveled to the Keys, I have never been to the Key West Aquarium. It’s a really fun place to visit. When you first walk in, there’s a huge touch tank with urchins, snails, hermit crabs, horseshoe crabs, and lots of other fun critters to see and touch.
If you walk to the right, you enter a large mangrove area. In this water, there are sea turtles, tarpon, and several other varieties of fish and sea life. This section is very representative of what you may see visiting the beaches of the Florida Keys.
After that, we headed out back to find a large pool of rays. The coolest part? You can reach in and touch them. The kids were really excited (and perhaps a bit scared at first). But they each got the chance to feel the rays and talk about the experience.
Between the aquarium and the open sea is an area with large sharks. There are multiple species of sharks native to the Florida Keys, including the very popular and often seen nurse sharks. It was fun to watch the shark feeding and learn about the different species.
Throughout the main hallway, surrounding the pools in the middle (like the touch area and smaller shark area) are individual fishtanks that represent all different areas of the undersea ecosystem. Years ago, before having children, Richard and I were very into building our saltwater aquarium with living coral. Here’s a beautiful display of live coral at the aquarium.
After visiting the Key West Aquarium, we headed over to the Key West Shipwreck Treasures Museum (or as we called it, the pirate museum). I’ve got to admit, I knew little about the history of shipwrecks in Key West, but it was actually a big part of a very thriving economy.
We received a guided tour of the museum, learning all about the different types of artifacts that were found after ships wrecked off the coast of Key West. Coins, silver bars, jars, jewelry, etc. were all removed from the ships and sold.
While I generally have a respectful fear of heights, I bravely took the stairs up to the look-out tower and really enjoyed the view. From the top of the museum, you can see all of Key West. Check out this view!
We ended our trip the next morning with the Key West Conch Tour Train. We sat right at the front of the train to get a great look at all Key West has to offer. The guided educational tour taught us so much about the rich culture, history, and architecture of new and old Key West.
As the weather begins to get cooler throughout the rest of the country, you may just need to escape down to tropical and historic Key West for a fun-filled family trip! Oh, and while you’re there, I must make one more recommendation – get the chocolate-covered Key lime pie on a stick. You own’t regret it. It’s freakin’ amazing… so amazing, I didn’t even get a chance to photograph it.