The Perfect 3 Days In Key West Itinerary (2024 Guide)

Check out our ultimate 3 days in Key West itinerary, including all the highlights of this stunning destination in the Florida Keys!

Key West, the southernmost city in the continental United States, is known for its irresistible charm, vibrant culture, and tropical allure.

With colorful conch-style houses, historic landmarks, and vibrant sunsets, this island paradise captivates visitors with its unique blend of Caribbean influence and American flair.

From the lively energy of Duval Street’s bars and restaurants to the beauty of its secluded beaches, Key West offers a diverse array of experiences for every traveler.

To help you plan your exploration of the Florida Keys, we’ve created the ultimate Key West itinerary for those who have 3 days in Key West. This convenient itinerary outlines the best parts of the area and even includes fun day trips and excursions.

Whether indulging in fresh seafood at waterfront eateries, exploring the eclectic art scene, or snorkeling amidst vibrant coral reefs, there are so many amazing things to do with 3 days in Key West!

Find more things to do nearby with our list of the 20 BEST Things to Do in Key West, Florida.

3 Days In Key West Itinerary

Here is our ultimate 3 days in Key West itinerary! Whether you’re a Florida local looking to explore more of the Sunshine State, or you’re an international guest on an exciting Florida Keys road trip, 3 days in Key West is sure to be an adventure for you.

Day 1

On the first day of your Key West itinerary, explore the heart of the island. The Old Town is the most captivating part of Key West, so you’ll spend the entire day and night down here taking in all the sights.

You can explore most of these Old Town attractions on foot, or you can cover more ground by booking a bicycle tour. Either way, have a blast exploring the heart of Key West on the first day of your 3 days in Key West itinerary!

Morning: Historic District Attractions

Here are some of the top sights to include in your exploration of the Old Town, from the Southernmost Point to the Key West Lighthouse and more. We’ve listed them in order of location so you can conveniently walk from one attraction to the next.

Southernmost Point Buoy

The Southernmost Point Buoy is an iconic symbol of Key West’s unique geographical location and is a must-visit landmark for travelers exploring the island.

Situated at the southernmost point of the continental United States, this colorful buoy marks the spot where the Atlantic Ocean meets the Gulf of Mexico.

Visitors flock to this beloved landmark to snap photos with the buoy, which is adorned with vibrant colors and markings indicating its distance from various locations, including Havana, Cuba, and the North Pole.

Southernmost Point Buoy Key West
Snap a photo at the Southernmost Point in the Continental USA!
Key West Butterfly and Nature Conservatory

Another fun place to check out near the Southernmost Point is the Key West Butterfly and Nature Conservatory.

This serene sanctuary is home to thousands of colorful butterflies from around the globe, flitting gracefully amidst tropical flowers and cascading waterfalls in a lush, climate-controlled habitat.

As visitors wander through the winding pathways, they are immersed in the sights, sounds, and scents of this magical ecosystem, encountering exotic species such as the vibrant Blue Morpho and the delicate Monarch butterfly.

The Key West Butterfly and Nature Conservatory provides a captivating opportunity for nature lovers of all ages to marvel at natural beauty in Key West.

Plan to visit Miami first? Here is our ultimate Miami To Key West Road Trip Itinerary!

Key West Lighthouse

The Key West Lighthouse, an iconic maritime landmark, rises majestically above the historic streets of Key West, providing travelers with a glimpse into the island’s rich maritime history. Originally built in 1825 to guide ships through the treacherous waters surrounding the island, the lighthouse stands as a testament to Key West’s heritage.

Today, visitors can climb the 88 steps to the top of the tower, where they are rewarded with breathtaking vistas of the turquoise waters of the Atlantic Ocean and the vibrant rooftops of Old Town Key West.

With its historic charm and stunning views, the Key West Lighthouse provides a captivating opportunity for visitors to immerse themselves in the island’s maritime past and gain a newfound appreciation for its timeless beauty.

Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum

The Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum celebrates the prolific writer’s time spent in Key West and showcases remnants of his life and legacy.

Situated amidst lush tropical gardens in the heart of Old Town Key West, you can explore the Spanish colonial-style home where Hemingway lived and worked from 1931 to 1939. Guided tours lead visitors through the meticulously preserved interiors, showcasing the author’s personal belongings, furniture, and mementos.

With its rich history, timeless charm, and resident population of six-toed cats, the Ernest Hemingway House and Museum offers a unique and immersive experience that celebrates the legacy of one of the 20th century’s most iconic literary figures.

Afternoon: Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park

Next on your 3 days in Key West itinerary, walk about 15 minutes down to Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park.

Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park is situated along the southern coast of Key West. It’s home to a 19th-century fortress that was built to defend Key West’s strategic harbor. You can walk through the interpretive exhibits and enjoy a range of outdoor activities, including swimming, snorkeling, and picnicking on the park’s pristine sandy beaches.

With its tropical landscapes, panoramic ocean views, and historic attractions, Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park is an amazing place to visit in beautiful Key West.

Exploring more of the Sunshine State? Read our list of the 25 Best Things To Do In Florida!

Evening: Duval Street

As the sun begins to set, take to the streets of Key West and fully indulge in the evening energy! Duval Street, the vibrant heart of Key West, pulsates with excitement, offering visitors an eclectic mix of entertainment, dining, shopping, and nightlife.

Stretching for just over a mile from the Gulf of Mexico to the Atlantic Ocean, this iconic thoroughfare is lined with historic buildings, colorful storefronts, and charming cafes, creating a lively and dynamic atmosphere that captivates visitors day and night.

There are street performers, live music, nightclubs, bars, and even a nightly sunset celebration at Mallory Square near the end of Duval Street. You can dance the night away, go bar hopping, or just grab a nice dinner and stroll around.

From savoring fresh seafood at waterfront restaurants to sampling tropical cocktails at lively bars or maybe grabbing a slice of famous key lime pie, Duval Street is the perfect place to end a day of sightseeing during 3 days in Key West.

Day 2

It’s day 2 of your Key West itinerary! Hopefully you didn’t get too crazy on the popular Duval Street last night because today is going to be an amazing day of adventures. In the morning explore Dry Tortugas National Park, then do more sightseeing around the Key West waterfront and finish off with a lovely sunset sail.

Morning: Day Trip to Dry Tortugas National Park

Today you’re taking a day trip to Dry Tortugas National Park, located approximately 70 miles west of Key West. It’s pretty far so you might want to get up early and turn it into a day trip.

But you really don’t want to visit this place while visiting the Florida Keys! Dry Tortugas National Park is a remote and pristine paradise consisting of seven small islands and their surrounding waters.

Accessible only by boat or seaplane, this protected marine sanctuary is renowned for its crystal-clear turquoise waters, vibrant coral reefs, and abundant marine life, making it a haven for snorkelers, divers, and nature enthusiasts.

At the heart of the park lies Fort Jefferson, a 19th-century coastal fortress and one of the largest masonry structures in the Western Hemisphere. Steeped in history and surrounded by breathtaking natural beauty, Fort Jefferson offers visitors the opportunity to explore its historic ramparts, artillery batteries, and underground passages while learning about its fascinating role in American history.

In addition to its rich history and unparalleled snorkeling and diving opportunities, Dry Tortugas National Park has pristine beaches and secluded coves where you can soak in the natural beauty of the Florida Keys.

With its remote location, stunning landscapes, and abundant recreational opportunities, Dry Tortugas National Park offers a unique and unforgettable wilderness experience for those seeking adventure, relaxation, and connection with nature in one of America’s most remote and pristine national parks.

Find out more about how to visit Dry Tortugas National Park on the National Parks website!

Fort Jefferson At Dry Tortugas National Park
Fort Jefferson at Dry Tortugas National Park

Afternoon: Explore the waterfront

When you arrive back after your time in Dry Tortugas National Park, you might be pretty tired but you still have a sunset cruise tonight. You can spend whatever free time you have strolling around the Key West waterfront and checking out some attractions or just grabbing food or drinks at a restaurant. If you are up for more sightseeing, here are some of the top sights to check out.

Key West Historic Seaport

The Key West Historic Seaport is a vibrant and historic hub of the area. Steeped in maritime history dating back to the 19th century, the seaport is home to a picturesque collection of wooden docks, historic buildings, and colorful fishing boats that evoke the island’s rich heritage.

This is a great place to just go for a walk, grab some food, and relax by the water. If you have more than 3 days in Key West, you can also come down here to book sailing excursions, fishing charters, and kayak rentals.

The Key West Historic Seaport offers a range of recreational activities and experiences that celebrate the island’s deep connection to the sea, making it a must-visit destination for travelers seeking to immerse themselves in the vibrant culture and maritime traditions of Key West.

Read next: 2-Week Florida Road Trip Itinerary

Mallory Square

You may have already visited Mallory Square on your night of bar hopping! If not, definitely make time to check out this exciting plaza located at the western end of Key West’s historic Old Town during your itinerary.

Renowned for its nightly Sunset Celebration, Mallory Square comes alive each evening with live music, street performers, and vendors selling local crafts and cuisine, creating a festive atmosphere that draws locals and visitors alike.

Key West Aquarium

Not far from Mallory Square is the Key West Aquarium, one of the oldest aquariums in Florida! The aquarium provides a unique opportunity to encounter a wide array of marine life native to the region, including colorful tropical fish, graceful stingrays, and majestic sharks.

Through interactive exhibits and informative presentations, visitors can learn about the delicate balance of the coral reef ecosystem, the importance of marine conservation, and the fascinating behaviors of the creatures that inhabit these underwater worlds.

With its educational programs, touch tanks, and immersive experiences, the Key West Aquarium invites visitors of all ages to discover the wonders of the ocean right in the heart of the Florida Keys.

Explore more of the Florida Keys with a visit to Key Largo!

Truman Little White House

The Truman Little White House is a historic landmark that offers a fascinating look into the lives of past presidents and the rich history of the Florida Keys.

Originally constructed as naval officer housing in 1890, the building served as President Harry S. Truman’s winter White House during his presidency.

Today, visitors can explore the meticulously preserved rooms and grounds, which have been restored to reflect their appearance during Truman’s tenure.

Through guided tours and informative exhibits, guests can learn about Truman’s presidency, his personal life, and the significant events that occurred during his time in office.

Evening: Sunset Cruise

Finish off this amazing day in the Florida Keys with a sunset sail with food and drinks. You can watch nature put on a show, cruise around the calm, tropical waters of the Florida Keys, and indulge in some food, drinks, and socialization.

A sunset sail is the perfect way to end any day in Florida!

Sunset Sail Florida Keys
Sail off into the sunset!

Day 3

On the final day of your 3 days in Key West, join an adventurous tour that includes some water sports so you can embrace the sunny weather and marine life of the Florida Keys. Choose from a dolphin watching and snorkelling tour, a kayaking tour, or a jetski tour, then finish off the afternoon at Smathers Beach and get some key lime pie to wrap up the weekend.

Morning: Dolphin watching and snorkelling tour

While exploring the Florida Keys, make sure you take ample time to frolic in the warm, tropical waters. Spot marine life such as dolphins or sea turtles, soak in the Florida sunshine, and just have lots of fun!

A popular option is a Dolphin watching and snorkelling eco tour of Key West. You’ll cruise around the Florida Keys and your guide will take you to spots where dolphins are often playing in the waves.

Snorkel and explore the underwater world as well so you can fully appreciate the beauty of Key West!

Another option is a jet ski tour, perfect for those who love adrenaline and fast-paced sports. Or if you prefer a more mellow tour for your weekend in Key West, join a kayak tour and paddle around the stunning Key West coastline.

Afternoon: Smathers Beach

After your exciting morning of water sports and marine life, kick back on Smathers Beach. This beautiful location stretches along the southern shore of Key West and is a picturesque haven of sun, sand, and surf.

As the largest public beach on Key West, Smathers Beach has soft white sands and crystal-clear waters that are perfect for sunbathing, swimming, and watersports.

With its breathtaking views of the Atlantic Ocean and vibrant atmosphere, Smathers Beach captures the essence of island paradise.

If you’re not in the mood to be a beach bum, you could also check out the nearby Key West Tropical Forest and Botanical Gardens. Spread across 15 acres, the gardens showcase a rich diversity of plant life, including rare and endangered species native to the Florida Keys.

Visitors can wander along shaded pathways, discovering a colorful array of flowering plants, towering palms, and exotic trees, while listening to the soothing sounds of nature.

White Sand Beach Florida
Florida has so many stunning beaches!

Evening: Kermit’s Key Lime Shoppe

To finish off your action-packed 3 days in Key West, get some of the best key lime pie in the Florida Keys. Kermit’s Key Lime Pie Shoppe is a beloved culinary institution in Key West celebrated for its iconic Key lime pies and irresistible sweet treats.

Using traditional recipes passed down through generations, Kermit’s pies are crafted with locally sourced Key lime juice, resulting in a perfect balance of tartness and sweetness.

Beyond its signature pies, the shop offers an array of Key lime-infused treats, from cookies and candies to sauces and marinades.

With its charming ambiance and delectable offerings, Kermit’s Key Lime Pie Shoppe embodies the essence of Key West’s culinary heritage, and is the best place to taste a classic key lime pie.

See more of Florida’s East Coast with a visit to Fort Lauderdale!

Key West Travel Guide

Now that we’ve covered how to spend a weekend in Key West, here are some helpful travel tips that will help you plan your trip. From the best months to visit, to tips for getting around and accommodation recommendations, you’re well-equipped for the perfect weekend in Key West!

The best time to visit Key West

The best time to visit Key West largely depends on your own preferences. Because it’s located in the Florida Keys, the weather is tropical and you can visit year-round! But certain seasons bring a different vibe and temperature to Key West, and many travelers find that the period from late fall to early spring has the best weather.

From November to April, Key West experiences mild temperatures ranging from the 70s to 80s Fahrenheit, making it ideal for outdoor activities such as snorkeling, sailing, and exploring the island’s historic sites and natural wonders.

Additionally, this time of year sees fewer crowds and lower humidity levels in the Florida Keys, allowing visitors to enjoy the island’s attractions and beaches without feeling overwhelmed by tourists.

While the summer months from June to August can bring warmer temperatures and higher humidity, they also offer opportunities for exciting events and festivals, including the Key West Hemingway Days and the Key Lime Festival.

Despite the occasional afternoon shower, summer in Key West is still a popular time to visit for those seeking lively nightlife, vibrant street performances, and water sports such as jet skiing and parasailing.

Additionally, hotel rates may be lower during the summer months, making it a great option for budget-conscious travelers.

Ultimately, the best time to explore Key West depends on your own travel style, but each season offers its own unique charm and opportunities for exploration.

Key West Harbor
Key West has warm tropical weather that is pleasant year-round.

How to get around Key West

Definitely, the best way to get around during your weekend in Key West is to have your own car. If you don’t already have a car, consider renting one in Key West! Alternatively, you can rent a car somewhere in mainland Florida, like Miami or Orlando, and do an epic Key West road trip.

There are other options for visiting Key West without a car as well. Getting around Key West is relatively easy and convenient, with various transportation options available to suit every traveler’s needs.

Many visitors opt to explore the island on foot or by renting bicycles, allowing them to navigate the charming streets of Old Town and discover hidden gems at their own pace.

Additionally, the Key West Transit system operates buses that connect popular attractions throughout the island, providing an affordable and convenient way to get around. For those looking to explore further afield or visit neighboring islands, taxis and rideshare services are readily available.

Renting a scooter or electric car offers a fun and efficient way to explore the narrow streets and iconic landmarks of Key West. Or you can book a Hop on hop off Old Town trolley and explore the highlights of the Old Town on a fun, historic trolley car.

With its compact size and diverse transportation options, getting around Key West is a breeze, allowing visitors to make the most of their time on this enchanting island paradise.

The best way to get around is to rent a car and explore on your own! We recommend Rental Cars, which has the largest range of vehicles for the best value on the market.

Where to stay in Key West

Here are some of the best places to stay in Key West during your weekend trip. We’re going to list options for all types of budget ranges, though to be honest, Key West is not cheap! Even the cheapest motels are a bit on the expensive side, going for at least $250 USD per night.

However, a weekend in Key West is meant to be a bit indulgent, so don’t be afraid to treat yourself! And we’ll list a great budget motel that is as cheap as it gets in Key West.

Read next: 21 Best Things To Do In Fort Myers, Florida

Best Budget Accommodation: Blue Marlin Motel

The Blue Marlin Motel is one of the most affordable places to stay during your weekend in Key West, and it still gets great reviews! Complete with free continental breakfast, an outdoor pool, free wifi, and coffee facilities and work desks in the rooms, you have everything you need here for a comfortable stay.

Blue Marlin Motel is also perfect for a weekend in Key West because it’s just a short walk from local attractions like the southernmost point of the continental US and the Key West Butterfly & Nature Conservatory. If you have a car, it’s also just a short drive from the bustling Duval Street and the Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum.

Best Mid-range Accommodation: Truman Hotel

Take your accommodation up a notch during your 3 days in Key West with the Truman Hotel, located right near the Key West Old Town and within walking distance from the best local attractions.

Named after the iconic former president who once called Key West home, this boutique hotel captures the essence of island living with its chic and modern design blended seamlessly with historic charm.

The meticulously appointed rooms and suites evoke a sense of tropical elegance, featuring contemporary furnishings, plush bedding, and upscale amenities. Guests can unwind in the hotel’s lush courtyard oasis, complete with a sparkling pool and tropical landscaping, or venture out to explore Key West’s famed attractions, including historic landmarks, world-class dining, and picturesque beaches.

Best Luxury Accommodation: Oceans Edge Key West

Perched along the sparkling shores of Stock Island in Key West, Ocean’s Edge Hotel embodies the epitome of luxury and relaxation in the Florida Keys. With gorgeous views of the turquoise waters of the Atlantic Ocean, this waterfront retreat offers guests a serene escape during their weekend in Key West itinerary.

The Key West hotel’s contemporary design and upscale amenities create an atmosphere of modern elegance, with spacious suites and villas featuring private balconies or patios overlooking the ocean or lush tropical gardens.

Guests can indulge in gourmet dining at the hotel’s waterfront restaurant, unwind by the infinity-edge swimming pool, or explore the nearby attractions and vibrant culture of Key West. With its tranquil setting and unparalleled waterfront location, Ocean’s Edge Hotel is one of the best upscale accommodations in the Florida Keys!

DISCLAIMER: Some of the links in this article are affiliate links, which means if you book accommodation, tours or buy a product, we will receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. These commissions help us keep creating more free travel content to help people plan their holidays and adventures. We only recommend the best accommodations, tours and products that ourselves or our fantastic editorial team have personally experienced, and regularly review these. Thanks for your support, kind friend!

Picture of Alesha and Jarryd

Alesha and Jarryd

Hey! We are Alesha and Jarryd, the award-winning writers and professional photographers behind this blog. We have been travelling the world together since 2008, with a passion for adventure travel and sustainable tourism. Through our stories and images we promote exciting off-the-beaten-path destinations and fascinating cultures as we go. As one of the world's leading travel journalists, our content and adventures have been featured by National Geographic, Lonely Planet, CNN, BBC, Forbes, Business Insider, Washington Post, Yahoo!, BuzzFeed, Channel 7, Channel 10, ABC, The Guardian, and plenty other publications. Follow our journey in real time on Facebook, YouTube and Instagram.

Hi, We’re Alesha and Jarryd!

Join the Team

We’ve been traveling the world together since 2008, searching for the planet’s best destinations and adventures.

Love Travel?

Sign up for our free weekly newsletter for the best travel tips, ideas and deals!

We respect your privacy. Unsubscribe at any time.


Related Posts

Leave a comment