So you’ve decided to head down to the Florida Keys for a vacation? When is the best time to visit Key West? Just as crucial as picking a vacation spot is picking a time to visit it. Travel veterans to Florida will tell you that avoiding the summer heat and the swarms of school-aged children by going to Disney World in the winter or spring is a no-brainer. But what of the Florida Keys down south? When is the best time to visit this destination?
To best suit your needs, there are several times of the year to visit Key West, and Key West offers many opportunities for all types of travelers. It stands to reason that if you have kids in tow, you’ll want to plan your days around school breaks. If children are not an issue, you may be interested to learn that there are optimal times of year to visit Key West if you like certain types of festivals. Read on to learn more.
When Is The Best Time To Visit Key West?
The tourism industry as a whole agrees that the optimum time to visit Key West and the Florida Keys is between the months of March and May. Not unexpectedly, Key West sees a lot of visitors during the winter months, as people from colder climates head south to escape the snow and ice.
However, by late April, the winter crowds have mostly dispersed and the summer hordes have yet to arrive. Hotel rates are cheaper during this period, and temperatures average in the high 70s to low 80s.
There are a few other periods that visitors to the island should keep in mind, especially if they plan to celebrate a holiday, visit a festival or observe a unique season while they’re there. Consider these seasons and attractions if you plan to visit Key West soon.
Seasons And Attractions In Key West
Sadly, Key West is no stranger to hurricanes. Several tropical storms enter the Gulf of Mexico each year through the Florida Keys, which lies near the Gulf’s entrance from the Atlantic. Many powerful storms have hit Key West over the years, and some of them have caused extensive damage to the island.
The island might be evacuated at a moment’s notice if a dangerous storm is headed that way during the months of September through November, which is normally hurricane season in the southern part of Florida. Some individuals are wary of visiting Key West at this time for fear that a tropical storm would ruin their trip. Yet, hurricanes are often predicted days before they make landfall, allowing for safe evacuation. In the event of an evacuation order from the government, hotels will often refund guests’ payments for their stay.
Those who are not scared off by the potential of a storm, on the other hand, may find that hotel rooms and vacation packages are significantly discounted during this time, something to note for those looking to save money on their trip. If you choose the hurricane season for your vacation in Key West, make sure your travel insurance covers hurricanes.
Key West Film Festival
The Key West Film Festival takes place every November and promotes itself as the place “where passion meets paradise.” The festival honors cutting-edge cinema as well as artistic expression, diversity, and culture. Events screening the works of Florida’s independent filmmakers often draw A-list Hollywood directors and actors as guests of honor. It also serves as a boost to the island’s traditional low season for tourists.
Actress Mariel Hemingway, the granddaughter of Key West’s most famous inhabitant, author Ernest Hemingway, is among the guests who have been there in the past. Others include Burt Reynolds, Barry Corbin, Marisa Tomei, and more. The films competing in the festival can win awards in several different categories, such as the Critics’ Prize, the Costume Design Focus, and others.
Every year since 1979, Key West Florida has hosted a ten-day celebration known as Fantasy Fest in the month of October. The festival was created by a group of people in Key West to attract visitors to the island during a period of low tourist volume and pleasant weather. Since then, the festival has expanded into a full-blown extravaganza, complete with parades around Duval Street, costume contests, and celebrity guests from the fantasy film and book industries.
The local Chamber of Commerce hosts a festival with artist demonstrations, musical performances, and a contest for the finest fantasy-themed home decoration. Guests can meet and chat with their favorite actors, authors, and artists from the fantasy genre and even join in on karaoke contests.
Key West Pride
This celebration occurs in the month of June when the weather in southern Florida is getting hotter. Afternoon showers are common, and highs typically range from the high 80s to the low 90s, so outdoor activities may be interrupted. Key West Pride, on the other hand, is the perfect event to attend if you’re searching for a celebration that welcomes people of all backgrounds and identities.
The LBGTQ community party is well-known for its welcoming environment and casual vibe, which showcase the community’s commitment to diversity and acceptance. During this period when a variety of people visit Key West, there are daily shows and performances, so tourists traveling in groups won’t be bored. Visitors from all walks of life are welcome, and some local businesses even provide special festival discounts to families of all backgrounds.
Summer In The Florida Keys
Summer is actually the second busiest season in Key West, second only to winter. It is during the summer months that families travel with their children to tropical destinations looking for fun in the sun and on the beach. In addition, room rates, which are typically at their highest in the winter, tend to level out over the summer. Summer in Key West is pleasant if tourists can handle the heat (which may frequently exceed 95 degrees Fahrenheit) and the frequent afternoon showers that hover over the Florida Keys.
A lot of fun activities may be pursued in the open air, such as visiting beaches, hiking through parks, and going fishing. Several fun activities are available for kids of all ages during the summer months, while others are open year-round. Summer is also the peak season for families on the island, as families with children take advantage of the countrywide school break to visit.
Similar to the rest of Florida, Key West experiences its peak tourist season in the summer months of July and August. With temperatures in the upper 90s and, in some areas, extremely high humidity, this is the hottest season of the year. However, this is when the island sees the most visitors overall, not just the “snowbird” migration of winter tourists. In general, both beaches and hotels will be busier and more expensive than usual during these two months.
Families with children who attend schools that start a little bit later may extend their vacations by a week or two into September at the beginning of hurricane season to avoid the major crash of crowds in late July and early August.
While the rainy season in Key West coincides with the overall tourist season, many of the island’s museums and attractions put on unique shows and attractions for the season’s visitors to lure them indoors with unique activities and a dose of island history. Old Town Key West at the time particularly has special events for tourists.
College students flock to Florida every year during the period known as spring break, causing the state’s tourism industry to experience a significant boost. The Florida Keys and Key West are no exception, as the island has plenty to offer the many tourists who will be visiting during this holiday season. The specific date shifts from year to year since it depends on when most universities around the country offer students a week off during the spring semester, usually around Easter.
The idea of spending a week of a college student’s break partying on the beach with their pals dates back to the 1960s, when the concept of a vacation from college first appeared, sparking a holiday tradition. In 2023, the week of Mardi Gras in New Orleans will coincide with the college break for most colleges and universities, between February 18th and 25th. While some establishments, such as clubs and some shops along Duval Street and Mallory Square, may adopt a Mardi Gras Carnival theme during this time, in Key West, the week of college student relaxation is its own event.
This is when many bars and clubs on the island host special events, and the island hosts the annual House and Garden Tour, showcasing some of the island’s most beautiful gardens. The Annual Conch Shell Blowing Contest, in which contestants show off their musical talents by blowing into a conch shell, also takes place during this time.
Lobster season is a great time to visit the Florida Keys and Key West if you prefer deep-sea fishing or scuba diving. Similar to spearfishing, lobster diving is a challenging activity, and the Florida Keys are home to a number of boats that take on clients interested in trying their hands at “bug hunting.” During the season (which runs from August 6th through March 31st), Hawks Cay Marina hosts a number of different trips.
A legal catch for a lobster hunter is one with a carapace length of at least 3 inches and a weight of at least 1 pound. Six lobsters per day may be kept by divers, provided they are not females. Those interested in lobster hunting do not need their own lobster license as long as they hire a charter that already possesses one.
Winter In Key West
Key West’s winter season officially runs from December through February, when the island experiences the coldest temperatures. Temperatures remain in the low 70s, but accommodations are more expensive than usual because of the great demand. Accommodation and sightseeing costs in Key West are higher in the winter because of the influx of winter travelers visiting Key West seeking refuge from the cold weather in the northern states, making this a high season for tourism on the island, even during the coldest month of February. They peak in these months, while child-free visitors may find that there are significantly fewer families with young children on the island during this time. This is also the time when hurricane season has finally drawn to a close.
Don’t Miss Out!
When planning a trip to Key West, Florida, it’s important to consider the time of year, as each season has its own advantages and disadvantages, especially during hurricane season. Knowing what to expect in terms of weather, tropical storms, and other potential disruptions to your vacation is the first step in figuring out how to get around any problems that may arise.
Travelers to Key West in the wetter months can still have a fantastic time, so long as they plan to spend most of their time outdoors in the morning. It’s possible to get a decent deal on hotel prices in Key West if you plan your trip around a festival or a time of fewer crowds. With little forethought into the Key West weather, keeping an eye on flight prices, and careful budgeting, a trip to the southernmost city of the continental United States may be enjoyable at any time of year.
To get started on your next Key West adventure, contact Key West Boat Trips today to begin planning your next vacation excursion, no matter the time of year you visit!