Hemingway House: Must-See Highlights of the Museum in Key West


Nestled in the heart of Key West, a place where the sun seems to shine a little brighter and the ocean a bit more inviting, stands a house brimming with stories. It’s not just any house, but the Hemingway House – a beacon for literature enthusiasts and history buffs alike.

This isn’t a mere stop on a tourist’s itinerary; it’s a journey into the life of one of America’s most famous writers, Ernest Hemingway. But what is it about the Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum that captures the imagination of thousands each year? Is it the Spanish Colonial architecture, the lush gardens, or the whimsical charm of polydactyl cats roaming the grounds?

Or, perhaps, it’s the chance to walk in the footsteps of Hemingway himself, to feel the echoes of his words and the legacy of his life still resonating within these walls. As you step through the gates, you’re not just entering a historical site; you’re stepping into a story that continues to unfold, inviting you to become a part of its narrative.

Hemingway’s Life in Key West

Stepping into Ernest Hemingway’s shoes back in 1931, a time when the world was vastly different. Iconic American writer, known for his crisp, no-frills writing style, arriving in Key West with his wife, Pauline Pfeiffer. This wasn’t just a change of scenery for Hemingway; it was the beginning of a remarkable chapter in his life.

Hemingway embraced the local culture with open arms. He wasn’t just a visitor; he became part of the fabric of the island. I can almost see him, early in the morning, setting off on a fishing boat, the salty sea breeze ruffling his hair.

Hemingway Home Museum Room
Ernest Hemingway home
Hemingway Home Museum Rooms
Steven Miller

He’d spend hours out there, fishing rod in hand, lost in the rhythm of the waves. Or think of him in the evenings, strolling through the bustling streets of Key West, the warm, tropical air filled with the sounds of distant music and lively chatter.

Literary Inspiration in the Tropics

During his near-decade in Key West, Hemingway’s creativity flourished. Surrounded by the serene beauty of the sea, the swaying palm trees, and the laid-back atmosphere, he penned some of his most memorable works.

“To Have and Have Not” and “The Snows of Kilimanjaro” are testaments to this period’s profound influence on him.

It’s fascinating to consider how the maritime themes in these works might have been sparked by his own experiences out on the water, maybe while battling a giant marlin or simply observing the play of light on the waves.

Hemingway Home Museum Architecture
Hemingway Home and Museum

These weren’t just stories; they were reflections of the life he lived, the people he met, and the adventures he had in Key West. Each character, each scene, seems imbued with the essence of the island, its spirit woven into the very fabric of his narratives.

In Key West, Hemingway found more than just a picturesque backdrop for his writing. He found a community, a source of endless inspiration, and a place that would leave an indelible mark on both his personal journey and his legendary literary career.

Just imagine sitting in his writing room, the sound of the ocean in the distance, as he crafted stories that would captivate readers for generations. That was Hemingway’s Key West – a place of beauty, inspiration, and timeless storytelling.

The House and Its Unique Features

Nestled at 907 Whitehead Street in the heart of Key West, Florida, stands the Ernest Hemingway House. This Spanish Colonial-style mansion, dating back to 1851, is more than just a historical landmark; it’s a window into the life of one of America’s greatest literary figures.

The house’s architecture is a marvel in itself. Picture walking through its spacious rooms, where high ceilings create an airy, open atmosphere – a welcome respite from the Florida heat. The walls, if they could talk, would whisper tales of Hemingway’s days and nights spent writing and entertaining.

The Grounds: A Lush Oasis

Step outside onto the elegant wrap-around veranda, and you’re greeted by the soothing tropical breeze. It’s easy to imagine Hemingway here, sipping a cold drink, his eyes lost in thought as he gazes out over the gardens.

These gardens are a little piece of paradise, a lush, green space filled with vibrant local flora. They offer a serene escape, a place where one can meander and marvel at nature’s beauty.

But perhaps the most intriguing feature of the Hemingway House is its in-ground pool. Not just any pool, mind you, but the first of its kind in Key West.

Back in Hemingway’s time, this was an unheard-of luxury, a symbol of opulence and modernity. It’s more than a pool; it’s a historical artifact that reflects the lifestyle and status of its former owner.

Visiting the Hemingway House is like stepping back in time. Each room, each corner of the garden, tells a story of a man who was as complex and captivating as the characters he created. It’s a place where the spirit of Hemingway still lingers, a timeless tribute to his life and work.

Hemingway’s Feline Friends: The Polydactyl Cats

When you wander through the grounds of the Hemingway House, you might notice something rather unique about its feline inhabitants. These aren’t your ordinary cats; they’re polydactyls, known for their extra toes. It’s like nature decided to gift them with a little something extra, making each paw a tiny marvel.

The story of these cats begins with Snow White, a six-toed cat given to Hemingway by a ship’s captain. This wasn’t just a pet; it was the start of a legacy.

Hemingway Home Museum Six Finger Cat

Now, imagine these cats lounging around the property, their distinctive paws padding softly on the same floors Hemingway once walked. They’re not just pets; they’re a living, purring part of the house’s history.

Today, many of the cats roaming the property are descendants of Snow White. They’re a living, breathing connection to Hemingway’s past.

These polydactyl cats have become as much a symbol of the Hemingway House as the author’s own works. They add a layer of charm and whimsy to the place, a reminder of Hemingway’s love for these extraordinary animals.

Visitors often find themselves enchanted by these cats, each with its own personality and quirks. It’s not just about their extra toes; it’s about the sense of continuity and connection they provide.

In a way, they’re like guardians of Hemingway’s legacy, ensuring that the spirit of their famous owner continues to thrive within the walls and gardens of his former home.

Hemingway’s Sanctuary of Words: The Writing Studio

Tucked away above the carriage house, separate from the bustling life of the main residence, was Ernest Hemingway’s writing studio. This was more than just a room; it was a sanctuary where literary magic unfolded. The studio’s isolation from the main house was key, providing Hemingway the solitude and tranquility essential for his writing.

Stepping into this studio, one could feel the pulse of creativity that permeated the space. Central to the room was a large desk, a silent witness to Hemingway’s disciplined writing routine. Here, amidst the quiet, Hemingway would start his day early in the morning, often working until mid-afternoon. This disciplined approach to his craft is palpable in the atmosphere of the studio.

Surrounding him were bookshelves, a repository of knowledge and inspiration, and his trusty typewriter, the instrument through which his thoughts flowed onto paper.

It was in this very room that some of his most famous works came to life, including “To Have and Have Not,” “The Snows of Kilimanjaro,” and portions of “Green Hills of Africa.” These walls encased the fervor of his imagination, the dedication to his craft, and the birth of stories that would captivate readers for generations.

Inside the Ernest Hemingway House and Museum

The Ernest Hemingway House and Museum is not just a tribute to a legendary writer; it’s a treasure trove that offers an intimate look into Hemingway’s life and creative journey. As you step into the museum, you’re not just walking into a building; you’re stepping into the very essence of Hemingway’s world.

One of the crown jewels of the collection is Hemingway’s original typewriter. This isn’t just a piece of machinery; it’s the very tool that brought some of the 20th century’s most memorable stories to life.

Hemingway Home Museum Bedroom
Steven Miller
Hemingway Home Museum Bathroom
Steven Miller

You can almost hear the clacking of the keys as Hemingway worked on masterpieces like “For Whom the Bell Tolls” and “A Farewell to Arms.”

The museum’s extensive collection of photographs is a window into Hemingway’s world. These images capture candid moments from his life, travels, and intimate times with friends and family.

Each photograph tells a story, offering glimpses of his adventures, his relationships, and the times that shaped him both as a writer and a man.

But perhaps the most personal touch is Hemingway’s library. The shelves are lined with books from various genres and authors, reflecting the wide range of his literary interests and influences.

This collection offers insight into what fueled Hemingway’s imagination and the diverse literary tastes that shaped his own writing style.

Hemingway Home Museum Garden
Hanming Huang
Hemingway Home Museum Pool
Christophe Blaise

Additionally, the museum showcases an array of Hemingway’s personal items, from hunting trophies and fishing gear to personal correspondence.

These artifacts go beyond mere possessions; they’re fragments of Hemingway’s life, each telling a story about his passions, his adventures, and his relentless pursuit of the written word.

Planning Your Visit: Hours and Admission

The museum welcomes visitors daily from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM. It’s a perfect way to spend a day steeped in literary history.

Regarding the cost, adults can expect to pay around $18 for general admission. But hey, if you’re a student, a child, or a senior, you’re in luck! There are discounted rates available for you. Just a heads up, though – the museum operates on a cash-only basis, so be sure to have some money handy.

While you’re there, don’t miss out on the guided tours. They’re like a backstage pass to Hemingway’s life in Key West. Lasting about 30 minutes, these tours are led by guides who are brimming with stories and insights about Hemingway and his storied residence.

How to Get to the Museum?

The museum, located at the picturesque address of 907 Whitehead Street in Key West, Florida, is pretty accessible. If you’re already in Key West, getting there is a breeze – you can walk, bike, grab a taxi, or hop on a tram. It’s all about what suits your style and pace.

For those coming from afar, you can drive to Key West or catch a ferry. Once you’re on the island, local transportation options are plentiful to get you to the museum’s doorstep.

  • Pro Tip: Always check out the museum’s official website before you visit. It’s the best way to get the latest info on hours, fees, tours, and any special events that might be happening. That way, you’re all set for an unforgettable visit to one of America’s literary landmarks.



The Hemingway House, nestled in the heart of Key West, stands not just as a testament to a famous writer but as a gateway to understanding the intricate tapestry of Ernest Hemingway’s life.

The Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum offers a unique glimpse into the world of this literary giant, inviting visitors to step back in time and experience the environment that inspired some of the most significant works in American literature.

As you walk through its rooms and gardens, the legacy of Hemingway’s words and adventures resonate, making the Hemingway House a must-visit destination for anyone intrigued by the art of storytelling and the history of a remarkable individual.