KeeKee's Big Adventures Family Travel Podcast
Florida Keys Family Vacation with Travel Mom Onaisa

Travel Mom Onaisa joins us with all the details from her Florida Keys Family Vacation and tips for traveling with three young children.

For more family vacation inspiration, check out all the podcast episodes. Adventure Awaits!

Florida Keys Family Vacation

Tell Us About Yourself

My family and I live in North Carolina, outside of Raleigh. We have three little ones, a six-year-old named Ava, a four-year-old named Noah, and a one-and-a-half-year-old named Micah. Life is a series of joyful and painful moments all at the same time. And family vacations are also the same.

Why did you pick a Florida Keys Family Vacation?

We went to the Keys for Spring Break. My husband is a great outdoorsman and wants us to go to every national park. So last fall began our journey of going to national parks as a family of five with a trip to the Smoky Mountains. And then, over spring break, we went to the two parks in Florida, Biscayne and Everglades, and our home base was Islamorada in the Keys.

My husband grew up with both of his parents as teachers, so his entire childhood was a series of adventures over the summer. He’s been to most of the national parks and wants to create that for our family.

Also, having an agenda to guide your family vacations is helpful because the world is a big place, and there’s so much to experience and so much to do. And this gives us a map to figure out what to do next because we have this goal in mind to guide us.

Florida Keys Family Vacation

Florida Keys Family Vacation

Tell us about your Florida Keys Family Vacation.

The hardest part of our trip was our travel day one, which made us very anxious about the six days to follow because we said, “oh no, what did we just sign up for?”

Last year we did an all-inclusive in Mexico, as at this stage, it’s probably the right thing to be immersing ourselves in all-inclusives, where everything’s kind of taken care of for you. But somehow, we forgot that and instead said, “Let’s embrace adventure and go from one place to another with hours in the car, kids in tow, hiking, airplanes, boats, and trains, and driving all involved.” So that’s what the spring break looked like.

My son had an ear infection, and the entire airplane got to experience the joys of that for a solid hour and a half.

We flew into Fort Lauderdale and rented a very large automobile, which was very convenient, and we drove down to the Keys. It’s really a beautiful drive, especially as you get farther away from the mainland, you’re just driving over all these bridges, and all you see is water everywhere. It’s just so glorious.

We stayed on Islamorada, which was a good location because we could go to Marathon, and it wasn’t too bad getting back up to Everglades and Biscayne.  There are lots of restaurants and great places to dine and a lot of little local parks to go to as well with beaches and playgrounds.

We stayed at the very family-friendly Lime Tree Bay Resort. It was right on the water. You could rent paddle boards and bikes and there’s a pool and it was perfect. If a kid needed to be inside napping, our balcony was on top of the water. A kid could be in the pool while we were one parent hanging back for the napping child. It was a great setup.

Dining out at this stage in our lives is challenging. While we do it, small wins like Uncrustables for lunches help and make car drives a little bit more enjoyable because they’re entertained and eating while we are driving.

April was a good time of year to go as it was warm with lows in the seventies, and the high was the eighties, and perfectly sunny every day.

Biscayne National Park

Everglades National Park

Florida Keys Family Vacation Day Trips & Activities

We spent a couple of days just hanging out at the beach and going to the pool. As I’ve come to learn, if there’s a pool, the children will be happy, and it does not matter what you do on vacation. All they’ll remember is that there was a pool.

One day we went to Theater of the Sea, a little north of Islamorada, essentially the Sea World of the Keys but smaller. There was like a dolphin show and the kids also really enjoyed it.

We made a day trip to Key Biscayne National Park, which is all water. We went on a boat ride, and so that was great. It was an hour and a half to an island, and we got to explore the island and the waters there were just so beautiful, pristine, and clear. There was a lighthouse, and my middle child has always wanted to climb a lighthouse, so he was able to do that, which was his highlight.

On the Everglades National Park visit, we went on two small hikes. The kids were just fascinated by us looking over into the swamps and seeing alligator after alligator, and the wildlife there was just amazing with reptiles, turtles, and cool birds.

Florida Keys Family Vacation

Florida Keys Family Vacation

Travel with Kids Tips

Maximize convenience whenever possible.

We rented a car from a budget-conscious car rental place. My husband stood in line for 45 minutes, and it looked like a solid two hours to go. So at that moment, he switched, and we got a car from another place. The kids were losing their minds, and we couldn’t wait any longer. It was not worth the cost savings.

food on the go is the way to go. Uncrustables were a lifesaver. The kids really enjoyed eating them. We didn’t have to fight about what was being consumed. So I highly recommend whatever packaged food could make your life easier.

Don’t force the kids to be on your timeline.

We wanted to do all these things on the trip but didn’t commit to doing any of them until the night before. My husband and I checked in each night to say, “How was the day? Do we think the kids are ready for this activity tomorrow?”

Because we could have done all those things, and they could have been miserable because the kids could have been exhausted and worn out. We thought we’d skip the Everglades because it might be too much, and we did it on our drive back to Fort Lauderdale on our travel day out.

Florida Keys Family Vacation

Why do you think it’s important to travel with your kids?

There’s so much to do and see in the world. I want to instill curiosity and a desire to learn, explore, and be adventurous in my children.

An adventure can be looking at worms in our backyard, hiking a mile from our house, or going to an exotic place. But traveling allows our children to see so much more than what they’re able to have exposure to daily.

Travel also forces us to be wholly together as a family. And we, of course, have our series of local adventures on a regular basis. But there’s always that “I’ve got to get go home and make sure I remember to do this, and I have to make sure I remember to do this.” But when traveling, you don’t do anything other than just be together.

And the goodness that comes from that doesn’t end when the vacation ends. It continues for weeks after.

As my son Noah says, his favorite family tradition is family vacations.  I think it just brings out the best of all of us because everyone is just really immersed in being together and wanting to experience something new together.

What’s the next trip you’re planning?

We’re going to Acadia National Park for two weeks over July 4th. We’ll be going to three different places, so Acadia’s kind of the destination and we’re flying in and out of Boston.

🌎  ✈️  🏝️ ☀️

Thank you for joining us, Onaisa!

For more family vacation inspiration, tune in to all the podcast episodes.  Adventure Awaits!