5 Facts You Never Knew About Key West
Picture Key West. What do you see? Most people would likely mention the crystal blue waters, towering palm trees, and white sand beaches. However, Key West is a historic city — it’s been around since the 19th century! — full of unique cultural attractions and unexpected surprises. Go beyond the beach and read on for our top five fun facts about the Florida Keys.
Ernest Hemingway Was a Key West Resident
Beloved and acclaimed writer Ernest Hemingway called Key West home for several years in the 1930s. After a stint in Paris, Hemingway made his way south, eventually arriving in Key West by way of Cuba. During his time in the Keys, Hemingway enjoyed one of the most prolific periods of his career, writing “A Farewell to Arms,” “Death in the Afternoon,” and “Green Hills of Africa.” His legacy lives on at the Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum. Visitors can explore the grounds of the famous author’s former home for a glimpse into Hemingway’s life in Key West.
Roosters Roam the Streets
Take a stroll around the streets of Key West and you might notice some unusual inhabitants: chickens! Hens and roosters have called Key West home for decades, roaming around the streets and crowing at passersby. Even Duval Street, one of the busiest parts of town, will see countless chickens clucking around. Some might find these town residents to be a nuisance, but most see them as a bright addition to the local color.
Our Proximity to Cuba
Don’t be fooled by our Florida address — Key West is actually closer to Cuba than the city of Miami. As showcased on the Southernmost Point Buoy, Key West is just 90 miles away from the coast of Cuba, while Miami is a whopping 150 miles further north. Our close proximity to Cuba has infused the island with a unique blend of Cuban culture, seen most notably in the deliciously authentic Cuban restaurants.
We House the Largest Coral Reef in the US
Discover a whole world beneath the water’s surface at the Florida Reef, the third-largest coral reef system in the world. Known by several names, including the Great Florida Reef and the Florida Reef Tract, the Florida Reef is about four miles wide and houses nearly 1,400 species of marine plants and animals. Be sure to grab your snorkeling gear and explore the underwater ecosystem during your visit.
The Key West Six-Toed Cats
Among the many things Hemingway brought to Key West, one of his lesser-known contributions to the island is the famous polydactyl — six-toed cats. On his move to the Keys, Hemingway brought with him a white six-toed cat by the name of Snow White. Today, the Hemingway Home and Museum is home to about 50 six-toed cats. Key West’s most cuddly residents can been seen in a variety of breeds — from calico to tabby — on a visit to Hemingway’s former home.
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