10 Facts About Key West

As we set foot on the charming island of Key West, it becomes apparent that this vibrant destination holds more than meets the eye. Tucked away amidst its idyllic beaches and vibrant sunsets lie intriguing tales and hidden treasures waiting to be uncovered. In this article, we dive deep into the mysteries of Key West as we unveil 10 fascinating facts that shed light on its captivating history, mesmerizing natural beauty, and unique cultural tapestry. Embark on this journey with us as we unravel the secrets that make Key West an enchanting and irresistible destination for explorers and wanderers alike.

Key Takeaways:

  • Ernest Hemingway wrote the majority of his most famous works while living in Key West in the 1930s, and his son was also born there.
  • Originally known as Cayo Hueso, or Bone Island, Key West got its name from the remains of Calusa Indians discovered in the area.
  • The Key West Aquarium, which opened in 1934, is the only aquarium in Key West and had an admission fee of just 15 cents at that time.
  • The Key West Cemetery is the final resting place of approximately 100,000 individuals, which is more than three times the current population of Key West.
  • These fascinating facts about Key West show the city’s rich history, cultural significance, and unique character.

Table of Contents

10 Facts About Key West

10 facts about key west

Key West, a vibrant and captivating destination, holds a treasure trove of fascinating facts that many travelers might not be aware of. In this article, we’ll delve into the lesser-known aspects of this extraordinary place, shedding light on its historical significance, stunning natural beauty, vibrant culture, and quirky charm. So, fasten your seatbelts as we embark on a journey to uncover the hidden gems of Key West!

1. Hemingway’s Magical Haven

Did you know that Key West was once the sanctuary for one of the world’s most celebrated writers, Ernest Hemingway? In the 1930s, Hemingway resided in Key West and wrote the majority of his renowned literary works in this very place. Moreover, it was here that his son was born, leaving a remarkable legacy that still echoes throughout the city.

2. Cayo Hueso – The Island’s True Name

While Key West may be the name that graces the maps and travel brochures, its original name is Cayo Hueso, meaning “Bone Island” in Spanish. This intriguing moniker was bestowed upon the island due to the discovery of the remains of the Calusa Indians, a Native American tribe, who once inhabited the area.

3. Unveiling the Key West Aquarium

Immerse yourself in a unique and historic experience at the Key West Aquarium, the sole aquarium on the island. This aquatic wonderland opened its doors in 1934, allowing visitors to marvel at a variety of marine creatures. What’s even more astonishing is the fact that admission to this fascinating attraction was once a mere 15 cents! Oh, how times have changed!

4. Key West Cemetery: A Final Resting Place

The Key West Cemetery, seemingly innocuous at first glance, holds an intriguing secret. As you wander through the tombstones, you’ll be astounded to learn that it is home to approximately 100,000 people who have found their eternal rest within its peaceful grounds. Surprisingly, this number surpasses the current living population of Key West not by a fraction, but by more than three times!

5. The Historic US Route 1: An Engineering Marvel

Prepare to be amazed by the engineering feat that is the Overseas Highway, part of the legendary US Route 1. Spanning 113 miles from mainland Florida to Key West, this iconic roadway encompasses an astonishing 42 bridges, traversing breathtaking vistas of turquoise waters. Journeying along this route is akin to embarking on an adventure where land and sea converge.

6. Sundown Celebrations at Mallory Square

As the sun begins its descent, Key West comes alive with a dazzling spectacle. Head to Mallory Square, a vibrant and picturesque plaza, and witness the mesmerizing sunset celebration. Street performers, artists, and vendors gather to create an enchanting carnival-like atmosphere, immersing you in the infectious energy and captivating spirit of Key West.

7. Conch Republic: The Independent State

Enter the realm of the Conch Republic, an imaginative and quirky gesture that has become an emblem of Key West’s unconventionality. In 1982, the city “seceded” from the United States to protest a border blockade. Although it may appear whimsical, the Conch Republic stands as a testament to the unique spirit and independent mindset of Key West’s vibrant residents.

8. The Legendary Mile Marker Zero

Take a stroll along the US Route 1 and seek out a truly iconic landmark of Key West—the Mile Marker Zero. This symbolic point marks the beginning (or ending) of the transcontinental US highway, serving as a tangible representation of the island’s connection with the rest of the nation. Snap a photo to capture this extraordinary moment!

9. Ernest Hemingway’s Feline Friends

Prepare to be inundated with a furry frenzy as you visit the former residence of Ernest Hemingway, which is now a museum. The author’s fondness for polydactyl (six-toed) cats has left a lasting legacy. Even to this day, approximately 40 to 50 cats, many of them descendants of Hemingway’s original pets, roam freely around the property, adding an extra touch of charm to this already captivating place.

10. The Southernmost Point Buoy: A Symbol of Latitude

No visit to Key West is complete without a stop at the Southernmost Point Buoy—a striking concrete marker that designates the southernmost tip of the continental United States. Standing just 90 miles from Cuba, this buoy serves as a symbolic reminder of Key West’s geographical significance. Pose for a photo here to commemorate your journey to this remarkable destination.

Key West, a city brimming with history, culture, and natural beauty, awaits your discovery. Whether you’re an avid traveler seeking hidden gems or an adventurous soul in search of the extraordinary, these ten facts offer a glimpse into the wonders that lie beneath the surface of this captivating island. So, pack your bags and prepare to embark on an unforgettable adventure in Key West—the ultimate destination for those who yearn to unveil the unseen.

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Famous Past Residents of Key West

Key Takeaways:
– Key West has been home to several famous past residents, adding to its rich cultural history.
– Notable figures like Ernest Hemingway, Judy Blume, and Jimmy Buffett have all found inspiration in the laid-back charm of Key West.
– From authors and musicians to civic leaders and poets, Key West has attracted a diverse range of talented individuals over the years.


Ernest Hemingway, Judy Blume, Jimmy Buffett, and More: Exploring the Famous Past Residents of Key West

Key West, the southernmost city of the contiguous United States, is not only known for its stunning natural beauty and vibrant culture but also for its famous past residents. These iconic figures have left an indelible mark on the island’s history and added to its quirky charm. Let’s delve into the lives of some of Key West’s most noteworthy inhabitants.

Ernest Hemingway: The Literary Legend Who Called Key West Home

Ernest Hemingway, an esteemed author known for his literary masterpieces, resided in Key West for many years. This idyllic island served as his sanctuary, where he wrote some of his most celebrated works, including “For Whom the Bell Tolls” and “The Old Man and the Sea.” Today, visitors can explore Hemingway’s former residence, now a museum, which is home to approximately 40-50 polydactyl cats, descendants of Hemingway’s beloved pets.

Judy Blume: A Coming-of-Age Author with Key West Connections

Judy Blume, a famous author renowned for her coming-of-age novels, spends a significant portion of her year in Key West. Originally from New Jersey, Blume found inspiration in this vibrant island community, capturing the essence of Key West’s unique atmosphere in her writings.

Jimmy Buffett: The Laid-Back Troubadour of Key West

Key West’s musical scene is incomplete without mentioning Jimmy Buffett. This singer-songwriter, known for his carefree, tropical tunes, found solace in the laid-back lifestyle of Key West. His songs, such as “Margaritaville,” perfectly encapsulate the island’s relaxed ambiance and have become synonymous with the spirit of Key West.

Other Notable Key West Residents and their Contributions

Beyond these literary and musical luminaries, Key West has been home to several other well-known individuals. Bronson Arroyo, a professional baseball player, also calls this island paradise his home. Sandy Cornish, a civic leader, has made significant contributions to the Key West community. Wallace Stevens, a prominent poet, found inspiration in Key West, often incorporating elements of the island’s beauty into his works. Shel Silverstein, another renowned author, has ties to Key West, further cementing the island’s reputation as a creative haven.

Key West’s Charismatic Appeal

Beyond its famous past residents, Key West offers a myriad of captivating aspects that make it an extraordinary destination. With its agreeable weather, magnificent natural surroundings, and a laid-back atmosphere, Key West provides a perfect oasis for seasoned travelers and curious adventurers alike. The city’s vibrant culture, great fishing and diving opportunities, and unique six-toed cats at Ernest Hemingway’s house add to its allure. Moreover, history buffs can explore Truman’s Little White House, which served as President Harry S. Truman’s residence during his presidency.

Key Takeaways:
– Ernest Hemingway, Judy Blume, Jimmy Buffett, and other famous individuals have called Key West home, leaving an enduring impact on the island.
– Key West’s rich cultural history includes notable residents from various fields, such as literature, music, and civic leadership.
– The island’s laid-back atmosphere, natural beauty, and vibrant culture contribute to its status as an extraordinary destination.

Sources:
24 North Hotel
thekeywester.com

The Vibrant Cultural Scene in Key West

Key Takeaways:
– Key West, Florida, is renowned for its vibrant cultural scene, which encompasses art, music, literature, and performances.
– The city’s creative spirit is evident in its art galleries, theaters, festivals, and live music venues.
– Key West’s cultural diversity is reflected in its fusion of influences from the Caribbean, Latin America, and Europe.
– Visitors to Key West can immerse themselves in the city’s cultural offerings by exploring its museums, attending live performances, and engaging with local artists and musicians.

Key West, Florida is not just a paradise for sun-seekers and history buffs; it is also a thriving hub of artistic expression and creative energy. The city’s vibrant cultural scene is a captivating tapestry of art, music, literature, and performances that truly sets it apart. From lively art galleries to captivating theater productions, Key West offers a multitude of cultural experiences that celebrate the city’s rich heritage and creative spirit.

One of the highlights of Key West’s cultural scene is its dynamic art community. The city boasts a plethora of art galleries showcasing a diverse range of artistic styles and mediums. Visitors can wander through these galleries, admiring works by local and internationally acclaimed artists, or even attend art openings and meet the creators themselves. The fusion of influences from the Caribbean, Latin America, and Europe creates a unique and vibrant art scene that is both refreshing and inspiring.

In addition to visual art, Key West is also a haven for performing arts enthusiasts. The city is home to several theaters that host a variety of captivating performances, ranging from classic plays and musicals to cutting-edge experimental productions. Whether it’s a thought-provoking drama or a lively musical, attending a performance in Key West offers an opportunity to immerse oneself in the city’s cultural fabric and experience the magic of live theater.

Literature holds a special place in Key West’s cultural landscape, thanks in part to the city’s rich literary history. Ernest Hemingway, one of America’s most celebrated authors, called Key West home and found inspiration within its vibrant community. Today, the legacy of Hemingway and other esteemed writers is celebrated through literary events, readings, and even museum tours of their former residences. For book lovers, Key West offers a unique opportunity to explore the spaces where literary masterpieces were born and to connect with the city’s storied literary heritage.

No discussion of Key West’s cultural scene would be complete without mentioning its thriving music scene. The city pulsates with the rhythm of live music, with numerous venues hosting talented musicians who perform a wide range of genres. From lively bars and intimate lounges to open-air concerts and music festivals, Key West offers an abundance of opportunities to dance, sing along, and immerse oneself in the soul-stirring melodies of the island.

To fully appreciate Key West’s vibrant cultural scene, visitors can engage with local artists and musicians through workshops, classes, and cultural events. These experiences provide an intimate glimpse into the creative processes and inspirations behind the city’s artistic landscape. Whether it’s attending art workshops, participating in music jam sessions, or joining literary discussions, engaging with Key West’s creative community allows travelers to deepen their connection with the city’s cultural heartbeat.

In conclusion, Key West’s vibrant cultural scene is a treasure trove of artistic expression, creativity, and heritage. From its thriving art galleries and theaters to its literary legacy and pulsating music venues, the city offers a wealth of cultural experiences that beckon travelers to explore, engage, and be inspired. Key West invites visitors to embrace its vibrant culture and discover the hidden gems that make it a destination like no other.

Sources:
– Discover Walks – Top 10 amazing facts about Key West Florida
– Destguides – 22 Fun Facts About Key West, Florida, That May Surprise You

The quirky traditions and events in Key West

##Key Takeaways:
  • Key West is known for its unique traditions and events that add to its quirky charm.
  • The city hosts colorful festivals, wacky competitions, and offbeat celebrations throughout the year.
  • Visitors to Key West can immerse themselves in the local culture and experience these one-of-a-kind traditions and events.

Key West is not just a tropical paradise with good weather, amazing food, and epic outdoor excursions. It is a place that embraces its quirkiness and showcases it through a range of traditions and events. From eccentric festivals to offbeat competitions, Key West offers experiences that are both charming and unforgettable.

1. Fantasy Fest: A Carnival of Creativity

One of the most famous and flamboyant events in Key West is the “Fantasy Fest.” Every October, the streets come alive with vibrant costumes, elaborate floats, and imaginative body painting. This ten-day carnival celebrates creativity and self-expression, attracting thousands of people from all over the world. From the mesmerizing parade to the outrageous parties, Fantasy Fest is a must-see spectacle that showcases the free-spirited nature of Key West.

2. Hemingway Days: Honoring the Literary Legend

Key West has a deep connection to the renowned writer Ernest Hemingway, and every July, the island pays homage to his legacy during “Hemingway Days.” This multi-day festival includes events such as the “Papa Look-alike Contest,” where bearded men gather to compete for the title of the most convincing Hemingway doppelganger. Visitors can explore Hemingway’s former residence, now a museum, and participate in literary readings and discussions. Hemingway Days encapsulate the literary spirit of Key West and offer a unique opportunity to delve into the world of this iconic author.

3. Conch Republic Independence Celebration: A Quirky Secession

In a tongue-in-cheek gesture, Key West celebrates its “independence” each April during the “Conch Republic Independence Celebration.” This event commemorates the time when Key West “seceded” from the United States in 1982 to protest a border checkpoint. The festival features a mock “conch shell” dropping to mark the start of the celebration, street parties, and parades. Join the locals and embrace the playful spirit of the Conch Republic as they revel in their unique status.

4. Key West Poker Run: A High-Speed Adventure

For motorcycle enthusiasts and thrill-seekers, the “Key West Poker Run” is a thrilling event that combines a scenic ride with a poker challenge. Participants ride their motorcycles from Miami to Key West, making stops along the way to collect playing cards. Once in Key West, the collected cards are used to create a poker hand, with the highest-ranking hand winning a grand prize. This high-speed adventure attracts riders from all over the country and offers an exhilarating experience for both participants and spectators.

5. Tropic Cinema’s Annual Oscar Party: A Red Carpet Affair

If you’re a movie lover, Key West offers a unique way to experience the glitz and glamour of the Academy Awards. The Tropic Cinema, a beloved local theater, hosts an annual Oscar Party that brings together film enthusiasts dressed in their finest attire. Attendees can watch the live broadcast of the Oscars on the big screen, participate in trivia contests, and savor delectable cuisine and cocktails. With its elegant ambiance and film-inspired decor, the Tropic Cinema’s Oscar Party adds a touch of Hollywood magic to Key West.

6. Zombie Bike Ride: Weird and Wonderful

Combining the surreal with the spooky, Key West’s “Zombie Bike Ride” is a sight to behold. Held in October, this event encourages participants to dress up as zombies and ride their bicycles along the island’s streets. From gory makeup to tattered zombie costumes, the creativity on display is both weird and wonderful. Join the horde of undead cyclists and contribute to the unique atmosphere of Key West during this spine-chilling and amusing event.

7. Sloppy Joe’s Hemingway® Look-Alike Contest: Channeling the Icon

As one of Ernest Hemingway’s favorite hangouts, Sloppy Joe’s Bar pays tribute to the iconic writer with the annual “Hemingway® Look-Alike Contest.” In tribute to the man himself, bearded participants gather to showcase their resemblance to the legendary author. The contest brings together Hemingway enthusiasts from around the world and offers a glimpse into the enduring impact of his literary contributions.

8. Schooner Wharf Bar’s Conch Republic Birthday Celebration: A Waterfront Fiesta

Schooner Wharf Bar, a popular waterfront establishment, hosts the “Conch Republic Birthday Celebration” every April. This lively event commemorates the “birth” of the Conch Republic and features live music, food, drinks, and a grand birthday cake cutting ceremony. Join the festivities and revel in the vibrant atmosphere as Key West celebrates its unique heritage.


Key West is a place that revels in its unconventional nature. The quirky traditions and events it offers are a testament to the island’s vibrant culture and welcoming spirit. From imaginative festivals to playful competitions, these experiences add to the allure of Key West and make it a destination like no other.

Sources:
Discover Walks
– Fantasy Fest Official Website

10 facts about key west

FAQ

Q1: Why is Key West known for its good weather and climate?

A1: Key West has an average high temperature of 82 degrees Fahrenheit and an average low of 73, making it an ideal destination for tourists. The climate of Key West is favorable for outdoor activities.

Q2: What kind of food can I expect to find in Key West?

A2: Key West offers a variety of delicious food options, including seafood, key lime pie, and opportunities for al fresco dining. The island is known for its hotels, restaurants, and bars that serve amazing food.

Q3: What outdoor excursions are available in Key West?

A3: Key West provides various outdoor excursions that are both thrilling and memorable. Some popular options include sunset party cruises on catamarans, where tourists can join a party and sail while enjoying the beautiful sunset.

Q4: What are some accommodation options in Key West?

A4: Key West offers a wide range of accommodation options to suit every traveler’s preferences. From charming and iconic hotels to modern and luxurious resorts, Key West has it all. Some highly recommended places to stay include Sunset Key Cottages and Havana.

Q5: Where can I find more information about Key West?

A5: Discover Walks is a website that provides insights on various travel destinations, including Key West. They offer more details and recommendations for exploring the city, including its fascinating facts and attractions.