Travel to Florida: Hemingway Days in Key West, July 16 – 21, 2013

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Running of the Bulls is One of the Quirky Events during Hemingway Days in Key West, Fla.

Running of the Bulls is One of the Quirky Events during Hemingway Days in Key West, Fla.

Ernest Hemingway, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author affectionately referred as Papa Hemingway called Key West home during the 1930s. Classics the author penned during his stay include The Old Man and The Sea and To Have and Have Not. Celebrating 33 years Hemingway Days 2013 kicks off July 16 with literary and quirky festivities through July 21, the 114th anniversary of the author’s birth.

Quirky Side of Hemingway Days in Key West
White-bearded stocky men wearing wool sweaters are a common sight during the six-day festival. More than 100 men are expected to participate in the Hemingway Look-Alike contest. All look-alike judging takes place at Sloppy Joe’s Bar  a favorite Ernest Hemingway hangout. (201 Duval Street)

Running of the Bulls is one of those quirky, must-see Key West events on Saturday outside Sloppy Joe’s. Unlike Pamplona, Spain’s popular running of the bulls, there is no chance of anyone being gored by an ornery bovine. Hemingway Days bulls are “unique” and pushed and pulled through a Key West block with festival goers cheering. Arrive early for a photo opportunity with the Papas.

Showing a little muscle, Papa look-alikes and fans will compete in the annual Arm Wrestling Contest taking place at Sloppy Joe’s. Men and women are encouraged to show their strength.

When Visiting Key West, Be Sure to Tour the Ernest Hemingway Home & Museum

When Visiting Key West, Be Sure to Tour the Ernest Hemingway Home & Museum

Additional Hemingway Days Festivities
The Key West Marlin Fishing Tournament, 5k Sunset Run, Lazy Dog Paddleboard Race, a street fair and art show are some of the other festivities taking place throughout the weekend. Visit the festival’s site for a complete schedule.

A Key West visit is complete with a trip to the Ernest Hemingway Home & Museum. Hear entertaining stories about the writer during the guided tour or just wander without a guide. Four-legged residents, the polydactyl cats (six-toed), are descendants of Hemingway’s felines and roam and lounge throughout the house and grounds at their leisure but don’t pick them up! (907 Whitehead St., Adult admission is $13.)

The “Hemingway in Key West” exhibit is on display at the Key West Museum of Art & History at Custom House. The museum is open daily 9:30 to 4:30 p.m. Mention Hemingway Days to receive discounted admission. Admission is usually $7, discounts given for AAA, seniors and locals with ID. (281 Front St.)

Visit www.HemingwayDays.org for a complete list of Hemingway Days activities.

Cats, Some Polydactyl, Lounge at the Hemingway Home in Key West, Fla.

Cats, Some Polydactyl, Lounge at the Hemingway Home in Key West, Fla.

Where to Stay During Hemingway Days
Where to sleep in Key West? Try one of the six inns offered by Historic Key West Inns. They offer accommodations fitting every travel style with convenient locations in Key West’s Old Town. (www.historickeywestinns.com, Tel: 305-294-5229)

I haven’t stayed here yet but Parrot Key Resort is Key West’s’ newest luxury, waterfront accommodations and is offering the Hemingway Days & Parrot Key Nights package designed to immerse all five senses in the world of Hemingway. I love the components of this package! It includes:

  • Overnight accommodations for two at Parrot Key Resort
  • Two adult tickets to the Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum
  • One Pulitzer Prize-winning novel written by Ernest Hemingway, The Old Man and the Sea
  • Two peanut butter and onion sandwiches from the poolside Cafe Blue ( Yes, Hemingway ate those types of sandwiches.)
  • Two signature Hemingway-inspired Daiquiris from Café Blue

The package is available now (it launched July 1, 2013) and prices vary depending on dates. Advance reservations required and based on availability. I found rates ranging from $199 to $349 plus tax a night. Visit the Parrot Key Resort website or call the property directly to secure your reservations. (2801 N. Roosevelt Bld., www.ParrotKeyResort.com, Tel: 855.732.0172)

Key West is one of those places where I feel at home whether visiting solo or with someone. My sister Lizzy and I had a great girlfriend getaway in Key West several years ago during Hemingway Days. It’s one of the quirky, must-attend festivals every fan of the author and lover of the Keys should experience at least once in a lifetime. And if you’re a Floridian, it should be on your must-do list, too.

Have you been to Key West?

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Author: Solo Travel Girl

Originally from Buffalo, N.Y., a hiking trail led Jennifer Huber, aka: Solo Travel Girl, to a career path in tourism. She has worked in the tourism industry for more than 20 years including 10 years with a park management company in Yellowstone, Death Valley and Everglades National Park. She currently lives in Southwest Florida, and maintains this travel blog with the goal of inspiring others to travel alone, not lonely.

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