Are you planning a trip to the Florida Keys and looking for more information on the Hemingway Home and Museum? You’ve come to the right place! Visiting the Ernest Hemingway Home is one of the best things to do in Key West!
Known for his short sentences, multiple wives, and six-toed cats, the famed American novelist was a member of the “Lost Generation”, a term coined by fellow writer Gertrude Stein.
The Lost Generation referred to those who were young adults in the 1920s, having survived World War 1, who suffered from a feeling of listlessness. Many, like Hemingway, moved to Paris and turned to the arts.
Among Hemingway’s most known works are his novels, The Sun Also Rises, A Farewell to Arms, For Whom the Bell Tolls, and The Old Man and the Sea.
The literary themes within his works usually include love, war, and loss. His works also often include nature and the wilderness, as Hemingway was an avid game hunter and fisherman.
After the birth of his first son, Hemingway made his home in Key West in the 1930s, living in a beautiful Spanish Colonial house close to the southern coast of the island. The house is now a popular tourist destination, with people able to tour the house and gardens. It was registered in the U.S. National Register of Historic Places in 1968.
Whether you are a fan of his work or not, the Hemingway Home and Museum is worth visiting, just to admire its beauty. Step into the past as you make your way through the estate…and say hello to the resident cats!
Where is the Ernest Hemingway Home located?
The Ernest Hemingway Home address is 907 Whitehead Street, Key West, FL 33040.
Located just off the main drag of Duval Street, the Hemingway Home can be found in the southwest area of Key West.
It is across the street from the Historic Key West Lighthouse (which would have been there in Hemingway’s day), one of the many historic lighthouses in Florida.
Ernest Hemingway’s house is within walkable distance of many hotels and restaurants in Key West!
How much does it cost to visit the Ernest Hemingway Home in Key West?
Admission tickets for the Hemingway Home cost $17 for adults. Children ages 6-12 years old are $7, and those 5 years old or younger are free! (Group rates for a dozen people or more are also available.)
Be aware, the Ernest Hemingway Home Florida is cash only!
Admission tickets include a 20-30 minute guided tour and access to the gardens.
Reservations are not required and tickets can be purchased at the entrance gate to the house.
If you are feeling particularly inspired though and wish to write in the same place as Hemingway, you can reserve three hours of writing time in his writing studio in the evenings for $1,500.
How late is the Hemingway Home open?
The Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum in Key West is open 365 days a year!
Their hours are 9 am to 5 pm, daily.
(The specially reserved writing hours are 4:30-7:30 pm, Monday through Thursday.)
Who owns the Ernest Hemingway Home in Key West?
The current owner of the Hemingway Home is Mike Morawski. His great aunt, Bernice, bought the house from the Hemingway estate and turned the Ernest Hemingway house into a museum in the 1960s. After that, it was inherited by Morawski’s mother.
Today it is owned by Mike Morawski, who has run the museum since the 1990s, with his children working there as well.
Visiting the Six-Toed Hemingway Cats in Key West
Perhaps the most enduring (and certainly most famous) aspect of the Hemingway Home is the presence of the six-toed cats. The museum is home to almost 60 felines that all carry the polydactyl gene, meaning “many toes”.
Most cats have five toes on their front feet, but because of a genetic condition, the Hemingway cats tend to have more than that. Their little thumbs make it look like they are wearing mittens!
Many of the cats at the museum are descendants of Snowball (or Snow White depending on who you talk to), a cat given to Hemingway by a ship’s captain back in the 1930s.
The cats at the Ernest Hemingway Home in Key West are all different colors and sizes. They have full access to the house and grounds. You can find them on the furniture, in the gardens, and even on the roof!
Be assured the cats have regular vet checkups and procedures and are well-taken care of.
Hemingway named his cats after famous individuals, so the museum has continued the tradition, with names such as Clark Gable, Billie Holiday, and Marilyn Monroe. Like all cats, they each have their own personalities.
Best Things to Do at the Hemingway Home in Key West
The best thing you can do at the Hemingway Home in Key West is to go inside! Although it is very pretty from the outside, it really is worth taking the tour inside.
You’ll be guaranteed to learn at least one thing you didn’t know about the author and his family.
After you’ve toured the house, walk around the gardens, and find Hemingway’s swimming pool on the grounds.
You can also visit the gift store for all sorts of Hemingway and Key West memorabilia. You can find Hemingway (and cat) apparel, gifts, souvenirs, and books (of course).
One of the neat things about buying one of Hemingway’s books from the home and museum is that it comes with a special embossed stamp on the inside!
Things to look for in the Ernest Hemingway Home in Key West
The Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum is designed to still look and feel like Hemingway’s residence, as well as a museum. Since it is a house museum there are fun, personal touches, and interesting things to look for on your tour of the place.
The Writing Studio
Hemingway’s Writing Studio isn’t actually in the main house! In a separate building on the grounds, the ground floor was a guest house while the top floor was converted into his space to write (which he did every morning).
The Wall of Wives
Hemingway had four wives throughout his life. In the Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum, there is a wall of photos of each of them: Hadley, Pauline, Martha, and Mary.
It was his second wife, Pauline, who lived in Key West with Hemingway. Much of the furnishing was done to her taste, as she had worked for Vanity Fair and Vogue.
The pool at the Ernest Hemingway Home was a very big deal back in the day. The in-grown pool was extremely expensive to put in and maintain. So much so that legend says Hemingway put the “last penny” he had in the wet cement. Keep an eye out for the penny that’s still there!
How long to spend at the Key West Hemingway House?
As mentioned before, the guided tour at the Hemingway Home and Museum takes about half an hour, but you could easily spend another half hour in the gardens, or checking out the gift shop.
All in all, you can plan to spend about an hour at the Hemingway house and feel confident that you’ve seen everything.
(However, if you’re a cat lover, plan extra time to say hi to the six-toed kitties!)
Beyond the Hemingway Home and Museum
If you really want to imagine was life was like during his time at the Hemingway house, you have to explore Hemingway’s neighborhood!
There are several bars that claim to have been Hemingway’s favorite, so you might as well visit each one, just to be sure.
Take a stroll in the Key West Historic Memorial Sculpture Garden and find the bronze bust of Hemingway, along with 35 other influential Key West residents.
A Hemingway-themed walking and restaurant tour is a great way to delve even deeper into the author’s life in Key West!
Book here: Hemingway Food and Walking Tour
We hope that you get to visit the Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum on your trip to Key West! The author certainly led an interesting life and has left his stamp on Key West even decades later.
From the polydactyl Hemingway cats to his literary works, there is a little something for everyone at the Hemingway house in Florida.