The very concept of the road trip might have been invented for the Florida Keys – the string of low-slung islands that curls down from the main body of the state like a pretty tail. But before you set off, linger in Miami – a city which, for all its reputation as an unabashed party zone, has plenty of family entertainment. Miami Children’s Museum (£11) offers 14 galleries, including ‘Bank’, a six-foot piggybank where kids can design their own money, and a ‘Castle of Dreams’ built of sand.
From Miami, follow US Route 1 south until it becomes the ‘Overseas Highway’ – the 128-mile road that links the Keys, flitting over bridges and causeways. Key Largo, the northernmost of the islands, has immediate appeal in the form of John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, a protected area where you can go on a 90-minute snorkelling jaunt (adults £18; under-18s £15), or embark on a glass-bottom-boat ‘safari’ (adults £14, 4-11s £10) in search of the sea turtles that reside in the area.
The journey south becomes increasingly picturesque – especially at islets such as Conch Key and Little Duck Key. And the prize at the end, Key West, is no less appealing. Here, the likes of Smathers Beach and Rest Beach are safe for kids, and the Florida Keys Eco-Discovery Center (free) brings the local ecosystem vividly to life with touch screens and film presentations. Key West Airport offers flights back to Miami.