$850 Key West Savings
On a recent trip to Key West–that coolest of small cities at the southern tip of the Florida Keys–I saved a bundle with the help of the Key West Vacation Pass. By laying out a mere US$54.99, I stood to save up to $850, depending on the length of my stay and the number of sites I visited with my coupon book.
“According to legend, once Key West sand gets in your shoes, you’ll return again and again,” says Monica Munoz. She’s the executive director at the Key West Attractions Association, the group that offers the coupon book. “We think the variety of attractions and the laid-back feeling also have something to do with it.”
And attractions there are aplenty. Take the Conch Tour Train, a slow, open air city tour. Kids will love the little train. Check out the Harry S. Truman Little White House Museum and the Oldest House Museum in a city with the largest wooden building historic district in America. Take a tour on one of the Sebago Watersports catamarans for a sunset tour beyond the harbour. Marvel at the butterfly, bird and plant life inside the glasshouse at the Key West Butterfly and Nature Conservatory. Tour the island via seaplane or sailing charter. Dine at El Meson De Pepe’s Restaurant & Bar, a Cuban themed eatery with live music on the waterfront Mallory Square where crowds gather to watch that famous sunset. There’s lots more, 23 attractions in all, but other than the sea plane tour, I took advantage of all of these.
The KWVP coupon book is a great way to guide yourself through all those fun Key West attractions, but it’s also a great complement to all the free stuff there is to see and do. The most iconic is to snap a selfie at mile zero, the concrete buoy-shaped marker that claims to be the southernmost point on the continental US. That’s almost true, but not far away is Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park where the soft sand beach stands just a little bit further south. Both are worth a visit. The park usually charges a small fee, but visitors can enjoy the cafe, swimming and even some group yoga.
Just walking around and meeting all the rogue roosters, chickens and chicks is entertainment on its own. It’s not quite free, but tracking down the best key lime pie is an inexpensive and very satisfying way to get around this most walkable city. Many say the best is at Kermit’s Key West Key Lime Shoppe at the end of Elizabeth Street, a place to marvel at the variety of ways to serve that distinct key lime flavour AND to meet Kermit himself, and hear some great stories. Ask about his grandmother’s recipe. My favourite freebie is probably the Key West Historic Memorial Sculpture Garden at the edge of Mallory Square. Spend an entertaining and educational half hour in the outdoor space, checking out all 36 bronze busts of the historical figures who feature in Key West’s past. Read their stories on commemorative plaques.
When you visit Key West, remember that third party booking sites don’t accept these coupons, so book directly with the attractions. Doing so also leaves more of the fee in the hands of the independent operators. There are a few blackout dates, but those are a handful of very busy holidays. As you’re leaving, check for that sand in your shoe. If you don’t find any, no worries. You’ll want to return again and again anyway.