Key West in January: In the winter months, when the days get cold and dark up north, Key West remains warm and sunny, making it a great vacation destination throughout the winter. January is a popular month to visit Key West, due not only to the great weather, but also the wealth of activities and experiences available throughout the month. If you are considering visiting Key West in January, here is what you should know before you go.
The weather in Key West in January is beautiful, with average temperatures of around 74°F and low humidity. There is also very little precipitation in Key West in January, so you can very likely expect clear blue skies for the duration of your trip. The water also remains relatively warm throughout January, with average temperatures hovering around 69 °F, so you can enjoy swimming in the ocean without worrying about the cold.
Crowds and Atmosphere in Key West in January
Key West’s peak season for tourism runs from March to May, so if you go in January, you will avoid some of the crowds that flock to the island later in the year. That being said, Key West does see an uptick in tourist activity around the holidays, so if you arrive in late December or the first week of January, you may see more crowds than usual for that time of year.
Key West’s atmosphere in January is laid-back and friendly. Throughout the year, Key West has a calm, island vibe, with most visitors spending their time relaxing on the beach, swimming, partaking in watersports, and enjoying the great restaurants, bars, and live music.
What to do in Key West in January
Partake in January Activities
Embark on the Ultimate Adventure
The subtropical climate in Key West means despite January In Key West being winter, it’s still sunny and warm. If you’re in town for a couple of days you should definitely book the island’s most popular full day excursion. Hop aboard a luxury 65 foot catamaran to sail in the Gulf of Mexico . The cruise starts with a delicious continental breakfast onboard the catamaran followed by swimming and snorkeling in the coral reefs. Hop back on the cat for lunch as the tour moves on to the biggest Water Park in Key West where you can have fun parasailing, jet skiing and riding on the banana boat.
Key West Kingfish Mayhem Tournament
Are you an avid angler? Then be sure to visit Key West in January between the 14th and 17th. King Mackerel and other big fish in the 50 – 70lbs weight range are common in the area in January. Teams from all over the globe attend the fishing tournament to be able to claim the prize of the biggest catch, with up to $15 000 in winnings up for grabs.
Key West Half Marathon
Lace up your running shoes and hit the pavement at the annual Key West Half Marathon in the pleasant and sunny January weather. The course is 13 miles long and winds through charming Old Town with beautiful views of the ocean and historic landmarks to keep you distracted as you run. If you’re not quite ready for a half marathon, there’s a 5K race you can also take part in.
Key West Food and Wine Festival
Between January 27th and 31st, foodies flock to the quirky island for the annual Food and Wine Festival. The festival runs for 6 days and is an opportunity for local chefs and restaurants to showcase their culinary prowess. There are a slew of beach parties, wine tasting dinners, poolside tastings and other exciting activities lined up throughout the festival.
Seafood lovers from around the USA visit Key West in January for the annual Seafood Festival, a celebration of fresh catches and delicious seafood dishes. During the 15th and 16th of January head down to Truman Waterfront Park to treat your tastebuds to fresh seafood including pink shrimps, lobster tails and fish.
Visit Key West’s Most Popular Beaches
Key West’s beaches are beautiful year-round, but January is a particularly nice month to spend some time on the beaches, thanks to the beautiful weather and sparser crowds. Some of the most popular beaches on Key West include:
A one-mile long beach on Key West’s southern coast, Smather’s Beach is one of the island’s most popular beaches, and is perfect for swimming and snorkeling. The beach’s waters are extremely calm, with barely any waves at all, which makes it great for children and the elderly. The beach is often crowded, but in January, the crowds are smaller, making it a favorite among locals.
Simonton Street Beach
A tiny beach on the north end of the island, Simonton Street Beach is the perfect place to swim or relax in the sun. The popular bar, Lagerheads Beach Bar is located just off the beach, and is the perfect place to grab a drink or a bite to each right on the beach.
A small beach on the southern side of the island, Higgs Beach is one of the best beaches to visit in Key West in January. Higgs Beach is lesser known than most of the other beaches on the island, and therefore has smaller crowds. Right near the beach are plenty of great bars, restaurants, volleyball and tennis courts, and a pier, making Higgs Beach the perfect place to spend the whole day.
Although Key West is a small island, measuring only about 4 miles long and 1.5 miles wide at its widest point, there is plenty to see. Popular sightseeing destinations on Key West include the Hemingway House and Museum, the Tennessee Williams House, the Southernmost Point in the United States marker, the historic Civil War-era Fort Zachary Taylor, and the Truman Little White House.
Aside from these major tourist sites, there are plenty of other interesting historic attractions on the island, dating from Key West’s colonial history and earlier, all the way up to the modern day. From the pirates and smugglers who used the island as a hideout, to the soldiers who inhabited Key West during the Civil War, to the thousands of World War I veterans who lived and worked in the keys after returning home–all left their indelible marks on the island, which can be seen today in the form of historic houses and forts, highways and canals, shipwrecks and fortresses.
Visit Key West’s Bars and Clubs
No trip to Key West would be complete without indulging in the island’s famous nightlife. Key West in January is the perfect setting for bar hopping and visiting some of the island’s best clubs. If you are interested in experiencing Key West at night, here are some of the establishments you need to see.
The Green Parrot
Founded in 1890, and largely unchanged since then, The Green Parrot is a Key West favorite, and is known throughout the island for its wide selection of drinks, live music, and laid-back atmosphere. The reasonable prices and great service keep patrons coming back year after year.
Southernmost Beach Cafe
A restaurant and bar located on the southern tip of the island, Southernmost Beach Cafe is famous for its claim of being the southernmost bar in the United States. Located just 90 miles north of Cuba, the bar serves Caribbean and Asian cuisine made with fresh, local ingredients, and has a wide selection of wines, beers, and cocktails.
Smokin’ Tuna Saloon
An open air venue on the northeast of the island, featuring two bars, live music on the courtyard stage, fresh seafood, and great drinks, Smokin’ Tuna Saloon is a favorite hangout for tourists and locals alike.
Key West Fast Facts
- There are an uncanny number of roosters inhabiting the island. You will see more of them than you have ever seen in your whole life during your stay. They roam the streets and are a common sighting across the whole island. As we recommend with any wild animal, don’t feed or pet the roosters, instead admire them from a distance.
- The entire island of Key West is only 4 miles long so you won’t need a car to get around. Instead, take a walk to attractions nearby your hotel or hire bikes to see the whole island from tip to toe. Mopeds are also popular forms of transport on the island and a pretty neat way to explore the town.
- Key West has its own international airport making it really convenient to travel through. Non-stop flights from Miami operate daily. You can also drive from Miami through to Key West across the Overseas Bridge that connects the island to the mainland. The Greyhound bus also operates daily trips between Miami and Key West and is a comfortable 4.5 hour journey with plenty of great scenery to take in along the way.
- Key lime pie is a big deal in Key West with the island being home to hundreds of Key Lime Trees. Most coffee shops and cafes will have their own take on the island’s favorite dessert so don’t be shy to sample them all and find your favorite.
- There are lots of interesting shops that match the general quirky vibe of Key West where you’ll find cool trinkets and souvenirs to take back home. Clinton Street Market has plenty of fascinating stalls and kiosks to check out. For local artwork, visit the scattering of art galleries on Duval Street.
- To discover the history of the island head west to Old Town where most of the historic homes and docks are along with many of the most popular hotels, restaurants and tourist attractions.
Where to Go in Key West: The 4 Best Beaches, Restaurants, and More