Even though Key West and the surrounding islands that make up the Florida Keys got their reputation from natural at-tractions like sea kayaking and dolphin watching, these Caribbean islands at the end of Florida also feature a interesting literary tradition. Sometimes, you just want to relax and enjoy some culture. Despite Key West’s reputation as “a drinking island with a fishing problem,” there is a considerable amount of cultural appeal to enjoy during your Key West vacation.
The Florida Keys, stretching 125 miles in length, offers a variety of cultural treasures and events, from performing arts and musical shows to top-quality films, art galleries and literary venues.
Key West is home to the art galleries, theatres and museums, but it’s probably best known for its ties to literary giants. Tennessee Williams, the noted playwright who created Blanche DuBois and A Streetcar Named Desire, maintained a Key West home for dec-ades. Poet Robert Frost was a frequent visitor to the island.
Perhaps the most famous author associated with Key West is Pulitzer Prize winner Earnest Hemingway. He spent winters in Key West throughout the 1930s. In fact, he wrote To Have and Have Not in Key West, the only novel he wrote during the 1930s. He wrote and worked in a writing studio on the second floor of a converted carriage house. Legend has it that it was an ideal location, right across from the lighthouse, because it was easy for Hemingway to find again after an evening getting drunk at Sloppy Joe’s bar.
Hemingway’s influence on Key West was so profound that each summer the island stages a celebration of the writ-er’s life and times in Key West. In fact, there’s even a Papa Hemingway look-alike contest. There’s also a wintertime event to promote literary excellence called the Key West Literary Semi-nar.
Many of the island’s most noted historical sites are best seen from an Old Town Trolley or the popular Conch Tour Train. However, walking tours, scooters and even electric cars are a fun way to travel between the historical and cultural attractions.
A tribute to playwright Tennessee Williams, his eponymous theatre is housed on the campus of Florida Keys Community College. Productions include musicals, comedies, even pops concerts and burlesque.
Key West is also the home of the Tropic Cinema, the only non-profit inde-pendent film multiplex located in South Florida. Founded by the Key West Film Socie-ty, the Tropic Cinema opened its doors in 2004. Since then the Tropic has shown a full schedule of art films, documentaries, and films shot in the Florida Keys.
The Florida Keys offers a variety of cultural at-tractions and events, from performing arts and musical shows to quality films, art galleries and literary venues. Many of the best are found in Key West, making it an ideal vacation destination for visitors and travelers alike who appreciate culture as much as they appreciate the tropical climate in this popular destination.