Even if your budget is pretty tight, that doesn’t mean you can’t vacation in a great place like Key West Florida. All it means is that maybe you need to plan your trip a little more carefully in order to maximize what you’ll get for your money.

Fortunately, much of what Key West has to offer is actually pretty affordable so once you get there – whether you drive for the fly – you’re all set up for a great vacation.

Sightseeing in Key West Florida

Check out Duval Street first, one of the best places to window shop and people watch.

The road is lined with small specialty stores, boutiques, and art galleries dotted with restaurants and cafes.

Grab an ice cream cone and make your way to Mallory Square by sunset. Every night as the sun goes down, Mallory Square becomes a party like no other. The Sunset Celebration welcomes tourists and locals who gather with musicians, artists, food and craft vendors, and more to say goodbye to the day.

Afterwards, grab a table at the Little Room Jazz Club for a drink and live music.

Other budget-friendly things to do include visiting Fort Zachary Taylor, where you can swim, bike ride, and tour the historic fort, and sunbathe at Smathers Beach, which is known for its sandy shore.

There are lots of museums, too, whether your interests lie in history, culture or pure adventure. Some of the most popular include

  • The Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum
  • The Mel Fisher Maritime Museum
  • The Truman Little White House
  • The USCGC Ingham Maritime Museum
  • The Key West Lighthouse and Keeper’s Museum.

That one is especially significant because you’re allowed to climb the steps to the top of the original lighthouse that warned sailing ships more than a hundred years ago.

Discover Great Seafood and More

When you’re in Old Town Key West, make a stop at Eaton Street Seafood Market and Restaurant. The menu features fresh fish and shellfish dishes prepared to eat on-site or taken to-go.

Don’t miss the fish sandwich, crab cakes or grilled lobster.

At Camille’s, you’ll get that familiar hometown diner feeling.

The extensive menu includes plenty of seafood dishes plus favourites like steak, chicken, and pasta for travelling companions who might not like seafood.

Dante’s Key West Pool Bar and Restaurant is a great choice for anyone who’s gone on a charter fishing trip. This restaurant has a cook-your-catch menu item where they’ll prepare any fish you’ve caught while on a chartered fishing boat expedition — grilled, fried or blackened.

A long-time favourite in Key West is Duetto’s, where you can get hand-made pizza pies made fresh just for you followed by the best gelato you’ve ever had.

And for a slice of from-scratch key lime pie you’ll never forget, visit Kermit’s Key West Key Lime Shoppe delivers. The shop also sells a variety of cafe food items, including breakfast all day long. Sit outside on their patio next to the koi pond for a relaxing break.

Get Back to Nature in Key West

Walkthrough the Key West Butterfly and Nature Conservatory to experience the wonder of delicate butterflies flitting freely. The entire space is screened in, giving the butterflies total freedom so you can watch them in action as they visit the tropical flowers that also grow here.

Twice a month, the Sheriff’s Animal Farm is open to the public. Here you’ll be able to see an array of common and uncommon animals who’ve been rescued from abuse and neglect or surrendered.

You may meet tortoises, lemurs, turtles, alligators, and emus, plus sheep, goats, horses, and birds. The city of Key West has its own aquarium and touch tank for hands-on exploration of sea life. You can also get close to sharks, turtles, fish, and birds.

And the Key West Tropical Forest and Botanical Garden offer you the chance to see native trees and plants you’ll find nowhere else, growing naturally. Pack a lunch and spend the day wandering the trails and birdwatching.

Another way to immerse yourself in nature is to go snorkelling. Key West has plenty of places to do that without ever leaving the island. For example, Fort Zachary Taylor State Park allows guests to snorkel off the beach.

If you’d like to splash out on a bigger adventure, book a trip on the ferry out to Dry Tortugas  National Park. Here, you can snorkel along coral reefs and shipwrecks.

The park even offers an exciting night snorkelling program so you can see nocturnal sea animals in their natural habitat. It’s a great adventure for new and experienced snorkelers to enjoy together. 

Vacationing in Key West doesn’t need to break the bank. With careful planning and prioritizing which excursions you’d like to do most and building your trip around that, it’s possible to have a wonderful island getaway without spending a fortune.

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