Best time to visit Key West

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Key West, where roosters wander the streets and even enter shops, is one of the most unique destinations in the USA. Living its own life 113 sun-drenched miles from mainland Florida, the island is a place of quirky attractions, grand parties and maybe best of all — endless summer. But when is the best time to visit Key West?

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Escape the cold from December to February

While most of the northern hemisphere feels uninvitingly cold from December to February, Key West plays by its own rules. It’s not called endless summer for nothing.

A Key West day in the middle of winter typically sees daytime temperatures in the mid 70s (24°C). At night, temperatures on average don’t retreat below the mid 60s (18°C).

Even when you visit Key West between December and February, you need to take action to make sure that the sun doesn’t get the better of you. You might call it winter elsewhere, but in Key West — it’s still summer.

So tour Old Town of Key West, attend sunset celebration on Mallory Square and then head to Duval Street for dinner and world-class entertainment — all wearing your favorite summer outfit.

Enjoy the best weather from March to May

Do you want to visit Key West when the Florida island offers its most attractive weather? Then make your way to Key West in March, April or May.

At this time of the year, called spring elsewhere in America, days are clear and warm, but not yet outright sizzling. Expect average high temperatures hovering around the upper 70s and lower 80s (27°C).

How nice doesn’t that sound?

No matter if you target sightseeing or beachgoing, land based activities or water based pleasures, March through May is the perfect Key West period to visit Key West. Just make sure to pack your best sunglasses —  they will be needed.

Endure the dog days of summer between June and August

Testing the tolerance level of visitors, June to August is the most intense shade of Key West’s summer. During daytime the temperature frequently hits the 90s (32°C), and even at night it floats around 80°F (27°C).

You might think that sounds pretty bearable, but have Key West’s signature humidity of 70%+ in mind too. Because of the humidity, days feel significantly hotter than the number the thermometer shows.

This period of the year is called the dog days of summer for a reason. The combo of hot and humid can really make you feel uncomfortable.

It’s an unforgiving duo, and one thing is certain: You’re going to sweat.

June, July and August is a time in Key West that you either love or hate. If you don’t mind boiling conditions, it’s a great time to visit Key West. But if you rather avoid those balmy day, this time of the year isn’t for you.

Score a good hotel deal from September to November

The Atlantic hurricane season officially begins in June and ends in November. Its most busy part is the time from mid-August to mid-October, with the very peak of action in September.

Will a hurricane hit Key West the next hurricane season or not? No one can know for sure, but chances are great that your Key West vacation won’t be interrupted by the weather gods.

In fact, September to November is a superb time to visit Key West on a budget. Because kids are back to school and the potential hurricane threat, you can often score sweet fall deals on Key West hotels.

November might be the overall best month of the year to visit Key West. Now the average daytime temperatures are back around the lower 80s (27°C), and it rains less than during the other fall and summer months.

Just know the risks and double check your travel insurance in case you plan a Key West visit between September and November. When it comes to travel plans and hurricanes, it’s definitely better to be safe than sorry.

Key West's waterfront a balmy day of summer
Most days in Key West are balmy, no matter when you visit.

Best time to visit Key West by month

Now, you hopefully have a rough picture of the best time to visit Key West. But to narrow it down even further, let’s have a look at the best time for visiting Key West month by month.

Appreciate endless summer in January

Who knew winter could be so comfy? January is the coldest month of the year in Key West, but the temperatures hitting the mid 70s (24°C) still make it feel like beautiful days of summer.

Have memorable February date nights

Valentines Day reaches another level in Key West. Start the day with a complete hotel breakfast, such as the one served at Almond Tree Inn. After breakfast, full of energy, tour the best sights of the historic Old Town. Then lounge by the pool, preferably sipping on drinks, before the day culminates with romantic sunset celebration and al-fresco dinner.

Enjoy Spring break in March

Key West is a spring break destination that caters to visitors of all ages. Uncover history in Old Town, stroll through the Butterfly Garden or enjoy an adventure at sea by day — activities on and in the water define Key West. As day turns into night, the vibrating Duval Street is the perfect scene for a big night out

Visit in April for ideal weather

It’s hard to say anything else than that the weather is gorgeous in Key West in April. During daytime the temperatures climb to the lower 80s (27°C), and at night they remain above 70°F (24°C). In addition, most days are brilliantly sunny too. So for ideal weather, characterized by nice temperatures and clear skies, April is the best time to visit Key West.

Plunge into Dry Tortugas in May

Key West is the gateway to one of the most remote national parks in the USA, Dry Tortugas National Park. Situated 70 miles (113 km) west of Key West, Dry Tortugas encompasses seven uninhabited islands and abundant marine life. In May, a gorgeous time to visit, the waters are generally calm and warm — but without that midsummer heat.

How you get to Dry Tortugas? Ferry and seaplane services connect Key West to Garden Key, one of the islands in Dry Tortugas National Park.

Beat the heat from June

Key West lives by its own playbook, and the thermometer shouldn’t be fully trusted down here. From June through September, the temperatures frequently hit the 90s (32°C), but with a constant high humidity, it feels significantly hotter.

What can you do to beat the heat? Book a Key West hotel with swimming pool and tour air-conditioned museums or have refreshing drinks during the hottest midday hours.

Entrance to Southernmost Point Bar in Key West, FL
A cooling drink, anyone?

Sweat with Hemingway in July

Ernest Hemingway, awarded the 1954 Nobel Prize in literature, really knew how to tell a story. Concise yet engaging, Hemingway wrote many of his most famous works in Key West, where he was based through the 1930s. No matter when you visit Key West, touring the Ernest Hemingway Home on Whitehead Street is a highlight.

For an extra dose of Hemingway, the Hemingway Days is an annual July event held in Key West. Various activities salute the master of narrative, but the Hemingway Look-Alike Contest at Sloppy Joe’s Bar, Hemingway’s favorite watering hole, stands out a little bit extra.

Discover the waters in August

The dog days of summer continue well into August. If you want to cool down a little bit, do as the locals do and go out on the surrounding waters. Those ocean breezes are certainly as appreciated as ever in August. For a complete salvation, try some Florida Keys snorkeling or diving.

Go big or go home in September

Do you feel lucky, or at least not unlucky? September can both be a beautiful and relatively cheap time to visit Key West. However, have in mind that September is the month when the Atlantic hurricane season is as most active.

Succumb to October’s Fantasy Fest

New Orleans has Mardi Gras, Key West has Fantasy Fest. For 10 days, during the second half of October, Key West turns into an untamed spectacle. Started in 1979 to show that low season is lovely in Key West too, Fantasy Fest is an adults-only extravaganza of themed costumes, eye-popping parades and wild parties. Especially look out for the float carrying the year’s crowned Conch King and Queen.

Find a sweet spot in November

As October becomes November, the skies get clearer and, although the hurricane season officially lasts through November 30, the risk of an hurricane decreases day by day. Still it’s not yet high season in the Florida Keys, which means that Key West accommodations offer appealing rates. If you travel on a budget but want to avoid the peak of hurricane season, November is the best time to visit Key West.

Shovel sunshine in December

With temperatures hovering around the mid 70s (24°C) in December, the appeal of spending the holidays in Key West is evident. Why shovel snow when you can shovel sunshine in Key West instead?

But there are more reasons to visit Key West in December.

Although the only ice you find here is in your drink, Key West surely knows how to celebrate Christmas. All over town, you find Christmas decorations, often with a nautical theme.

On New Year’s Eve, there are several different drops throughout the island. Key West, bursting with energy, is a nationally recognized destination for New Year’s celebrations.

Orange Key West sunset over the Gulf of Mexico during winter
Key West sunsets are special year round.

Where to stay in Key West

Well done, you now know everything there’s to know about when to visit Key West. To take your visit to the next level, book one of our most recommended options for where to stay in Key West.

Almond Tree Inn

Are you a couple traveling to Key West? Then consider the lovely Almond Tree Inn, central in Old Town yet incredibly peaceful. Spend your time by the inviting pool, or explore the best sights of Key West — which you, of course, easily reach by foot.

Douglas House

Surrounded by tropical vegetation, Douglas House embraces Key West’s tropical setting. The best example is the alluring pool area, where you happily cool off during those balmy Key West days. Oh, and Douglas House is also exceptionally located just steps from Duval Street.

Blue Marlin

The low-key Blue Marlin is positioned at the southern end of Old Town, near Key West’s most popular photo opportunity: the Southernmost Point. Located slightly further from most island action — don’t worry, you can still walk to all Old Town sights if you’re in decent shape — this a great option for where to stay in Key West on a budget.

Final words about the best time to visit Key West

Oh boy, Key West is just like no other place in America — or the world. From all the fun things to do to the climate, this is an island living its best tropical life.

For ideal weather, the best time to visit Key West is March to May. While it’s still not boiling, it’s warm around the clock — and hurricane season hasn’t arrived yet.

However, above all Key West is a year-round destination, with each month offering its own advantages.

Best time to visit Key West FAQ

What is the cheapest month to go to Key West?

Key West, boasting unique sights and endless summer, is definitely not a cheap destination. However, there are times to visit Key West on a budget too. For a more inexpensive getaway, the best months to visit Key West are September and October (but not during Fantasy Fest). Now kids are back to school and the risk of a hurricane is bigger, which makes the demand for Key West flights and lodging lower than at other times of the year.

What month is hurricane season in Key West?

The Atlantic hurricane season lasts from June 1 through November 30. It’s less likely with hurricanes early and late in the season, with its peak of activity from mid-August to mid-October. Although the risk of a major Key West hurricane to hit during a visit is appealingly low, it could go several years between them, it’s up to each traveler to decide if the risks involved are worth it or not.

What months can you swim in Key West?

Visitors happily plunge into the ocean off Key West year round. Key West’s water temperatures typically range from the lower 70s (21°C) in January and February to 87°F (31°C) in July and August.

Is there a rainy season in Key West?

December to April is the dry season in Key West, which receives less than 25% of the annual rainfall. The three driest months are January, February and March — all averaging less than 2 inches per month.

In contrast, June to October is the wet, or rainy, season — receiving 65% of the yearly precipitation. September, with an average rainfall of over 7 inches, is the wettest month of them all.

What about May and November then? These months are transition months between the dry and wet Key West seasons. Now excessive rainfall is possible but not likely.

What is the overall best time to visit Key West?

The combo of ideal weather conditions and the fact that Hurricane season hasn’t arrived yet makes March, April and May the best months of the year to visit Key West. However, if you ask ten locals, also known as conchs, about the best time to visit Key West, you most likely will get ten different answers. That’s because Key West is a year-round destination where each season has its unique charm.

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