There are a myriad of restaurants, bars, beach clubs and entertainment going on in Miami, like here along Miami Beach. The main difference between Key West vs Miami is that Key West is a small town, while Miami is a bustling metropole!

When deciding between Key West vs Miami for a vacation, take into account the level of relaxation you desire!

Key West is definitely the more laid-back and tranquil option, evocative of a lush island escape. In just two days, you can easily take in all that Key West has to offer.

On the other hand, if high-end shopping, extravagant dining, and lively nightclubs are what you seek, then Miami is the perfect destination for you!

With a plethora of bustling activities, Miami is a glamorous and diverse beach city that attracts an enormous amount of visitors from all walks of life.

Let’s dig into the pros and cons (or differences) between the two cities in more detail, starting with a short overview of the beautiful zone of the Florida Keys on the southwestern tip of the USA!

The Florida Keys

Brown pelicans in Islamorada on the way down to Key West in the Florida Keys
Brown pelicans in Islamorada the Florida Keys

The Florida Keys are a true tropical paradise that draws tourists from all over the world. With a length of around 120 miles, these islands are situated between the crystal-clear waters of the Atlantic Ocean and the warm, calm waves of the Gulf of Mexico.

They’re considered a prime destination for those seeking out water-based activities such as fishing, boating, snorkeling, and (of course) scuba diving.

One particular location that draws visitors is the vibrant and lively city of Key West, the southernmost point of the Florida Keys. Tourists also flock to the renowned Duval Street, famous for its eclectic mix of bars and nightlife destinations.

The southernmost point in Key West (and the US)
The southernmost point in Key West and the US

Another must-see attraction is Mallory Square’s nightly Sunset Celebration, where tourists gather to witness a breathtaking view of the sun as it sets over the glistening waters.

For those who seek a more cultural experience, the Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum should not be missed. He had a house here in Florida as well as in Havana, the intriguing capital of Cuba, where he lived for a large part of 30 years!

This remarkable house was once home to one of America’s most iconic and renowned authors and has been preserved as a museum of his life and work.

Overall, the Florida Keys are a perfect destination for anyone seeking sun, sea, and adventure in a tranquil and charming town. With an abundance of activities to choose from, you will surely be spoilt for choice.

Key West

Charming street in Key West Florida
Charming street in Key West Florida

If you’re seeking a quieter, more relaxed island experience with an abundance of quirky museums and unique attractions, Key West is where you should set your sights.

Key West, while known for its scenic beauty, tranquil beaches, and watersports like snorkeling and scuba diving, is a small yet bustling town.

Its quaint, laid-back atmosphere offers a unique feeling that’s hard to come by in bigger cities like Miami.

Tranquil small town feel in Key West
Tranquil small town feel in Key West

If water sports, unique museums, and an island vibe are your thing, make it Key West.

However, if you’re looking for the type of flashy, trendy culture and aesthetic that Miami has become known for, Key West may fall short.

Experience the main differences between Key West and Miami and explore the beauty of these exciting vacation destinations!

Where To Stay In Key West


The Miami Skyline from a boat cruise in the Biscayne Bay
The Miami Skyline from a boat cruise in the Biscayne Bay

If being amidst a lively, bustling big city with endless attractions, activities, and busy streets is what you crave, Miami is your choice.

If you crave endless attractions, glamorous nightlife, diverse culinary options, and busy city streets, Miami is your answer.

Miami’s allure lies in its glamorous, exciting, and diverse beach city atmosphere with grand attractions and activities.

The city also has a famously vibrant nightlife, beautiful beaches, and high-end shopping experiences are what draw countless visitors every year.

The nightlife in Miami is unsurpassed, here from a night out in Miami beach!
Nightlife in Miami Beach offers a plethora of nice bars and restaurants

Whether you are a foodie, a shopper, or a beachgoer, Miami has something that tickles everyone.

The North Miami Beach and Sunny Isles Beach areas, in particular, stand out as some of the most scenic and visually striking spots in the city.

Miami is also uniquely positioned to cater to all sorts of visitors from families to singles looking for a party; making it a more versatile destination.

Where To Stay In Miami

Key West vs Miami

FactorKey WestMiami FL
BeachesA number of
smaller beaches
Miami Beach
ShoppingDuval Street is the most famousExcellent throughout, all price levels
HotelsDecent selection
also pricey
Infinite, often pricey
ClimateTropical, 2 seasnsTropical, 2 seasons
Price LevelMedium to high, Key
West is a pricey area
All price levels for food
and entertainment
TransportWalking distances!Car, Uber, Public
AirportKey West International AirportMiami International
Plethora of watersports, art and culture
RestaurantsA variety of good dining options in Key westAt least 5000! (OpenTable)
NightlifeA variety of good dining options in Key WestNever-ending
SecurityConsidered a safe cityHigh police presence, avoid downtown Miami at night

Wrap-Up Key West vs Miami 2023

You do not get views exactly like this in Key West!
The best ever view of Miami Beach and Fort Lauderdale

In either destination, you’ll find a breadth of vacation experiences to suit your individual needs.

Whether you gravitate towards the bustling energy of Miami or the laid-back charm of Key West, both destinations offer a wealth of seaside delights for all kinds of travelers – you just need to know where to look.

Moreover, both are great travel destinations in November – so you can’t go wrong with either. If time and money permit, consider taking a road trip from Miami to Key West to get the best of both worlds.

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My Resource Go-To List For Best Travel Booking Deals!

Best Airfare bookings: Skyscanner, Wayaway,

Best tour companies: Civitatis (for Cuba), Viator

Best Hotel Bookings: Booking, Expedia

Travel Insurance: IMG Medical Travel Insurance

VPN Secure Internet: ExpressVPN

Cuba Visa Online: Easy Tourist Card

Car Rentals Online: Discover Cars

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