Home Articles Key West on a Shoestring: Budget-Friendly Travel Tips

Key West on a Shoestring: Budget-Friendly Travel Tips

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Just because you are planning a vacation on a budget doesn’t mean you need to sacrifice comfort and a great time. Key West is a great vacation spot because it offers all of the exciting activities, comfortable lodging, and delicious dining you could want while allowing you to tailor your trip to your budget.

You can keep costs under control so you can splurge on a special excursion, dinner, or pampering tropical island experience–it’s up to you. Here are some great suggestions to get you started in planning your trip.

Where to Stay

No matter what kind of budget you have, it’s easy to find accommodations in line with that amount. Keep it simple with a campground like Leo’s Campground and RV Park or Boyd’s Key West Campground. You can pitch a tent or hook up your RV. These campgrounds have plenty of amenities, too, so you can still have pool access, pavilions, grills, marina access, playgrounds, laundry facilities, and showers, too. Hotels and motels in Key West run the gamut from inexpensive to high-end, so consider what kinds of perks are deal-breakers for you.

For some, the convenience of being in town and close to restaurants, museums, shopping, and activities is worth it. Hotels and motels also offer the benefit of amenities like pool and beach access, bicycle rentals, and on-site dining. When traveling with kids, these added benefits can be well worth the cost if they give you greater ease with organizing activities, meals, and getting around. Among the most popular choices for budget-friendly hotels are Kingsail Resort, Looe Key Reef Resort, NYAH Key West, and Sugarloaf Lodge.

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Best Restaurants for Budget Dining

Key West is legendary for its lively atmosphere among restaurants and bars. No need to go upscale though to have food you’ll remember forever. Make your first stop at Eaton Street Seafood Market to get the day’s freshest catch prepared to order. From the grilled lobster tails to the shrimp salad sandwiches, fried shrimp baskets,  fish tacos, stone crabs, and more, you can be assured of great seafood taste. Comfortable and shaded seating is available outdoors, or you can take your order to go.

And if there are some in your group that isn’t into seafood, Eaton Street has menu options to tempt them, too, including chicken tenders. Plus, Eaton Street offers online ordering too, so you can enjoy the fresh seafood you loved on vacation at home.

At Kermit’s Key West Key Lime Shoppe, indulge in traditional key lime pie, as well as numerous varieties like strawberry key lime. Get your dessert as a slice or by the pie. Kermit’s bakes their pies fresh every day, and the charming yellow and green clapboard house offers a welcoming feel you’ll love. While you’re here, stock up on staples like key lime-inspired jams, jellies, chutneys, dressings, cookies, candies, and even personal care items like lotions and lip balms. Try one of the dozen-plus kinds of pizza at Duetto’s followed by house-made gelato for dessert. And if you’re in town over the weekend, make brunch plans at Blue Heaven, a long-standing Key West tradition.

Enjoyable Activities for All

Key West’s local, state, and national parks offer inexpensive and accessible adventures for solo travelers, couples, families, and friends. There are several public beaches open to visitors as well as locals. You can rent beach chairs, umbrellas, and even snorkeling gear, as the waters are so clear here. Visit Fort Zachary Taylor State Park for tours of the historic fort, walking and biking trails, swimming, fishing, and picnicking. Nearby Dry Tortugas National Park is just a ferry ride away, and visitors here enjoy snorkeling and diving, swimming, kayaking, and touring the historic fort on Garden Key.

For a once-in-a-lifetime experience, make sure you book a fishing charter with All In Fishing Charters. It’s a great way to take part in the world-class wreck, reef, open water, flats, and backcountry fishing that Key West is known for. Everyone is welcome, even if you have never been fishing before. No gear or permits are required–all of that is taken care of by the captain and crew.

Key West is uniquely located in a place where there’s a wide range of fishing available all year round. Depending on the season, you could catch snapper, cobia, mahi-mahi, tuna, tarpon, grouper, and more.

Make the Most of Your Vacation in Key West

Even though your vacation funds may be limited, that isn’t any reason why you still can’t travel to someplace amazing. Key West is easy to get to by car, plane, or boat, and it offers a wide range of activities, dining, and accommodations for any budget. If you’re ready to make good use of that vacation time, whether it’s for a solo trip, couples adventure, or reunion, you can’t go wrong with Key West.