Are you looking for a peaceful coastal getaway with plenty of activities and attractions to keep you busy? Then Cedar Key is the destination for you! Situated on the Gulf of Mexico, this charming town is a hidden gem with a rich history, delicious seafood, and plenty of opportunities for outdoor adventures.
In this travel blogging website article, we’ll highlight the top things to do in Cedar Key, from kayaking and boating to hiking and biking, exploring the town’s history, sampling its cuisine, and shopping for unique souvenirs. We’ll also provide an overview of Cedar Key’s accommodations and answer some frequently asked questions.
Whether you’re planning a family vacation, a weekend trip with friends, or a romantic getaway, Cedar Key has something for everyone. So, pack your bags and get ready to discover the best of this picturesque Florida town!
Experience the Charming Coastal Town of Cedar Key
Nestled on the Gulf of Mexico’s western coast, Cedar Key is a charming and historic town that’s perfect for visitors seeking a relaxed and authentic Florida experience. The town’s small size and unhurried pace allow visitors to experience a slice of old Florida that they’ll never forget.
Cedar Key is a fishing town, and its economy has long been driven by the bountiful seafood that can be found in the Gulf waters. The town’s waterfront is a hub of activity, with boats coming and going, and fishermen unloading their daily catch. Visitors who stroll along the waterfront are sure to catch a glimpse of pelicans, egrets, and other water birds.
Top Things to Do in Cedar Key
There’s no shortage of things to do in Cedar Key, and visitors are sure to find something that suits their interests. Some of the top activities and attractions include:
- Kayaking and boating: With its calm and shallow waters, Cedar Key is the perfect place for kayaking and boating. Visitors can rent kayaks or boats and explore the surrounding coastline at their leisure.
- Hiking and biking: The town is surrounded by nature preserves and wildlife refuges, making it an ideal destination for hiking and biking enthusiasts. Visitors can explore the area’s trails and observe native wildlife in their natural habitat.
- Visiting the Cedar Key Museum State Park: Cedar Key has a rich history as a fishing and shipping hub, and visitors can learn all about it at the Cedar Key Museum State Park. The museum features exhibits on the town’s past, as well as a restored 19th-century lighthouse.
- Eating fresh seafood: Cedar Key is known for its delicious seafood, and visitors won’t want to miss the chance to sample it. The town’s restaurants serve up everything from oysters to grouper, all freshly caught from the Gulf waters.
- Shopping for souvenirs: Cedar Key is home to a variety of unique shops and boutiques, where visitors can find everything from handmade jewelry to locally made art. And no trip to Cedar Key is complete without taking home a souvenir or two!
No matter how visitors choose to spend their time in Cedar Key, they’re sure to be charmed by the town’s laid-back vibe and friendly atmosphere.
Hit the Water: Kayaking and Boating in Cedar Key
Cedar Key’s location on the Gulf of Mexico makes it a prime spot for water-based activities. Kayaking and boating are two of the most popular ways to explore the area’s picturesque coastline.
Rentals are available from several local outfitters. Cedar Key Paddling offers single and tandem kayaks, as well as stand-up paddleboards. Kayak Cedar Keys has a variety of rentals, including sit-in and sit-on-top kayaks, canoes, and powerboats. Captain Doug’s Tidewater Tours offers guided kayak tours and boat tours of the surrounding waters.
|Atsena Otie Key
For those looking to explore on their own, Atsena Otie Key is a great place to start. The island is just a short paddle from Cedar Key and boasts hiking trails and a historic cemetery.
“Kayaking in Cedar Key is an unforgettable experience. The quiet serenity of the water and the stunning natural beauty of the coastline make it a must-do activity for any nature enthusiast.” – Jane, Travel Blogger
For those looking for a more challenging paddle, Cemetery Point and North Key offer longer routes with varying levels of difficulty. These routes offer stunning views of the surrounding landscape, including abundant birdlife and the chance to see dolphins and manatees.
Whether you’re a seasoned pro or a first-time paddler, kayaking and boating in Cedar Key are activities that should not be missed. With so many beautiful waterways to explore, it’s the perfect way to experience the natural beauty of this charming coastal town.
Explore the Great Outdoors: Hiking and Biking in Cedar Key
For those who love outdoor activities, Cedar Key offers plenty of opportunities to explore the beautiful surrounding area on foot or by bike. Whether you prefer leisurely strolls or challenging hikes, there is a trail to suit every level of fitness and experience.
Hiking in Cedar Key
One of the most popular trails is the Cedar Key Scrub State Reserve, which features more than five miles of hiking trails that wind through pine and scrub oak forests. The trails vary in difficulty, with some being easy while others are more challenging, featuring steep inclines. The reserve also offers opportunities to spot local wildlife, including gopher tortoises and bobcats. Don’t forget to pack plenty of water as the reserve can get quite hot.
Another popular hiking spot is the Lower Suwannee National Wildlife Refuge. This vast area features more than 53,000 acres of protected land, including salt marshes, upland forests, and tidal creeks. The refuge offers several hiking trails, including the Cedar Point Trail, which offers stunning views of the nearby islands and Gulf of Mexico. Hikers can also see a variety of wildlife here, including alligators, deer, and wading birds.
Biking in Cedar Key
If you prefer to bike, there are several options for exploring Cedar Key’s stunning coastline and surrounding areas. One popular route is the Nature Coast State Trail, a 32-mile paved trail that runs through small towns, pine forests, and wetlands. This trail is suitable for all levels of bikers and offers stunning vistas of the Gulf of Mexico.
Another popular biking route is the Chiefland Loop, a 30-mile route that starts and ends in Cedar Key. This scenic ride takes cyclists through picturesque small towns, along quiet rural roads, and through a variety of natural landscapes. Cyclists can take a break at one of the many picnic areas along the way and enjoy a picnic or swim in the nearby springs.
Whether hiking or biking, Cedar Key has plenty of opportunities to explore the great outdoors. Just be sure to bring plenty of water, sunscreen, and insect repellent and always be mindful of the local flora and fauna.
Discover the Rich History of Cedar Key
One of the most fascinating aspects of Cedar Key is its rich history. As a former fishing and shipping hub, the town has a unique story to tell, and there are many historical sites and attractions that offer a glimpse into its past.
One of the best places to start is the Cedar Key Museum State Park. The museum is housed in a restored railroad depot and features exhibits on the area’s history, including its Native American heritage, the arrival of Spanish explorers, and the development of the seafood industry. The museum also houses one of the largest collections of sea shells in the world.
Another must-visit attraction is the Island Hotel and Restaurant. Built in 1859, the hotel has been an important part of Cedar Key’s history for over a century. Many famous guests have stayed at the hotel over the years, including Teddy Roosevelt, who visited in 1905. Today, visitors can still stay in the hotel’s cozy rooms and enjoy delicious seafood dishes in the restaurant.
If you’re interested in learning more about the town’s fishing heritage, be sure to visit the Cedar Key Historical Society Museum. The museum features exhibits on the area’s commercial fishing industry, as well as displays on local art and culture.
Finally, take a stroll through the historic district to see some of Cedar Key’s oldest buildings. Many of these date back to the 19th century and have been beautifully restored. Don’t miss the chance to snap some photos of the picturesque streetscape.
Whether you’re a history buff or simply interested in learning more about Cedar Key, there are plenty of opportunities to delve into the town’s past. Take some time to explore these fascinating attractions and discover the stories that make Cedar Key such a special place.
Sample the Best of Cedar Key’s Cuisine
When it comes to food, Cedar Key is known for its incredibly fresh seafood. Visitors can expect to find a range of dishes that showcase the town’s local catch, including clams, oysters, and shrimp. Whether you’re looking for a fancy dinner or a casual snack, Cedar Key has plenty of options to satisfy your cravings.
Top Restaurants in Cedar Key
If you’re looking for a fine dining experience, Cedar Key has a few standout options. The Island Room at Cedar Cove is known for its creative dishes featuring local ingredients, and is a popular spot for special occasions. Another great choice is 83 West, which offers a menu of both seafood and non-seafood dishes in a cozy, romantic setting.
For a more casual meal, head to Tony’s Seafood Restaurant, which has been serving up fresh seafood since 1953. The restaurant is known for its clam chowder and fried shrimp, which are both must-try dishes. Another casual spot is Big Deck Raw Bar, which has outdoor seating overlooking the water and a menu of classic seafood favorites.
Signature Cedar Key Dishes
When in Cedar Key, be sure to try some of the town’s signature dishes. One must-try is clam chowder, which is made with locally harvested clams and is a staple on many restaurant menus. Another signature dish is fried clam strips, which are crispy and delicious when paired with a cold beer.
Seafood lovers won’t want to miss trying some of Cedar Key’s fresh oysters. These can be found at many of the town’s restaurants and raw bars, and are often served on the half shell with lemon and cocktail sauce. Another popular dish is blackened shrimp, which is typically served with rice and vegetables.
Take Home Cedar Key Souvenirs
If you’re looking to bring home a taste of Cedar Key, consider picking up some locally made goodies. The Island Hotel & Restaurant sells its signature clam chowder by the quart, which makes for a great gift or souvenir. Another option is Cedar Key Sea Salt, which is harvested from the waters surrounding the town and can be found at several shops in the area.
For something sweet, stop by Aunt B’s Old Fashioned Bakery, which offers a variety of treats made from scratch. Be sure to try the cinnamon rolls, which are a customer favorite. If you’re in need of a caffeine fix, head to the Island Joe’s Coffee and Gallery, which roasts its own beans and offers a variety of drinks as well as locally made art and gifts.
Shop for Unique Souvenirs in Cedar Key
While Cedar Key may be a small town, it is big on charm and local crafts. Visitors will find a variety of shops and boutiques selling unique souvenirs and gifts made by skilled artisans.
One of the most popular spots for shopping in Cedar Key is the Cedar Keyhole Artist Co-op. This artist-owned and -operated shop features the work of more than 30 local artists and craftspeople, exhibiting a range of handmade arts and crafts, including jewelry, paintings, pottery, and more. Visitors can find a truly one-of-a-kind souvenir here to take home.
Another must-visit shop for visitors is Old Florida Celebration of the Arts. This store showcases an incredible selection of vintage Florida artwork and memorabilia. It’s a great place to pick up an authentic piece of Florida history.
If you’re looking for a unique piece of jewelry or other handmade accessory, stop by Island Trading Post. This shop features handcrafted items made by local artists and artisans, including beaded jewelry, clothing, and accessories.
For those who prefer more practical souvenirs, Cedar Key Mercantile is a must-visit. This shop stocks a range of home decor items and accessories, including towels, candles, and even locally made honey and jam. These items make great gifts for friends and family back home.
Relax and Unwind in Cedar Key’s Quaint Accommodations
After a day filled with outdoor activities and exploration, visitors to Cedar Key will want to find a comfortable place to rest their heads. Luckily, the town offers a variety of unique and charming lodging options to suit any traveller’s preferences and budget.
|Inns and B&Bs
|For those seeking a truly quaint and personalized experience, Cedar Key’s inns and B&Bs are a great option. These small, locally owned properties offer comfortable rooms and often feature unique decor and amenities.
|Hotels and Motels
|If you’re looking for a more standard hotel experience, Cedar Key has several options available. These properties offer comfortable and modern rooms, often with waterfront views.
|For those looking for a home away from home during their stay in Cedar Key, vacation rentals are a great option. These properties offer more space and privacy, often with fully equipped kitchens and other amenities.
Top Accommodations in Cedar Key
Here are some of the top recommended accommodations in Cedar Key:
- Harbor Master Suites: Located right on the waterfront, Harbor Master Suites offers modern and spacious accommodations, many with private balconies overlooking the water.
- Cedar Key Bed & Breakfast: This cozy B&B features comfortable rooms, a welcoming atmosphere, and an excellent breakfast spread.
- Island Hotel: This historic hotel in the heart of Cedar Key is known for its charming decor and excellent on-site restaurant, which serves up fresh seafood dishes.
No matter which type of accommodation you choose, you’re sure to find yourself in a restful and relaxing environment during your stay in Cedar Key.
Frequently Asked Questions About Cedar Key
Are you planning a trip to Cedar Key? Here are some of the most frequently asked questions that visitors have about this charming coastal town.
How do I get to Cedar Key?
Cedar Key is located in northwestern Florida, about two and a half hours from Tampa and three hours from Orlando. The closest major airport is Gainesville Regional Airport, which is about an hour and a half away. From there, you can rent a car and drive to Cedar Key.
What’s the best time of year to visit Cedar Key?
Cedar Key is a great destination year-round, but the weather is most pleasant from October through April, when temperatures are cooler and there is less humidity. Keep in mind that hurricane season runs from June through November, so be sure to check the weather forecast before you go.
What are some of the top things to do in Cedar Key?
Cedar Key is known for its water-based activities, including kayaking, fishing, and boating. Visitors can also explore the charming downtown area, hike or bike the surrounding trails, and learn about the town’s history at the Cedar Key Museum State Park.
Where should I stay in Cedar Key?
Cedar Key has a variety of charming and unique accommodations, including historic inns, cozy cottages, and waterfront vacation rentals. Some of the top options include the Island Hotel and Restaurant, the Cedar Key Bed and Breakfast, and the Old Fenimore Mill Condos.
What are some of the best restaurants in Cedar Key?
Cedar Key is known for its seafood, and there are several great restaurants in town where you can sample it. Some of the top options include The Island Room, Steamers Clam Bar and Grill, and Tony’s Seafood Restaurant.
Can I bring my dog to Cedar Key?
Yes, many of Cedar Key’s accommodations are pet-friendly, and there are also several restaurants and outdoor areas where dogs are allowed. Just be sure to check with the individual business or park before you bring your dog.
We hope this FAQ helps you plan your trip to Cedar Key!