Things to Do in Key West: The Hemingway House

When people come to visit us – which is generally every weekend in the winter, and only slightly less frequently in the summer –  they often ask what they should do while they are here. I have pointed out the Hemingway House at least 100 times on a map, yet have never gone. Until today.

In the summer, lots of places offer incentives for locals, to entice the people that keep them in business while we wait for the tourists to show up again in winter. As it turns out, the Hemingway House offers free admission for locals all year. That, I suppose, is incentive to tote all of the out-of-town visitors there for a peek at the six-toed cats.

Although Ernest Hemingway lived in Key West only nine years, he left quite an impression on Key West. There is a festival every year that draws hundreds of Hemingway look-a-likes. The tour of the house, which is included in the $12 admission, is well worth the time. Not only do you get a full history of all of Hemingway’s travels, and wives, but we learned that the pool cost $20,000 to build. That was in the late 1930s. Yikes. Upon his return home, Hemingway was so angry with his wife for building the pool, he brought home a urinal from Sloppy Joe’s and installed it as close to the pool as he could. All but one of the forty-six cats enjoy drinking from the urinal.

The tour is full of anecdotes – some well known, some less so – and is totally worthwhile. Sadly for us, one of Hemingway’s wives removed all of the ceiling fans in the house, making a summer visit a bit warm. If you are remotely interested in Hemingway, or just want to see the cats, it is a good way to spend an hour.

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