Maximize Your Entertainment Dollar On Land And Sea
For $49, The Key West Attractions Vacation Pass from the Key West Attractions Association is a good deal if youre planning to take a sail excursion, ride a trolley, take a Conch Train tour, visit a museum or the aquarium, or, well, drink.
The pass gives you two-for-one deals on excursions tickets and drinks, as well as discounts on activities and attractions that will make up the upfront cost in no time.
Pro Tip: Thinking of doing a snorkel trip, renting jet skis or going parasailing? Do all three for one price with Fury Water Adventures Ultimate Adventure outing. At $125 for adults and $90 for kids, its cheaper than paying for all these activities separately, and the six-hour catamaran cruise includes playtime on a floating inflatable water park in the middle of the Key West Bight, plus two meals and drinks.
Free rides, free fun, and two-for-one drinks and cruises those are the keys to a budget-friendly trip to Key West!
Bob Curley is a travel writer specializing in New England, the Caribbean and beach destinations around the world. He writes for AFAR, Coastal Living, TripSavvy.com, Wedding Style, Business Travel and many other publications.
Ready to stop worrying about money?
Get the Penny Hoarder Daily
How To Plan A Key West Vacation While Staying Within A Budget
Key West is a vacation that can be planned within a budget, and its size and options make it the perfect place to save money.
Key West isn’t the most affordable place in Florida but that doesn’t mean it can’t be done on a budget. There are some tricks to planning a bank account-friendly vacation to Key West that will help travelers save some bucks while also enjoying a sunshine-filled trip. With some smart strategizing, pre-planning, and knowing where to spend money in this gorgeous seaside city, travelers will be booking flights before they know it.
And, in case anyone was wondering, going to the beach isn’t the only free activity that can be done in the Sunshine State. Even the food can be affordable if vacationers know where to look and how to plan, and it’s far simpler than one might think. Planning this Key West vacation is about to be a breeze with some simple hacks that will keep your money in the right places.
Why Dont We Get Drunk And Screw
Believe it or not, Key West can be quite a romantic place, especially at The Marker Key West. Sure, the town has a bad reputation for public drunkenness, wild pub crawls, public nudity, young spring breakers, old spring breakers, homeless people, and all of the above walking around barefoot.
Fun Activities to Ignite the Romance
But, if you spend your days doing whatever it is that tickles your pickle or ruffles your truffles, youre sure to have a romantic time. Here are some ways to ignite the romance:
- Eating breakfast in bed or on your balcony
- Mangrove kayak eco-tour
After a fun and charming day full of these romantic activities you might hear these seven sweet wordswhy dont we get drunk and screw?
Don’t Miss: Good Places To Stay In Panama City Beach
Upper Keys Affordable Dining
In the Upper Keys, Mrs Macs Kitchen are really delicious and affordable. They even do breakfast beverage specials in case some champagne with breakfast sounds nice. Hobos Cafe is another good option up on Key Largo.
Weve enjoyed several meals at Skippers Dockside and find the kids options and dinner entrees to be a good value and theyre delicious. Also, in our pursuit of the best key lime pie in the Florida Keys, we awarded the title to Skippers Dockside for having a perfect slice thats not too sweet, awesome molasses crumb crust and perfect meringue topping.
Kayaking In The Florida Keys
The cheapest way to get on the water in the Florida Keys is to arrive with your own kayaking gear. There are lots of wonderful spots to put in and beautiful, unique paddling trails.
Be careful when you launch that you stay out of the strong currents going between certain channels. You can tell where the current is strong because the water really does flow past quickly. For the safest experience, paddle out from your launch point and then turn to where you want to go versus just paddling along the shore until youre near a channel.
Kayak launch site map link here.
If you dont have your own gear, renting kayaks can be pretty inexpensive and totally worth it. You can expect hourly kayak rentals in the Florida Keys to range from $12 per hour within the state parks to $28 per hour for kayaks delivered to a variety of launch points.
Kayak Tours in the Florida Keys
If you would like to go on a kayaking tour in the Florida Keys, thatll both give you a great experience with lots of information and tried and true routes as well as added safety thanks to a knowledgeable guide.
Guided tours are typically available within the state parks or busier marinas . Key West has the most options for guided kayaking, and there are some good deals that fit with most budgets.
You May Like: Top 10 Places To Stay In New Orleans
The Best Area To Stay In Key West
Duval Street in the heart of downtown Key West.
As the southernmost city in the continental United States, Key West combines sun, culture, and positive energy with an off-the-grid feel. At less than eight square miles, the island is easy to explore, divided between contemporary, residential New Town and character-rich, historic Old Town. The latter is by far where visitors will spend the majority of their time with several neighborhoods that frequently blend together and borders that arent always easy to identify.
With that in mind, Old Town is the best area to stay, whether its a charming bed-and-breakfast in the Heart of Old Town or a more luxurious hotel in and around Downtown, Casa Marina, or the Historic Seaport. No matter where you stay, Old Town is easy to navigate on foot, the free Duval Loop bus shuttle, or the Old Town Trolley Tours with unlimited reboarding all day long. Ride-sharing services are another inexpensive option for getting around and with parking tight, its best to leave any car back at the hotel.
Cheap Camping Florida Keys
TLRD Paid 24-hour parking lots!
The best cheap camping we found was in parking lots. We found one 24-hour lot on Simonton St & Green / Dey St in Key West that let us stay for $15/day for 3 nights. I cant guarantee that they will always allow this, since the owner said hed be fined $250 if the city caught us, but we were able to make it work for a few days, and even pop the camper as we slept in it. We spent the days swimming and working at Fort Zachary Taylor , and used their beach showers / restrooms.
If you ask around, you can find some businesses and individuals who allow people to stay in their parking lots or properties cheaply, but this is very case-by-case, so you need to be in the Keys and making friends to find the opportunities.
Recommended Reading: Places To Stay In Hollywood Beach Florida
In Search Of Budget Key West Restaurants
Key West is foodie heaven, with prices to match. Finding good buys in restaurants will take some planning: You may not stumble across these places when you get hungry unless you keep a map handy.
One tip for dining in Key West is to make your main evening meal a tasty assemblage of half-price happy hour appetizers.
An especially good place for happy hour is the historic Key West Seaport. The boardwalk along the harbor is one of the best free activities in Key West. Folks are feeding tarpon from the docks, fishing charters are displaying their catches and all the colorful yachts and historic ships are on display, with flags snapping.
Many harbor restaurants have happy hours, but I can especially recommend Alonzos Oyster Bar, 700 Front St., Key West. All drinks and an extensive selection of appetizers are half price from 5 to 6:30 p.m. and its easy to make a meal of it. We sat outside overlooking the harbor in a setting that didnt compromise on atmosphere.
Another seaport restaurant, Turtle Kraals, 231 Margaret St., offers food specials during happy hour.
After you eat dinner at happy hour, head to a vantage point for sunset. Afterwards, you can enjoy a late-night Cuban sandwich, conch fritters or an arepa at a variety of inexpensive, atmospheric Key West eateries where you order food at a counter and eat at a picnic table or bench.
A few good examples:
For an air-conditioned restaurant with table service, we can suggest two classic Key West spots:
Oceans Edge Resort & Marina
If you want to stay at one of the most upscale resorts in Key West then the Oceans Edge Resort is your place.
The property has incredible rooms and suites, swimming pools, various restaurants, water activities, and truly beautiful views. Downtown is just a short shuttle ride away.
The waterfront dining and bars are a special staple of the Oceans Edge Resort. The patios for dining are truly beautiful, and the fish is all served fresh, right off the boat.
Every single room has ocean views! This is one of the best resorts in Key West because the rooms are so new the property was recently built in 2017.
There are various types of rooms available, from single rooms to mini condos. The decor is very high end , though each compound features slightly different decor.
The Oceans Edge has six heated swimming pools with ultra-comfortable lounge chairs. I definitely recommend making use of the pools because there isnt a beach within walking distance.
The resort is only a short drive away from Duval Street. However, you can also rent golf carts to get around.
I really love how the Oceans Edge Resort is off the beaten path. It has a quiet vibe and feels more like your classic tropical resort than other resorts in Key West.
GoodFor: Anyone who wants a high end resort property.
Recommended Reading: Best Places To Stay In New Orleans Garden District
What Are The Popular Point Of Interests Near Where I Can Stay When Traveling To Key West
Vrbo offers a large selection of vacation rentals near lovely places in Key West. From Vrbo travelers, the top most popular points of interest to stay for a holiday trip or just for a weekend are:
- Key West Golf Club: 2,054 vacation rentals
- Mallory Square: 1,869 vacation rentals
- Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary: 1,868 vacation rentals
- Harry S. Truman Little White House: 1,869 vacation rentals
- Mel Fisher Maritime Museum: 1,869 vacation rentals
But there are many other points of interest around Key West listed on Vrbo where you can find your place to stay. Please use our search bar to access the selection of vacation rentals available near the point of interest of your choice.
Hostels In The Old Town
A Hostel in the Old Town is another option for a cheap stay.
In the old town, you will find a few hostels and bunk-sharing accommodation options tailored to suit the needs and financial abilities of low-budget travelers.
The location also gives you access to affordable eateries like . This is a simple fusion cuisine restaurant that offers large quantities of delicious meals at really great prices.
If the budget is really tight I suggest using the common kitchen and stock at Faustos Food Palace, not the cheapest supermarket but, considering the distance from the mainland, its not that bad.
Seashell Motel and International Hostel is located in the Old Town district of Downtown Key West and offers great value for low-budget trips.
You have access to a beautiful outdoor shared lounge with dining spaces and a hammock.
The rooms are air-conditioned and feature partitioned bunks for privacy.
Alternatively, consider turning your trip into a camping one to save money. In this case, Boyds Key West Campground is the best option.
Read Also: Where Is The Best Place To Stay In Memphis
Florida Keys Vacation Rentals And Airbnbs
Because the Florida Keys is such a fun, desirable destination, booking a vacation rental or AirBNB in the Keys may be more complicated. Minimum night stays are very common and accommodations for just a couple vs a family are more difficult to find.
As you search for vacation rentals in the Florida Keys youll typically find multiple rooms for multiple nights, making any booking several hundred dollars. Unless youre a large family that would normally get two or more hotel rooms, youll be spending significantly more each night for a vacation rental in the Keys.
Planning a group trip is really smart though and perfect to turn a trip into an affordable Florida Keys vacation on a budget friendly trip. Between being able to split the cost of a Florida Keys vacation rental AND being able to split the cost of tour charters youll be able to lower the total cost per family significantly!
Inexpensive Middle Keys Restaurants
Apparently we eat a lot of Cuban food when were in the Florida Keys, because as I went through our top picks weve got several. Habanos Oceanfront Restaurant is our first pick. Its not fancy but its delicious and also one of the least expensive meals weve had anywhere in the Keys. Get the Midnight Cuban sandwich because its the best.
Like how there are two Mrs Macs Kitchen locations, another good affordable dining option in the Florida Keys is the Square Grouper. They have a location in Islamorada and one in the Lower Keys on Cudjoe Key. For lunch youll find a good selection of apps and paninis that are budget friendly, but when its dinner the menu elevates and moves into the more fine-dining zone.
How can you drive past a place called What the Fish?! You cant. For being fresh caught fish , theyve got pretty good prices for all kinds of sandwich rolls. Heading south along the Overseas Highway, the next affordable dining we like is the Midway Cafe. Its really wonderful with great key lime pie and nice outdoor seating.
As you get to Marathon youll find lots of options, including a super yummy Cuban cafe with awesome deli counter style dishes: Paradise Cuban Restaurant. Theyve got great Cuban pastries and lunch dishes and are a top pick of ours for inexpensive breakfast or lunch.
Read Also: Where To Stay In Kanab
Best Hotels In Key West For All Budgets
Planning a vacation in Key West and looking for Key West hotels? Look no further, we have the perfect article for you. We will walk you through where to stay in Key West, hotels in Key West near Duval Street, and Key West accommodations for every budget. The hotels we have picked have a customer rating above 8/10, so you know that they are all great hotels.
Key West is the southernmost point in the USA and is actually closer to Cuba than it is Miami. The drive to Key West is an epic trip that everyone should do once. 42 bridges link Key West to the mainland with the pretty amazing 7-mile bridge. If you want to make the most of the drive from Miami to Key West here are 16 Best Stops On Your Miami To Key West Drive.
The temperature in Key West is tropical, with 70s and 80s in the winter months. The best time to visit is March and May when the temperatures are good and the prices tend to be cheaper. Key West is an expensive place to live and visit, so the cheap hotels in Key West may seem more like moderate pricing to you.
The island is tiny, only four miles long and two miles wide, with the historic old town taking up over half this area. Saying that though, this tiny island packs a punch and you will always find something to do.
Its a place that also has a lot of history and some lovely colonial properties we have even found you a few you can stay in.
Its also a great place to get on your bike to explore as its so small and you cant get lost.
Beach On The Southern Shore
This is home to Key Wests best beaches including South Beach and Smathers Beach.
This makes it perfect if you are looking exclusively for some fun in the sun and sand.
It is also home to a few really nice resorts that offer you a chance to stay as close to the water as possible.
And, after all, you are only a 5 minutes taxi ride from the old town
Also Check: Top Hotels To Stay In New Orleans
Unique Camping Experiences Florida Keys Dry Tortugas
We werent able to do this because we couldnt leave our bunny, but we would love to have taken the ferry or a private vessel to Dry Tortugas National Park and camped there. According to the National Park Service, Camping at Garden Key is an incredible experience with amazing star gazing, snorkeling, sunsets, and more! But you must be prepared to camp in this remote location. To assist you in your planning, be sure to review the information on this page to learn more about camping at Dry Tortugas National Park. The camping fee is cheap , however you have to pay for the ferry or a private vessel there and back, which are a little pricier.
As always, if you have other suggestions, feel free to reach out!