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Best Local History & Culture in Key West

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The Hemingway Home & Museum was the residence of the renowned author Ernest Hemingway. Hemingway was known both for his grander-than-life personality and his amazing writing, including the books The Sun Also Rises and Farewell to Arms. The rooms and the collections on display give you an insight into the life of this famous writer. Keep a look out for the museum's many polydactyl (six-toed) cats that are rumored to be descendants of Hemingway's pet cat Snow White.

Nestled in the recesses of the historic Old Town, the Little White House is a startling canopy of pristine white, which lends deep insights into the Truman Presidency. Formerly a naval base which served as the White House of America for the winter session until 1952 , this site is more like a breathing museum entrenched in a long-standing military history. To this day, functions, meetings and private events are held here, whereas elaborate tours unfold layers of the house's presidential and political history. Part of the U.S. National Register of Historic Places, this white-washed house yet retains some of its ancient features like well-furnished spaces including bedrooms and dining halls, treasured documents and opulent furniture. Harry S. Truman Little White House is an integral edifice etched on the pages of America's political history.

Artist John James Audubon, famed for his detailed drawings of birds and animals, once visited this handsome and historic two-story house that now bears his name. Audubon House, whose construction is typical of historic Key West, offers a self-guided audio tour guiding guests through the home and its lush, tropical garden. In the house are antique furnishings, old photographs and Audubon prints. A gift shop sells unusual items associated with the artist and the house, as well as souvenir items.

Anyone who enjoys tales about pirates and buried treasure will appreciate this small museum. Named for a local salvager who found sunken treasure aboard a wrecked Spanish galleon, the museum currently houses a collection of these treasures, including doubloons, solid gold bars and four sunken ships from as far back as 1560. The museum also shows a film on Mr. Fisher that describes his 1985 discovery.

This well-run local museum displays artifacts that represent the history of the Keys. Model ships, diver's equipment and other nautical themed items are exhibited. Displays include the daily life of the Keys' previous inhabitants. Located in an old fort, the museum features a lookout tower from which visitors can view the island below and the surrounding ocean.

Before tourism became Key West's major source of income,'wreckers' earned their living by salvaging what they could from ships wrecked on the reefs. At the Key West Shipwreck Historeum, you can learn about the 'wreckers' and see jewelry, china, house wares and other artifacts from the Isaac Allerton, which sank in 1856. An observation tower offers a great view.

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