While Key West can certainly be an expensive destination if you’re not careful, it doesn’t have to be. You can easily plan a budget friendly Key West vacation without forfeiting amazing experiences with memories that will last a lifetime. Read on for a few tips to minimize expenses and maximize your fun while seeing all the best sites in Key West on a budget.
To drive or to fly?
If you’re coming from South Florida, this is the first place to cut your costs. Save money on airfare and opt for the scenic drive down the Overseas Highway, which takes about three and a half hours from Miami. Flights into Key West can sometimes be expensive, but they still beat the cost of flying to the Caribbean, and you can enjoy all the feel good island vibes in Key West without the hassle of customs.
Save on accommodations
The number one place to save money on your Key West vacation is budget-friendly accommodations. In Key West, hotel rates vary widely based on the time of year you visit. From now until Fantasy Fest at the end of October, Key West hotels and resorts will be offering the lowest rates of the year because this time is considered low season. You can score rates as low as 50 percent off. Instead of booking at one of the big harborfront resorts, consider a charming bed and breakfast. These are abundant throughout Key West’s Old Town and are typically priced at a fraction of the cost. You’ll get a more local experience, plus breakfast is included in the nightly rate, so that’s one less meal you’ll have to pay for. Look for deals at the Lighthouse Inn, Blue Bottle Inn and the relatively new NYAH hotel, which offers convertible rooms that sleep up to six people comfortably.
Bike rentals > Car Rentals
If you flew into town, don’t even think twice when it comes to car rentals. They’re totally unnecessary in Key West. Parking is expensive and hard to find, and it’s much easier and more pleasant to get around Key West by bike. Many hotels and bed and breakfasts offer specials on bike rentals, so be sure to ask your concierge when you book. Otherwise, there are plenty of spots offering bike rentals throughout the island. If you’re staying in New Town, make sure your hotel offers a complimentary shuttle into town. If not, you’re going to rack up a hefty taxi tab that would be better spent on accommodations in Old Town.
Eat & Drink on the Cheap
Fortunately, there are plenty of places in Key West to enjoy an inexpensive meal and drink. For casual lunch spots with plenty of local color, consider La Creperie, Bad Boy Burrito and Fisherman’s Cafe for the best afternoon Cuban coffee. If you order right, you can score lunch for around $10 at these spots. For dinner, restaurants like Caroline’s, Jack Flats and Fogarty’s offer huge portions and lots of tasty menu options, all at reasonable prices. As far as drinks go, Key West’s most beloved bar, The Green Parrot, is affordably priced with great live music.
The Beach is free & so are the sunsets
One of the biggest attractions of Key West is its natural beauty and the good news is it’s free. The southern edge of the island is lined with great beaches to while away the day. For a small price, you can enjoy your beach day at Fort Zachary Taylor State Park, which offers nature trails, a snack bar and a Civil War fort to explore. Sunsets in Key West are world famous and you can enjoy them along with live entertainment for free at Mallory Square every night.
Spend the day on the water and save
With the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean lapping against Key West’s shores and the world’s third largest coral reef just seven miles offshore, it would be a shame to come all that way and not experience Key West from the water. The Ultimate Adventure is an all day trip that includes breakfast, lunch and all you can drink, along with snorkeling, parasailing, jet skiing and a variety of watersports, all for about $140. When you book online, you can save 10 percent off the regular price.