Ernest Hemingway

hemingway“Sloppy Joe’s was Papa’s favorite haunt. Barefoot, with his shorts cinched with a rope and wearing a ragged T-shirt, he would make the trek down Duval after a six-hour writing jag . . . Sometimes Hemingway came alone and sat at the end of the long, curving bar, making notes. Josie Grunts (as Ernest called him) would be there, and Skinner, the 300-pound bartender, would fix a ‘Papa Dobles’: 2 1/2 jiggers of white Bacardi rum, the juice from half a grapefruit and two key limes, and 6 drops of maraschino. Skinner, ‘the giant black handyman with his Louis Armstrong smile, could always cadge a drink by squatting under the piano and lifting it off the floor for a few seconds.’ He was Joe’s regular drinkmaker and worked at Sloppy’s until he died in 1949.” —Sloppy Joe’s Bar: The First Fifty Years, 1983, Sharon Wells


Two of Ernest Hemingway’s uncashed royalty checks hang on the wall at Sloppy Joe’s Bar.

Jimmy Buffett’s Key West anthem, “Margaritaville,” reached No. 8 on the Billboard charts in 1977.

Robert the Haunted Doll resides at the Fort East Martello Museum & Gardens (don’t take his picture unless you ask permission!).

The Conch Republic Independence Celebration each April celebrates the island’s “secession” from the United States in 1982.

The Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum is home to approximately 40-50 polydactyl (six-toed) cats.

According to legend, Jimmy Buffett’s first Key West gig was at the Chart Room Bar.

The Key West Aquarium began construction as part of the Works Progress Administration program and opened in 1935.

At Sloppy Joe’s Bar hangs a Cuban record blue marlin (weighing 569 lbs.) caught by author Phil Caputo (A Rumor of War).

Set in Key West, Thomas McGuane’s 1973 novel, Ninety-Two in the Shade, was made into a movie in 1975 with Peter Fonda, Warren Oates and Margot Kidder.

Ernest Hemingway once dubbed Key West the “St. Tropez of the poor.”

Jimmy Buffett first arrived in Key West in November 1971 with singer and songwriter Jerry Jeff Walker (“Mr. Bojangles”).

Ernest Hemingway had the first residential pool built in Key West in the late 1930s at a cost of $20,000.

Duval Street is known as the “World’s Longest Street” since it runs from the Atlantic Ocean to the Gulf of Mexico.

The Harry S. Truman Little White House is billed as “Florida’s Only Presidential Museum.”

The Green Parrot Bar is billed as “A Sunny Place for Shady People.”

The Key West Cemetery features quirky inscriptions such as “I Told You I Was Sick” and “Devoted Fan of Singer Julio Iglesias.”

Dry Tortugas National Park lies nearly 70 miles West of Key West and is accessible only by seaplane or boat.

“The mere mention of Mel Fisher’s name in any of Key West’s rum-soaked watering holes starts arguments. Whatever the locals say in this Conch Republic of smugglers, millionaires, and edge-of-the-world dreamers, Fisher is a true American hero. Larger than life, he’s the greatest legend and mythmaker here since Hemingway walked Duval Street.” —”Mel Fisher Treasure Hunter,” Sub Aqua Journal, Nov./Dec. 1993

“The whiskey warmed his tongue and the back of his throat, but it did not change his ideas any, and suddenly, looking at himself in the mirror behind the bar, he knew that drinking was never going to do any good to him now. Whatever he had not he had, and it was from now on, and if he drank himself unconscious when he woke up it would be there.” —Ernest Hemingway, To Have and Have Not, 1937