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How to Spend Less than One Day in Key West

Planning one day in Key West, Florida?

It feels like it was ages ago when we spent a day in Key West, Florida. The day was actually the last time we cruised at the end of 2019. The last vacation we got to take before the pandemic changed travel and caused chaos around the world.

We are so happy to have these memories and experiences to look back on. While we do, we might as well post about our one day in Key West. Whether your future cruise is landing there for less than a day in Key West or you’re taking a Key West day trip, these activities or foodie spots may be the inspiration you are looking for.

Florida is open.

If you do choose to travel there soon or in the future, we advise following all Covid guidelines set by local businesses and city officials.

featured blog image | one day in key west

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Cruising to Key West

Obviously, cruising has come to a halt right now. We hope we can cruise again safely in the future. But Key West was our last port-of-call on our Southern Caribbean Celebrity Equinox cruise.

It was hubby’s first time in Key West and I hadn’t been there in years. The experience of driving from Miami and taking the 7-mile bridge is one I highly recommend. As well as the faster route, sailing in on a cruise ship.

Arriving on a cruise, you have enough time to do one or two of the following:

Tip: Do not forget your government identification or passport and cruise ID when leaving the ship. The port authority in Key West will check all IDs prior to boarding.

One Day in Key West, Florida

What to do in less than a day or on Key West day trip?

If we had more than a day, we would have loved to make the long drive in from Miami and explore all the Florida keys. Alas, all we had was one day and we had to make the most of the time we had in Key West.

Old Town Trolley Tours

trolley, open-air windows, green top exterior, and bottom orange exterior

Every cruise veteran we spoke to on the ship, suggested Old Town Trolly Tours. It’s a hop-and-off trolley that takes you sightseeing around the old Key West and new Key West making stops along. You can hop on at any of the stops and then hop back on another trolly at another.

Not sure if we’ve mentioned how we feel about hop-and-off tours before because they are not usually on my agenda. We have not had great experiences.

In big cities, we found that it takes longer to get anywhere on those tours because of traffic. When it probably would have been faster than just taking a train or walking. Don’t get me started on those audio headsets they give you that you can’t hear or understand anything from. A complete waste of money most of the time.

Pinterest Marketing Pin | Day Trip to Key West

Old Town Trolly Tours completely surprised us and we’re here to tell you, it is worth the cost, especially for the short time you’re in town.

What we loved about Old Town Trolly Tours:
  • the trolleys have a vintage feel with wooden two-seater seats on each side
  • it’s open-air
  • the drivers are locals that are SUPER nice and informative
  • no audio headsets, the drivers are your tour guides and speaking to you LIVE
  • every driver will each have their own tips and stories to share
  • never felt like we were stuck in endless traffic
  • we never waited for a trolley too long

We got a tour of all of the key spots around Key West, along with the history of the island, stops we shouldn’t miss and some of the driver’s favorite local foodie spots.

The tour itself lasts about 90 minutes. With less than one day in Key West, we recommend you take a tour of the island first, make notes on where you’d like to stop, and what you’d like to do when you circle back.

Where to buy tickets for Old Town Trolly in Key West? You can buy them online prior to arriving and save 10% or you can purchase them in at a shop in Mallory Square (Google Map it) which is also their #1 stop.

Key West: Old Town Trolly Tour Updates & Safety Information

Things to do in Islamorada, Florida

Planning to explore one of the other Florida Keys? Have you been to Islamorada? This is a great home base when visiting the Florida Keys or a great day trip from Key West. Here are all the fun things to do in Islamorada.

The Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum

palm trees and lush tropic plants frame Hemingways key west home

Visiting Ernest Hemingway’s home in Key West was on the top of our list. We didn’t even know he had a home on the island until we started researching things to do in Key West. It sparked our interests.

As an added bonus, there is a trolly stop nearby.

The beautiful estate is full of Hemingway’s history, memorabilia, and tales of the infamous writer that loved Cuba, drank too much, and married one too many times. While it was a fascinating and entertaining tour, it was also an eye-opening one.

A few quick fun facts and things to look forward to:

  • Ernest Hemingway lived in this coastal home from 1931 to 1939.
  • There are about 60 cats on the property, all descendants of Hemingway’s 1st six-toed cat.
  • He wrote the majority of his most-known work in Key West.
  • The swimming pool in his home was the first in Key West.
  • Don’t miss the Sloppy Joe’s urinal turned fountain in his backyard,
  • Or his “last penny”.
narrow hallways, arched window, and a gray cat inside the 2nd floor of Hemingways key west home

It was also nice and relaxing walking the lush grounds while we were there. It is kept up beautifully. At the time, there was seating in corners of the courtyard where you could sit, enjoy, and understand why Hemingway loved it there.

Hemingway's office in his Key West home

You can purchase your tickets in advance on their website or at the door. A tour is included with your ticket, definitely take advantage of the knowledge the guides have to share.

Time for a drink? Stop by Hemingway’s watering hole: Sloppy Joe’s.

Ernest Hemingway Home | 907 Whitehead St, Key West, FL 33040 (Google Map It) | Website | Cost: $16.00 per adult

Celebrity Equinox Cruise Review

Read what we love and didn’t love about our Southern Caribbean cruise on the Celebrity Equinox ship.

Old Town Key West

Hop-and-off is great, but if you have time, make sure to take a walk through old town after leaving Hemingway’s.

Did you know that there are over 3,000 historical buildings in the old town of Key West?

If Hemingway’s home doesn’t interest you, here are some other points of interest to explore in Key West:

  • Key West Lighthouse
  • Southernmost Point
  • Mallory Square
  • Duval Street

Southernmost Point

the southernmost point in key west

Don’t miss the infamous southernmost point that marks the southern tip of the continental US.

Warning: there will more than likely be a long line for pictures. Personally, we decided not to wait in that line, but this is YOUR vacation. You decide what you want to stop and take pictures with. Do what feels best for you.

Book a Hotel in Key West –

Tasty Itinerary: Food in Key West

The food in Key West that struck me as the #1 item to try is Key Lime Pie. Everywhere you go, you’ll see signs for Key Lime Pie. Everyone sells “the best” on the island.

For us, we also were looking to get a taste of Cuban coffee and or any of the Cuban treats as it’s not easy to find in Los Angeles. It’s one of the things we always keep our eye out for when we are in Florida.

Cuban Coffee Queen

There is never a time that we turn down a cup of Cuban cafe con leche. The moment we spotted Cuban Coffee Queen, we knew what we were having after our trolley tour. We made a beeline to the closest one near Hemingway’s, ordered 2 cafe con leches, mine was iced (it was hot out) and fresh warm Cuban bread with guava and cream cheese.

You guys, we were in heaven. This brought me back to my childhood having guava con queso with my kiddie version of cafe con leche while vacationing in Puerto Rico. Don’t you love the rush of memories food brings?

One thing we noticed that totally impressed us was the ice cubes in our iced cafe con leche were of coffee, not water. So as the iced melted on that humid hot morning, my iced coffee never watered down. It was the pick-me-up we needed to get us through until lunch.

3 Locations in Key West | Order Coffee to Your Home | Website | Tripadvisor

Salute on the Beach

slice of blue heaven key lime pie
Blue Heaven’s famous Key Lime Pie

One of the drivers mentioned Salute on the Beach as a great spot to grab a bite to eat, and not only that, they are a sister restaurant of Blue Heaven. Blue Heaven serves from what I understand one of the best Key Lime Pie in Key West and so did Salute on the Beach. I knew where we’d have lunch.

We hopped back on Old Town Trolley and headed back in the direction of the beach. This a casual restaurant on the beach. You can eat inside or outside, your choice. At the time, which we found surprising, it was not crowded at all, a plus.

We ordered their steam mussels in Bianco, peel & eat Key West shrimp, a mojito, and a slice of their Blue Heaven Key Lime pie. It was all delicious and worth trekking back on the trolley for.

For someone like me that normally does not like key lime pie or any citrusy baked goods, I can tell you, Blue Heaven’s Key Lime Pie gets 5 stars from me. The filling wasn’t too tart or too sweet, it was just the right amount of balance. Merengue is normally not for me but the combination of it with the filling and crust was divine. It was quite possibly the best key lime pie we’ve had, thus far.

Next time we are in Key West, we definitely would like to make it to Blue Heaven.

Salute on the Beach | 1000 Atlantic Blvd, Key West, FL 33040 (Google Map It) | Website | Tripadvisor

Other Key West Foodie Spots to try:

Other Key West Tours to Consider

If the hop on hop off Key West trolly tour isn’t something you’d like to do, there are many other fun activities you can book. There is nothing like booking a tour in advance of getting off the ship or arriving in town on your Key West day trip.

  1. Sail, Kayak, and Dolphin Watch on a Full-Day Eco-tour: book here
  2. Parasail in Key West: book here
  3. Jet Ski Tour of Key West: book here
  4. Tiki Cocktail Class: book here
  5. Key West Southernmost Food and Cultural Walking Tour: book here

A Key West Day Trip is a Fun Escape

With only one day in Key West, Florida, I learned that it’s definitely a fun escape. If I lived in Southern Florida, I could see myself visiting Key West for the day or spending time exploring the Florida Keys on the weekends from time to time.

Probably Key West is a little touristy as some parts did remind me a little of Disney, but that isn’t a bad thing. There are so many restaurants, bars, history, and plenty of things to see and do on the island for everyone.

I highly recommend visiting and if you make it more than a day trip, rent a car and explore the other Keys where you’ll find beautiful beaches and plenty of other activities to enjoy.

Have you been to Key West, Florida? Is it on your bucket list?

Don’t forget to share the love on Pinterest:

Pinterest Marketing Pin | One Day in Key West, Florida


Wednesday 30th of June 2021

I visited key west last year. But after reading this post I think I can do better than that. Thank you for sharing this blog post with us.


Wednesday 30th of June 2021

Thanks! Hope you have a great time returning to Key West. Let me know what you end up doing and what you love about it. We will be heading back to spend a little more time in the area later this year.

Lauren Elena

Thursday 8th of April 2021

I really want to visit now! My parents went to Hemmingway’s House and I was so jealous to learn about all those cats. I would have LOVED to find all 60. I also read a historical fiction book about him and his first wife so I’d be very interested in visiting. I definitely probably would have spent all day just there. Hopefully I could get a slice of key lime pie though and oh! that iced coffee with the coffee cubes!? Why isn’t all iced coffee made that way!? It should be! That sounds so incredible.

I loved your post! It makes me want to book a trip there and do ALL of that! Maybe I need 2 days since I’ll spend day 1 all day at Hemingway’s house.?

That sign is cool too. I never really thought about how close Cuba is to there. 90 miles!? I’d like to go to Key West and then take a boat over to Cuba. That would be pretty cool!

Awesome post as usual!!

Bella Jones

Monday 22nd of March 2021

I just loved your guide on Key West. My friend stays in Florida. Will visit and treat your guide like a bible.


Tuesday 23rd of March 2021

Appreciate your kind words. It was a nice day in Key West. Feel free to explore new finds and report back. =)

Macey @ Brine & Books

Friday 26th of February 2021

I have ALWAYS wanted to ride on a trolley, and the ones in Key West are my ideal of a charming & vintage way to experience that. I had no idea Hemingway lived in KW either!!! That's wild. And the fact that there are a LOAD of cats still living there, all from the original cat!??!!? A wildly interesting detail, wow. And mmm, now key lime pie sounds delicious!


Saturday 27th of February 2021

Hi Macey! The trolley in Key West was fun and exactly what we needed for the day. While I did love the Key West trolley experience, I highly recommend you add New Orleans and San Francisco to your trolly bucket list as it’s more of the vintage vibe you’re looking for. It was a great day in Key West, a ton of history and I still can’t believe Hemingway lived there too. You also can’t beat that sunny and warm Florida weather that I know you love.