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Budget-Friendly Guide to Key West

fish, catch, box

You’ll never regret traveling, even if you have a slim travel budget. That’s why a destination like Key West is so great. Compared to a lot of other places, you get a lot of bang for your buck and you will have the experience of a lifetime. Whether you choose to fly into Key West or Miami and then make the drive south, it’s possible to plan an itinerary for even the tightest budget without feeling like you’re missing out. Here’s what to add to your list of things to do.

Top Tourist Stops

Even if you’re only window-shopping, Duval Street is a can’t-miss. There are so many intriguing boutiques, art galleries, jazz clubs, landmarks, and more. Just strolling these charming streets is enough to give you a real feel for the history and culture of Key West. As the sun goes down, make sure you’re at Mallory Square, where the Sunset Celebration kicks off every night. You’ll be joined by fellow visitors as well as local residents for this family-friendly and all-ages party. Keep the good times going with a drink and live music at the Little Room Jazz Club.

Spend the day at Fort Zachary Taylor, which is a local state park with a wide range of activities for visitors to enjoy. There’s a historic fort where you can enjoy a tour. There’s also a beach for swimming and a jetty for fishing. The water is clean and clear for snorkeling and swimming. And there are hiking and biking trails, too. Key West also has several public beaches that are open to visitors, including Smathers, which is popular for its ribbons of sand. 

Among the museums and cultural attractions, consider visiting Truman’s Little White House, the Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum, the Key West Lighthouse and Keeper’s Quarters, and the Mel Fisher Maritime Museum. 

Taste the Freshest Seafood

In Old Town Key West, Eaton Street Seafood Market and Restaurant is a great stop. If you are able and interested in preparing your own meals at your lodgings, you can pick up your choice of fresh-caught seafood to prepare yourself. Or take your meals to go and let the experts at Eaton’s do the cooking for you. Among the most popular menu items are the fish tacos, lobster roll, and conch fritters.

If you head out for a fishing charter with All In Fishing Charters and make the catch of a lifetime, many restaurants will cook your catch for a small fee. Your choices are usually blackened, grilled or broiled, and the dish is typically served family-style. Among the other great restaurant options are Little Pearl, Duetto’s Pizza and Gelato, Kermit’s Key West Key Lime Shoppe, and Blue Heaven. Regardless of where you go to eat, make sure you get a chance to try the island’s famous key lime pie.

Get In Touch with Nature

For a small island, you might be surprised to learn how many ways there are to discover the natural world in Key West. Time your visit to coincide with the open hours of the Sheriff’s Animal Farm and you can get up close with an impressive array of animals, including lemurs, alligators, horses, sheep, birds, tortoises, and emus. At the local aquarium, enjoy the touch tank, and at the Key West Tropical Forest and Botanical Garden, try bird watching as you walk among one of the most expansive collections of native plants allowed to thrive in their natural habitats. 

Get the experience of a lifetime with a visit to Dry Tortugas National Park. It’s only a ferry ride away from the city of Key West but offers exciting opportunities to go snorkeling, kayaking, birdwatching, and swimming, too. The ferry books quickly though, so it’s important to reserve your spot as soon as you begin making plans to visit Key West.

Many museums have quite reasonable admission fees, too, and there are so many here on Key West that you can be assured of finding one or more that appeal to you. Consider the Mel Fisher Maritime Museum if you’re into salvaging sunken treasure or Truman’s Little White House if American History is your passion. Climb to the top of the Key West Lighthouse Museum for one-of-a-kind views, and pay a visit to the keepers’ quarters next door to see how these essential workers kept ships’ cargo and crew safe in even the most dangerous sea conditions.

Just because you’re going on vacation to Key West, which feels like a luxurious tropical island, you don’t need to blow your entire travel fund. There are lots of things to do that won’t drain your budget while still offering you memorable experiences and lots of enjoyment. Use these ideas to create an itinerary that feels exciting while still respectful of your resources.

Infographic created by Clover Network – a pos systems company
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