The Florida Keys

Our Take on Planning and Budgeting your Best Key West Adventure Ever!!

I don’t know how John and I packed in so much fun into just 3 nights and 2 days in Key West but we did and we learned a few things in doing so. If you have never been to Key West and are thinking about planning a vacation there, then read on to hear about some of the things we learned on our adventure and what we will plan different for next time.

Getting Around in Key West

We arrived at our condo about a half hour before check in time so we decided to drive around the Island and check things out. This drive convinced us right away that we did not want to do too much driving in Key West. Roads are narrow throughout and with cars, scooters, bikes and pedestrians coming at you in all different directions? and very little parking? Nope – We decided if we can’t walk it, then we would taxi cab it.

I found that the condo we booked, although very nice indeed, was not in reasonable walking distance to the places we wanted to visit and is probably why the cost of the stay was priced lower than others I looked at when booking. I find that it is important to bring this up because some of the dollars we saved in our per night stay, we ended up spending on transportation and time. So I would advise anyone planning and budgeting a Key West vacation to keep this in mind. If you do use a taxi service budget in at least $20 per 1 way trip, not including tip. We tried to keep our transportation expenses down by doing only 1 round trip per day which meant leaving the condo in the morning and not going back until late in the evening. I am sure not something everyone would be comfortable with.

There are other methods of getting around in Key West other than your own vehicle or cab/Uber. The Old Time Trolley Tour may be a good option but only if one of the stops is within a reasonable walking distance from your lodging. Another option is the free Duval- Loop Bus but again if the stops are not within walking distance from your lodging then this option is only good for getting around once you are already in the Duval Street area.

Golf cart type vehicles, scooters and bicycle rentals are also very popular as a means of transportation in Key West, but remember if renting a golf cart type of vehicle you still have to find a place to park it and parking is not always free. Parking a scooter or bicycle is much easier, however, with the traffic and narrow streets, this option is not for the faint of heart. One of our cab drivers told us that someone on a scooter or bicycle gets seriously injured in Key West everyday.

So my take on getting around in Key West is simple. Spend more to stay near the things you want to do and see and plan to walk, walk, walk, (within reason of course). You will end up saving in the long run and you will have a more relaxing and enjoyable vacation.

Food & Drink in Paradise

Yes, you can book a condo with a kitchen and prepare meals everyday to save money while on vacation but if you do this in Key West, you are really going to miss out on one of the best reasons to go to Key West in the first place. Key West has some of the most interesting restaurants where the charm of the establishment is just as enjoyable as the food and others have the most beautiful ocean views that one could imagine. It is true however, that enjoying the scrumptious and flavorful wonders of Key West will take a big chunk out of your vacation budget. And don’t forget the drink!! Key West is known for it’s bars and pubs, and with every step you take, day or night, is another crowd filled establishment with the sounds of people having fun and great music drawing you into it’s doors. Drinks in Key West don’t come cheap so moderation will be called for – Good Luck with that!!

Anything Left in the Budget for Activities?

There is no question, that you will quickly find out that if your really want to enjoy all that this paradise on earth has to offer, a Key West vacation will not come cheap, no matter how good your budgeting skills are. However, to plan a trip to Key West and not take in at least some of it’s charm and it’s most famous sights would be pointless.

There are many things to do and see in Key West and if you pick and choose the activities that interest you most, and at a cost that fits your remaining budget, you will find that there is hope yet to plan that fabulous Key West vacation you have been dreaming about.

Just A Few Examples of Some Low Cost Activities and Attractions in Key West

  • If staying at a resort with a private beach is out of your budget then make use of the public beach like Smathers Beach.
  • The Ernest Hemingway House and Museum is a popular destination that is also very affordable, with general admission at $15 per adult. Please Note: Only Cash accepted at Hemingway house
  • The Key West Light House and Museum is a 1 minute walk from the Hemingway house and admission is $12 per adult and $5 per child
  • The Harry S. Truman Little White House and Museum is $23.00 per Adult and $11 per child
  • The Key West Aquarium is 18.00 per adult and $10 per child
  • The Mel Fisher Maritime Museum is $15 per adult and $7 per child
  • Key West Shipwreck Museum is $16.11 adult and $9.66 child
  • The Key West Tropical Forest & Botanical Gardens on Stock Island admission $10 per adult and children are free with adult admission
  • Ripley’s Believe it or not is another inexpensive attraction and is an advertising affiliate of our website, meaning if you purchase tickets through the link below a commission is earned by us, which certainly helps us to keep this website running!!

We will go in to more detail on our Key West adventure on our next post, however, I wanted to do this one strictly about planning and budgeting because I thought it was important to let our readers know that in reality we were not prepared and went way over budget. The whole purpose of our site is to inform and prepare you, our readers, to help you plan as we don’t want anyone to have an unpleasant surprise that can ruin a vacation.

So to wrap this up, here is our main take a ways:

  • We actually spent more while trying to spend less – Next time we will spend a little more to have our lodging be near the attractions we want to experience. One round trip taxi to center of all attractions and back to our condo and only one round trip per day – $60 including tip and we still had to walk a lot!!!
  • If you are even close to being a foodie then whatever you think you are going to spend on eating out, Double it!! |For 2 people we averaged around $70 per meal and had only 2 meals per day. You can save a little by preparing your own meals if you have lodging with a kitchen but be realistic with yourself, you won’t want to miss some of the best food ever and the famous Key West restaurants.
  • If you enjoy adult beverages then you are going to love Key West but drinks are expensive and can eat away at the budget quickly. Plan about $10 – $15 average per mixed drink.
  • Plan to spend your time on what really brings you to Key West in the first place and don’t try to do everything. Relax, enjoy the tropical weather, delicious food, great music and maybe a few adult beverages. Add a to your agenda only attractions that really interest you to keep you within budget. If you try to do it all, not only will you go over budget you will be stressed out trying to do it all. I mean a vacation is to relax and enjoy, is it not? Save something for next time cause you are going to want to come back!!!
  • Lastly I want to mention something that is a must pack in your bag item. Bug repellent, Key West has these little biting bugs called noseeums, Yes, they hurt and itch and you will be miserable if you get enough bites. Don’t let bug bites ruin your vacation!!!

click to read more about our Southern Most Key West adventure

For everyone thinking about planning a Key West adventure, we hope this post was not only enjoyable but helpful to you. If you would like to learn more about our Florida Journey and get other helpful planing info and advice then please subscribe to our site. To join the interactive Florida discussion, ask questions and make new Florida loving friends, then please join our facebook group at:

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