5 of Hemingway’s Favorite Key West Haunts

“It’s the best place I’ve been any time, anywhere,” Ernest Hemingway wrote of Key West. In the early 1900s, Hemingway made Key West his home. Originally traveling to the keys to pick up a car, he explored the city and fell in love with the area. He eventually settled in Key West where he enjoyed deep sea fishing, writing novels, and making lifelong friends. Hemingway fancied many places along the keys, but a few specific locations were his favorite. Take a trip to Key West and stop by each of Hemingway’s favorite haunts.

Check Out Hemingway’s First Home in Key West

When Hemingway first reached Key West with his wife Pauline in April 1928, they lived in the Trev-Mor Hotel located at 314 Simonton Street. They resided at the hotel for two years before moving to their long-term residence on Whitehead Street. Although the hotel is not open to the public, you are able to visit the home’s atrium garden and gift shop on property.

Stop into the Hemingway House & Museum

With the help of Pauline’s uncle, Ernest and Pauline bought a Spanish Colonial home built in 1851. From 1931 to 1940, this house became home to Hemingway’s family, before Ernest moved to Cuba with his third wife. The house is now one of the most popular tourist attractions in Key West, and easily the best way to learn about Hemingway’s history in Key West.

Go Fishing

One of Hemingway’s favorite past times was deep water sport fishing. Introduced by Key West natives, Hemingway grew his love for fishing and began fishing regularly with a group of friends known as his ‘mob’. Spend the day fishing like Hemingway at the sportfishing capital of the world when you book fishing excursions from Cheeca Lodge.

Relive Hemingway’s Love for Cuba

Hemingway first visited Cuba on a family vacation traveling from Key West to Spain in 1928. He would later return for fishing excursions and ended up buying a home near Havana in 1940. The best way to learn about Key West’s rich Cuban heritage is at the San Carlos Institute, which was founded in 1871 as an educational center. The institute now houses a school, museum, library, and art gallery focused on Cuba’s history with the Cuban-American community.

Visit Dry Tortugas National Park

Just 70 miles west of Key West lies a cluster of 7 small islands known as the Dry Tortugas. One of these islands houses historic Fort Jefferson, one of the nation’s largest masonry forts from the 1800s. These islands were also a favorite fishing destination for Hemingway and his “Mob”. Spend the day fishing around the Dry Tortugas, or bring supplies and camp out for the night!

Top 10 Experiences in the Florida Keys

Go beyond the beach during your next visit to the Florida Keys. Think outside the box and you are sure to enjoy a truly one-of-a-kind vacation. From nearby excursions and attractions to scenic day trips, explore the top ten experiences in the Keys during your visit using our guide below.

1. Kayaking

Reserve the best seat in the house when you explore the Keys. Get an up-close view of the breathtaking natural landscape as you paddle through the bright blue waters. We recommend heading over to Indian Key, just a few short minutes from our door. Once there, you can go snorkeling in the clear water or explore the overgrown ruins.

2. Swim with Dolphins

One of the most famous Islamorada attractions, the Theater of the Sea is a must for anyone visiting the Keys. Here you can swim with dolphins, sea lions, sharks, and sting rays. They also offer a range of other aquatic activities, including sunset cruises, painting with sea lions, and feeding sea turtles.

3. Dry Tortugas

Carve out a day during your visit to make the trip down to the Dry Tortugas. This must-see Florida Keys attraction is a small group of islands home to the grand Fort Jefferson. Only accessible by boat or seaplane, Dry Tortugas showcases brilliant blue waters and a diverse collection of coral reefs and marine life. Get in touch with our concierge to learn how you can plan your day trip to this iconic Florida Keys destination.

4. The Seafood

One of the perks of visiting a beach town is access to some of the best seafood in the U.S. Always serving up the freshest catch of the day, our local Islamorada restaurants offer a delectable selection of your favorites from the sea. Dig into the flavor of the Keys at local restaurants including our own Atlantic’s Edge, the Lazy Days Restaurant, and Whale Harbor Seafood Buffet.

5. Local Beaches

While it’s great to explore beyond the local beaches, they still warrant a top spot on your Islamorada vacation. Spend a day catching some rays and splashing in the refreshing water. Find some of our favorite nearby beaches just minutes away from our hotel. Top your beach hit list with Anne’s Beach, Holiday Isle Beach, and Long Key State Park.

6. John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park

Drive 30 minutes up the keys and find one of the most well-known Florida Keys destinations: John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park. This park is approximately 70 nautical square miles and features breathtaking coral reefs and a diverse array of marine life.

7. Seven Mile Bridge

On your way down to the Dry Tortugas, be sure to make a pit stop at the Seven Mile Bridge. The famous bridge connects the Middle Keys to the Lower Keys, and is among the longest bridges in the world. Featuring scenic and sprawling ocean views, you won’t want to miss a photo-op here.

8. Bahia Honda State Park

Found just shy of an hour away, Bahia Honda State Park is another Keys attraction worthy of a day trip. Somewhat of a hidden gem, this state park offers endless opportunity for adventure. From kayaking and canoeing to snorkeling and bird watching, feed your need for exploration at this popular local attraction.

9. Robbie’s Marina of Islamorada

Home to the world-famous tarpon feeding, Robbie’s is a staple of the Middle Keys. Handfeed the massive tarpons, try your hand at a variety of watersports with their rental equipment, or dine-in and enjoy their signature cocktails and classic seafood.

10. Laura Quinn Wild Bird Sanctuary

Spanning seven acres, the Laura Quinn Wild Bird Sanctuary is a refuge for an array of injured birds. From great horned owls to green herons and brown pelicans, grab your binoculars as you try to spot some of the temporary and permanent residents of the sanctuary.

5 Reasons to Plan a Winter Escape to the Florida Keys

The cold winter months getting you down? Cheer yourself up with a getaway to Islamorada in the Florida Keys. Explore the best nearby sights and discover the local beauty as you take in the stunning landscape. Read on to see why winter is better on Islamorada and start planning an unforgettable Florida winter vacation at Cheeca Lodge.

Escape the Cold

Kiss the snow and chilling temperatures goodbye when you set off for our tropical paradise. We keep it warm year-round here in the Keys. Whether you want to head to our white sand beaches or cruise around the crystal-clear blue water, leave your coats at home and soak up some much-needed vitamin D.

Local Experiences

The Florida Keys offer visitors completely unique experiences you can’t find anywhere else. Just a few minutes from our doors, find the Theater of the Sea. Here you can swim with dolphins, sea lions, and sharks as well as meet alligators, sea turtles, and more. Next, thrill your inner adventurer and be an explorer for a day while you discover shipwrecks hidden below the surface.

Break Up the Long Winter Months

Each year, the winter months seem to drag on and on. With few holidays and unfavorable weather, the need for a getaway feels more necessary than ever. Make your escape to our island town and soak up the warm weather. The temperatures of the Keys never dip much below the mid-70s, so visitors can enjoy all that Islamorada has to offer during the winter.

Water Activities

Stay with us in Islamorada this winter and take to the sea where you can enjoy a variety of water activities. Unlike northern beaches, the water in the Keys stays warm all year. Embark on a day full of adventure where you can snorkel, parasail, jet ski, or scuba in the clear blue water. Or enjoy the water from above on a cruise around the scenic Florida Keys landscape.

Winter Sunsets

One of our favorite parts of winter in the Keys are the stunning sunsets. Trade cold gray skies for a vibrant kaleidoscope of color in Islamorada. Each evening around 6:30pm, head to the water and watch as the sky lights up with bright oranges, pinks, purples, and yellows. Snap some pictures and your Florida winter vacation is sure to be the envy of your Instagram feed.

4 Romantic Ideas for Valentine’s Day in the Florida Keys

Set the stage for an unforgettable Valentine’s Day in the heart of the Florida Keys. An intimate and inviting oasis, Islamorada offers visitors an escape from the hustle and bustle of every day. Whether you want to spend the day on the beach, get pampered at the spa, or dine out, delight in the romantic spirit of the Keys.

Couples Massage

Kick off your day of romance with a tranquil and rejuvenating couples’ massage. Soothe your senses and unwind next to your significant other in the comfort of the Spa at Cheeca Lodge. Couples can indulge in a variety of treatments including hot stone massages, body treatments, hydrotherapy, oceanside massages and more.

Beach Picnic

Spend the day under the sun with your loved one at one of Islamorada’s most pristine local beaches. Soak up some rays and feel refreshed in the salt and sand while enjoying a scenic beachside picnic. Quiet and intimate, some of our favorite nearby beaches include Anne’s Beach, Holiday Isle Beach, and Long Key State Park.

Sunset Cruise

What better way to spend your romantic Florida Keys vacation than out on the water? Set sail just before the sun sets – champagne in hand – to see vibrant tropical colors light up the sky as the sun goes down. Toast to the many happy years to come aboard our sunset cruises.

Romantic Dinner

A classic for a reason, nothing goes better with Valentine’s Day than a romantic candlelit dinner. Get the full Florida Keys experience when you sit down for an evening of tropically inspired cuisine at our flagship restaurant, Atlantic’s Edge. Afterwards, stop by our Tiki Bar for deliciously crafted cocktails and sweeping views of shimmering Atlantic Ocean.

The perfect setting for an unforgettably romantic Florida Keys vacation, plan your stay at Cheeca Lodge using our Valentine’s Day guide.

Follow the Shipwreck Trail and Dive Through World History

The Florida Keys are home to a variety of popular tourist attractions, including everything from beaches to bars. Lesser known to those visiting, the Florida Keys also house a number of shipwrecks, preserved underwater for years. Scattered along the coral reefs and buried in the sandy shallows a few miles off shore, a trail of nine shipwrecks make up Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary’s Shipwreck Trail.

Explore the rich history of some of the most famous shipwrecks in Florida.

The San Pedro

Found off the coast of Indian Key, find The San Pedro below the surface. This ship was a part of the 1733 Spanish treasure fleet and was caught by a hurricane in the Straits of Florida. The damage was too much and the ship sank 18 feet into the water one mile south of Indian Key.

The Bentwood

On a voyage from Tampa, Florida to Norfolk, Virginia, the Bentwood sank between the French Reef and Dixie Shoals in 1942. The Bentwood was 360 feet long and sank after colliding with another ship. It is among the most popular shipwreck dives in the Keys.

The Thunderbolt

A military ship used during World War II, the Thunderbolt was intentionally sunk in 1986 as part of a project with the Florida Keys Artificial Reef Association. The Thunderbolt now offers divers a breathtaking experience, as it lies fully intact and upright, 120 feet below the surface. Divers can find the ship about four miles south of Marathon, Florida and Key Colony Beach.

Go on your own diving adventure during your stay with us in Islamorada. Get in touch with our team plan your visit and for tips on getting to the Shipwreck Trail.

Five Unusual Sculptures You Must Visit in the Florida Keys

Diverse and eclectic, the Florida Keys offer visitors a range of unique sightseeing opportunities. Explore the local art and cultural scene and discover an array of indoor and outdoor sculptures. From a larger-than-life replica of marine life to a haunted doll, light up your social feeds with images of these Florida Keys art classics.

Christ of the Abyss

Plunge into the mesmerizing depths off the coast of Key Largo and uncover a haunting underwater sculpture. Found just below the surface, the statue – Christ of the Abyss – is a 4,000-pound, 8.6-foot bronze statue of Christ installed at the Key Largo Dry Rocks in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary.

巫迪文 / WIKIMEDIA COMMONS

Betsy Lobster

Made from fiberglass, Betsy is a 30 X 40 ft. biologically correct model of a Florida Spiny Lobster. She was created in 1980 by sculptor Richard Blaze to celebrate the species, which is native to the Florida Keys. Betsy is among South Florida’s most popular roadside attractions.

JOHN SMITH / FLICKR CREATIVE COMMONS

Florida Keys Sculpture Trail

A collection of innovative and inspired works of art, the Florida Keys Sculpture Trail features one-of-a-kind pieces flown in from the Art Students League of New York. Our favorite additions to the trail include Everything Between by Sarah Thompson Moore. This experimental sculpture is made of carbon and stainless steel and resembles both a cage and a shelter. Avis Gloria & Nature Eterna by Sheila Berger is another standout from the trail. This giant bird made of forged stainless-steel stands on a pedestal in Key West.

Robert the Doll

Sometimes referred to as “the world’s most terrifying doll,” the figure – which is believed to be haunted – is part of the collection of the Martello Gallery Key West Art and Historical Museum. It was the inspiration behind the popular horror film “Child’s Play” and continues to fright and delight visitors from around the globe.

Cayobo / Flickr Creative Commons

 

 

Remembering a Legend: George H.W. Bush

Known for his years of service in World War II and his major accomplishments on the international stage, the late former President George H.W. Bush served our country with respect and dignity during his single presidential term and years of public service. Another lesser known fact about our 41st president is that he always had a fondness for the Florida Keys, often making trips down to our very own Cheeca Lodge.

President Bush visited our Florida Keys resort during the years of his presidency, with First Lady Barbara Bush and a full security detail. The Florida Keys provided President Bush with a calming respite from the world’s most high-pressured job. Always one of the kindest, most thoughtful, and charming guests to grace Cheeca Lodge, President Bush will be remembered as an icon of American history. In his honor, we have created a guide to some of former President Bush’s favorite things to do on a visit to the Florida Keys.

Fishing

Both former President Bush and First Lady Barbara Bush enjoyed a quiet morning of fishing during their stays at Cheeca Lodge. There’s nothing quite like casting off into the calming waters, while gazing out at the stunning surrounding landscape. Whether you want to go out to sea on a fishing charter or enjoy a causal day of fishing off the docks, enjoy the president’s favorite pastime during your stay.

Jogging

President Bush would often kick off his morning with a refreshing jog on the scenic roads near our resort. Often times, guests would catch a glimpse of the president during the daily outings. Explore the president’s favorite trails and other picturesque routes on Islamorada.

Spa Treatments

Perhaps no one more deserving of a relaxing spa day, the president would often request massage treatments – provided on-site – during his stays at Cheeca. Prior to a presidential visit, our team would comb through every detail of his stay, including everything from the rooms, menus, and seating charts, to special requirements, like spa services.

We honor and remember the late President Bush and his legacy, and will greatly miss one of our most beloved guests.