Key West, a small yet vibrant island city off the southern coast of Florida, full of rich history and culture, which have contributed to its unique and fascinating character. As early as the 1820s, Key West was renowned for its thriving cigar-making industry, which brought in immigrants from Cuba and Spain. During its heyday, the island was known as the “Cigar Capital of the World,” and its factories churned out millions of cigars each year. Additionally, because of its strategic location on the edge of the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean, Key West became a critical naval base during the American Civil War and later played an important role in the Spanish-American War.
But beyond its economic and military significance, Key West has always been a haven for artists, writers, and other creative souls. Its beautiful beaches, colorful buildings, and vibrant street life have inspired countless artisans and provided a fertile ground for cultural exchange. One of the most famous of these artists was Ernest Hemingway, who made Key West his home for over a decade. Hemingway’s legacy is still deeply felt on the island, where he wrote some of his most famous novels, including “A Farewell to Arms” and “For Whom the Bell Tolls.” His former home, now a museum, is one of the island’s most popular attractions.
Key West is also well-known for its diverse range of cultural festivals, including Fantasy Fest, which draws revelers from around the world for a week-long celebration of costuming, music, and debauchery. Other popular festivals include the Key West Songwriters Festival, the Key West Literary Seminar, and the Key West Film Festival.