Welcome to Cedar Key

With beautiful beaches, fantastic fishing opportunities and plenty of lush natural reserves, Cedar Key is a relaxing and old-fashioned vacation spot that lets you get back to basics. With the Gulf of Mexico lapping all around them, Cedar Key’s houses and stores ooze Old Florida charm, as do the cheerful locals who are lucky enough to call this tiny enclave, just an hour’s drive southwest of Gainesville, their home.

History

Cedar Key Historical Society Museum

If you want to learn more about this characterful fishing village then you should head to Lutterloh Building, which dates back to the late 19th century, where you’ll find an extensive collection of photographs, artefacts and documents that tell the story of the history of Cedar Key.  

Cedar Key Museum State Park

This fascinating museum gives visitors an insight into the past lives of Cedar Key as a railroad and steamboat terminal, a salt-making town, a natural fibre centre and perhaps most surprisingly of all, a pencil case manufacturing centre.

Shell Mound Archaeological Site

This wildlife reserve contains an astonishing shell mountain that has been built up over a 1,000 year period. The huge mound was made between 1,800 and 400 years ago by native people who discarded the shells of the oysters and clams they ate. There’s also a hiking trail that provides excellent views of this fascinating sight.

Seahorse Key Lighthouse

Seahorse Key lighthouse, the largest of all the lighthouses in the island chain, was built by George Meade in 1854 and cost $12,000 to complete. George Meade went on to become a general in the Civil War when the lighthouse was darkened and its lens and fuel supply were removed. During the Civil War, the island was protected by a small group of Confederate soldiers who were later captured by Union troops. Once the War came to an end, the lighthouse was returned to full service, with its fourth-order Fresnel lens once again shining 15 miles out to sea.

BEACHES, SURFING, PARKS & RIVER CRUISES

Cedar Key City Marina

The quiet island of Cedar Key, named Florida’s Rural Community of the Year 2009, comes to life each day as local fishermen head out to hunt the backwaters for trout and red fish and set off in search of grouper waters.   Many workers also travel to the nearby clam leases where farmers produce many of the country’s farm-raised clams.

As well as a vibrant fishing community, there are also all kinds other attractions, with a bustling downtown area and a historic district that bristles with culture. While there are no high-rise hotels or fast food chains, there are lots of quality rental homes, motels, condos and independent restaurants. There are also plenty of boat slips and dry docking opportunities or an airstrip if you prefer to travel by plane.  

ECOTOURISM, WILDLIFE & THE GREAT OUTDOORS

Waccasassa Bay Preserve State Park

Cedar Key boasts an incredibly rich array of wildlife and outdoor attractions. Waccasassa Bay, which can only be reached by boat, is a 32,000-acre preserve that borders Florida’s Gulf Coast between Yankeetown and Cedar Key. The vast majority of the preserve is made up of salt marsh that’s surrounded by beautifully wooded islands and is favoured by anglers because it boasts both saltwater and freshwater fishing. It is also home to endangered and threatened species such as bald eagles, black bears, American alligators and West Indian manatees. The preserve can be explored on foot or by canoe.

Cedar Key Scrub State Reserve

This succession of swamps, pinewood and hardwood forests and scrub land is the perfect place for hikers and off-road cycling enthusiasts to experience the diversity of Florida’s natural habitats. The miles of hiking trails that meander through the park and shallow waters for kayaking and canoeing make this an excellent spot to enjoy a range of outdoor activities.   

sport

Kayak Cedar Keys

No visit to Cedar Keys is complete without donning the waterproofs, climbing into the kayak and exploring the area’s many native water trails. The imaginatively named Kayak Tom has an incredible level of knowledge about the local waterways and will be happy to share that with you. Along with the obligatory safety instructions, Tom will also share valuable information about the local birdlife while tailoring his advice depending on the flora and fauna each visitor wants to see.  

As one of Florida’s last unoccupied coastlines and home to the largest aquatic preserve on the western shores, this is one kayaking opportunity you cannot miss. With permanent residents such as eagles, ospreys and dolphins, and thousands of migrating birds travelling to the area every year, you never know what you might see.  

Dining

A few of the Cedar Key’s best eateries include:

Annie’s Café

Blue Desert Cafe

Island Pizzeria

Kona Joe’s Island Cafe

The Island Room at Cedar Cove

Tony’s Seafood

Hotels

Plantation Inn at Crystal River Hotel

This beautiful hotel, set on a 232-acre eco-friendly resort, might be more than 50 years old but it certainly wears it well. With spacious and comfortable suites and guest rooms with all the modern amenities, you will have everything you need to enjoy your stay. There are also garden and water view rooms so you can take in the stunning surroundings and a full-service spa for a little rest and relaxation after a long day.

The onsite activities range from fishing, golfing and boating, but surrounded by the natural springs of Kings Bay and home to one of the largest aquifers in the state, it really is the natural attractions that make this such a fantastic place to stay.  

Pirates Cove Bayside Cottages

If you prefer the privacy of your very own cottage then the six newly refurbished Pirates Cove Bayside Cottages, with queen sized beds, might be more your thing. Here you can enjoy beautiful sunrises on the bayou and sunsets across the Gulf while fishing from the deck, relaxing under the trees or enjoying this world-class bird watching spot.  

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