7 Budget-Friendly Things to Do in Key West
Visiting Key West doesn’t have to break the bank. There are lots of budget-friendly ways to see and do all of the things that make Key West stand out as a vacation spot. Here are some of the highlight activities, attractions, and restaurants to consider when planning your trip.
Book a Charter Fishing Trip
The fishing in Key West is legendary, and a charter fishing trip is one of the best ways to enjoy the sport.
What’s special about the waters around Key West is that it’s where ocean life moves between the Atlantic and the Gulf of Mexico, so there’s a great variety of fish. If a full-day excursion isn’t right for your family, consider a half-day trip for the reef, wreck, or deep-water fishing.
Depending on the time of year, you could catch grouper, tarpon, or cobia. Everything you need is provided by the captain and crew, from gear to fishing licenses and permits. You’ll need a packed lunch and sunscreen, and don’t forget your camera.
Taste The Best Key Lime Pie
Key lime pie is one of the most distinctive dishes associated with Key West. And one of the most fun places to get your own slice is Kermit’s Key West Key Lime Shoppe.
For more than 20 years, they’ve been serving up freshly baked pie as well as tasty dressings, jellies, salsas, and relishes. Check out the full cafe menu and breakfast all day; sit outside the shop and enjoy your pie on the patio next to the koi pond.
Sunset Celebration at Mallory Square
At the end of tree-lined Duval Street, there’s a gathering every night as the sun sets, and it’s called the Sunset Celebration. Musical performers, arts and crafts vendors, food vendors, and more join crowds of tourists and locals to wind down the day with a little boardwalk party. It’s a nice way to end the day or kick off the night if you have late dinner reservations. Get there early for a good spot on the boardwalk and an unobstructed view.
Spend some time before the Sunset Celebration window shopping the boutiques, art galleries, restaurants, and shops along Duval; you’ll find the picture-perfect clapboard buildings with gingerbread trim and whitewashed fences charming. After dark, the area lights up with restaurant and bar patrons enjoying food, drinks, and music.
At the Seaside Cafe and Bar, you can get a table just feet from the waves at what might be the most aptly-named restaurant in Key West. You can find it at the Southernmost House Mansion, and the menu features popular dishes with Southern regional inspiration, like honey-butter lobster biscuits and lobster Bianca pizza. This is a great celebration location for that one special night out while on vacation, with a wide selection of wine, champagne, and frozen drinks.
Snorkeling at Dry Tortugas National Park
While a bit of a splurge, snorkeling at Dry Tortugas is still a budget-friendly choice for a once-in-a-lifetime vacation experience because it’s a national park. There’s regular boat service from Key West to Dry Tortugas as it’s around 75 miles from the city.
There are coral reefs and shipwrecks for visitors to explore with snorkeling gear, along with beaches for swimming, kayaking, and walking trails. Consider making reservations for the ferry in advance to be sure you get a spot on your preferred day to visit the park.
Swimming at Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park
If a trip to Dry Tortugas is out of reach, you can have a similar day out at Fort Zachary Taylor State Park without ever leaving the island. Located in the southwest part of Key West, there’s a fort for touring and beaches for swimming. Kayakers and snorkelers are welcome to explore the waters surrounding the park. You can even climb to the top of the fort and take panoramic rooftop shots of seascapes and city skylines.
Dining Outdoors on Fresh Lobster Roll
At Eaton Street Seafood Market and Restaurant, you can order your pick of freshly caught seafood meals and dine on-site at shaded picnic tables. You’ll marvel at the cases full of fish and shellfish, and numerous house-made accompaniments and sauces.
It’s a great place to stop for lunch while spending time in Old Town Key West. If lobster isn’t your thing, go for one of the fried baskets or stone crab.
And the best part is, Eaton Street Seafood Market and Restaurant ships anywhere in the U.S., so you can recreate your favorite Key West seafood dishes long after you return home from your vacation.
Visiting Key West on a budget isn’t hard if you plan in advance where you’d like to go and what you’d like to do. There are lots of cultural, natural, and culinary attractions to enjoy across the city. Put together your itinerary before you go to minimize surprises and maximize your fun.