Whether you like his writing or you just appreciate the man's love of booze and fishing, there's no doubt that Ernest Hemingway knew how to enjoy the finer things in life.
He spent a lot of time traveling across America (and the world!) and was notorious for his fondness for alcohol. Just do yourself a favor if you do decide to hit up some of his old hangouts and take his advice: "Never go on trips with anyone you don't love."
Hemingway was born in Oak Park, Illinois, just outside of Chicago, in 1899.The home where he was born and spent the first years of his life has been restored to look as it might have been while young Ernest and his family lived there at the turn of the century.
Ernest spent his formative early years here, along with his sibilings, parents and extended family. It's open to the public for tours on weekends, thanks to the Ernest Hemingway Foundation of Oak Park. The Foundation also owns and is currently restoring the house where the Hemingway family moved after they left the first home. On July 19th, they'll be holding a Hemingway in Paris party to celebrate the author's 115th birthday, and the next day they'll have lots of family events, like lemonade and jazz on the porch of Hemingway's house.
Ernest and his second wife, Pauline Pfeiffer, spent a great deal of time at her family home in Piggott, Arkansas. It's quite a different vibe than what Hemingway experienced as an expat in Paris, but he was able to produce some great work in Arkansas. He wrote parts of "A Farewell to Arms" and some short stories in a barn-turned-studio on the property, which has been renovated to look like it did when Hemingway visited during the 1930s.
Then, of course, there's Key West, Hemingway's notorious haunt. You can still visit his former house there, where he lived from 1931-1939-- make sure to pet one of the many six-toed cats that live on the property. Also, Hemingway frequented Captain Tony's Saloon (along with Shel Silverstein, Jimmy Buffet, Truman Capote and Tennessee Williams) and Sloppy Joe's Bar. Key West also puts on an incredible birthday bash for the author: it lasts from July 15 through July 20 and involves a re-enactment of the running of the bulls and an Ernest Hemingway lookalike contest.
Hemingway also spent a great deal of time in Cuba, and while it may not be easy for Americans to visit, there are plenty of Papa Hemingway landmarks to see if you can swing it. His enormous Cuban estate, Finca la Vigia, has been left untouched. You can peer in the windows and see his typewriter and half-full bottles of booze. His usual watering holes in Havana included La Bodeguita del Medio and La Floridita. Hemingway's usual stool at La Floridita has been roped off, and every day they place a daiquiri, his favorite, by a statue of him near the bar.
In 1959, Hemingway bought a home in Ketchum, Idaho, where he famously committed suicide in 1961. The home is still standing and is owned by the Nature Conservancy, but it remains closed to the public per Hemingway's fourth wife, Mary, as stipulated when she donated it upon her death in the 80s. You can, however, visit suite 206 in the nearby Sun Valley Resort-- that's the room where he wrote most of "For Whom the Bell Tolls." You can rent it out for yourself; it comes with a bust of Hemingway and a typewriter, in case you're inspired to pen something great. Also, you can pay tribute to the author at Hemingway's memorial and grave in the Ketchum Cemetery.