Cedar Key, Florida: Where to Stay, What to Do, Where to Eat
With a population of just over 700 people, Cedar Key is a small, laid-back utopia in Levy County that gives you a glimpse of traditional “Old Florida.” Much of Cedar Key’s wilderness remains untouched, the quaint 200 year-old town remains focused on being a fishing and clamming coastal community that hosts gorgeous sunsets. So get ready to discover the “real” Florida. Here is your guide to where to stay, what to do and where to eat in Cedar Key, Florida.
Where to Stay
When staying in Cedar Key, look for accommodations that reflect the true authentic style of Old Florida, like Island Hotel Bed & Breakfast. Built in 1859 and currently listed in the National Register of Historic Places, this historic tabby constructed inn is recognized by its upper balcony lined with white rocking chairs. A true romantic getaway, guests will enjoy the historic setting, lounging on the patio or in the courtyard filled with tropical plants. Reserve in advance, for only 10 rooms are available. The inn has its own restaurant (where free breakfast is served to guests) and be sure to relax in the informal and cozy Neptune Lounge and Bar.
Bringing Fido along? Cedar Key Bed and Breakfast, with its teal and peach exterior, is a pet-friendly inn known for its historic old Florida style architecture, furnishings and upscale English atmosphere. With a bottomless homemade cookie jar and complimentary bikes guests will have a tranquil spot to kick back and relax.
Visitors bringing along their furry companions can also stay in the Faraway Inn, another pet-friendly place. The inn’s convenient location is only a five-minute walk to restaurants, shops, and Victorian and Cracker houses. Guests staying at the Faraway Inn can rent golf carts to get around town, as well as a kayak or canoe to explore the nearby water. If spending the night in your own stand-alone cottage on the waterfront sounds appealing, Mermaid’s Landing Cottages is for you. Over nine cracker houses built from the 1940s and 1950s with modern updates are available for rent.
What to Do
Cedar Key has a string of one-of-a-kind activities and places to visit. If you love nature, Tide Water Tours offers one of the best ways to explore the surrounding habits and wildlife. They offer several different tours including an Island Tour that takes you to the outer islands of the Cedar Keys National Wildlife Refuge. Visitors will enjoy a bit of Cedar Key history, learn about the rich and diverse ecosystem and get a chance glimpse of various native species including manatees, spotted eagle rays, dolphins, sea turtles and more. This 1/1/2-2-hour tour changes with the season and weather conditions.
Get your nature kick at Cedar Key Scrub State Preserve, a 3,000-acre paradise with 12 miles of hiking trails to explore. The preserve is among the most popular places to go wildlife and bird viewing, and is home to the largely protected Scrub Jay. Guests can rent canoes and kayaks in the city and paddle along the salt marshes and towering oak trees and palmettos. Another great way to get close to nature is Cedar Key Museum State Park’s nature walking trail where you can admire wildlife and the unspoiled Floridian wilderness. But don't go without visiting the museum at the park, a house previously owned by Saint Clair Whitman. Built in the 1880s, the museum houses tons of Whitman’s interesting collectibles, like original kitchenettes, vintage photographs and seashells. While there, see the diorama reflecting the true lifestyle and heritage of Cedar Key.
Or stay in town and head over to the Cedar Key Historical Museum to learn about the area’s history, back to the 1800s and prehistoric times, through artifacts and bones. The museum is located in the historic district, with a mixture of cracker buildings and Victorian architecture. Looking to purchase some art? Stop in local galleries like Island Arts, Island Trading Post and Dilly Dally Gallery.
Where to Eat
When it comes to eating in Cedar Key, the first thing that comes to mind is seafood. Steamer’s Clam Bar and Grill is a cozy spot that overlooks the ocean and serves guests fried shrimp, fish n’ chips, scallops, grilled fish and of course, oysters and clams fresh from the sea. An alternative oceanfront restaurant worth checking out is Big Deck Raw Bar, a hut-like restaurant with an outdoor patio facing the water. You and your group can dine on appetizing dishes like fried oyster po’ boys, clams, seafood quesadillas and more. The building, right on Dock Street, is easy to spot, recognized by its pink and purple exterior.
Looking for a place to eat breakfast? Consider Kona Joe’s Island Cafe, for homemade dishes with Floridian and southern touches. Among the breakfast items on the menu are shrimp and grits, blue crab quiche, omelettes and Belgian waffles. Guests have the option of sitting indoors and admiring the beachy interior, or outside on the large patio deck (recommended) enjoying the view of the water. The restaurant comes with its own dock for guests arriving by canoe or kayak. Away From the World Café is another breakfast place in Cedar Key, with more traditional items, like smoked salmon on a bagel, eggs Benedict, pancakes and French toast. While there, order their famous bloody mary’s or pineapple mimosas. The restaurant has its own large outdoor dining deck, right over the Gulf of Mexico, with a spectacular view of sunrise over the water.