The Florida Keys are full of attractions that can make vacation days together absolutely unforgettable for parents, kids, grandparents and extended families.

Turtle Hospital tour Marathon Key

Visitors to the Middle Keys can tour Marathon’s Turtle Hospital, the world’s first state-certified veterinary hospital for sea turtles, as part of the “Kids Free” program. (Photo by Andy Newman, Florida Keys News Bureau)

And from Sept. 3-30, the Key West Attractions Association has a special invitation for families: explore the island chain’s attractions, tours, watersports and other offerings with a value-added program that provides free admission for every kid age 12 or younger who’s accompanied by a paying adult.

Just visit the association’s KidsFreeFloridaKeys website to discover values offered by restaurants, attractions, tours, museums and more. There you’ll find a wide range of family-friendly activities, with links to participating Keys businesses and information about their offerings.

The featured attractions and other spots include Marathon’s Turtle Hospital, where kids can meet rescued sea turtles regaining their health at the world-class facility … the Key West Butterfly & Nature Conservatory, where visitors walk among hundreds of living butterflies in a breathtaking rainforest-like setting … and Pigeon Key, a tiny historic island nestled beneath the Old Seven Mile Bridge, which was home to workers constructing Henry Flagler’s Over-Sea Railroad in the early 1900s.

Also featured is one of the first family-friendly attractions in the Keys: the Key West Aquarium that opened in 1934. Unique and inviting, the aquarium houses tropical fish, moray eels, grouper, tarpon and more. Kids can even pet a shark or interact with small sea creatures in a touch tank.

And when it comes to tours, the offerings are just as intriguing. For example, families can get a bird’s-eye view of Key West and its surrounding waters on an Air Adventures Helicopter Tour, explore the southernmost island aboard the world-famous Conch Train — or discover the continental United States’ only living coral barrier reef, which parallels the Keys, on a glassbottom boat eco-tour.

In addition to the many “Kids Free” offerings, during a visit to the Florida Keys families can immerse themselves in plenty of outdoor and water activities. For example, snorkeling at Key Largo’s John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, the world’s first underwater park … feeding huge wild tarpon from a dock at Robbie’s Marina in Islamorada … taking a fishing trip and then dining on the catch in a local restaurant … or simply building sandcastles on a beach beside the Atlantic Ocean.

kid snorkeling Florida Keys

For both kids and grownups, exploring the marine environment surrounding the Florida Keys is a must during a visit to the island chain. (Photo by Stephen Frink)

Nature-loving families can try spotting Key deer, an endangered species that lives only in the Lower Keys. These shy, appealing creatures are about the size of a large dog and can be found grazing, especially around Big Pine Key, during early morning hours and at dusk. To learn more about Key deer and other native species, visit the National Key Deer Refuge Visitor Center on Key Deer Boulevard in the Big Pine Key Shopping Center.

And after a day packed with fun, the free nightly sunset celebration at Key West’s Mallory Square is a must-see event. “Going to sunset” is an island tradition that draws hundreds of people to experience the carnival-like atmosphere featuring street performers and artisan booths. Adults and kids gather on the waterfront square to applaud tightrope walkers, jugglers and animal acts — and the fiery sun settling into the Gulf of Mexico.

For families and extended families of all kinds, a world of activities awaits in the Florida Keys. And there’s no better time to visit than in September 2018 to take advantage of the Key West Attractions Association’s value-added “Kids Free” program.

Want to know more about the great experiences families can share in the island chain? Just click here and begin exploring.