Top Things to Do in Levy County for Foodies
One thing to know before you visit Levy County, FL: You better be hungry, because it doesn’t get much better than the food here. In Levy County, it’s all about fresh, local seafood, laidback eateries, and fun events that celebrate the local and cuisine. Locals love their steamed clams, charming restaurants and authentic old Florida dishes—and you will, too. Here are the top things to do in Levy County for foodies.
1. Sit down and enjoy a meal at one of Levy County’s top restaurants.
Levy County is home to a variety of restaurants, but most certainly feature seafood above everything else. That most certainly includes the restaurant at the Island Hotel. Built in 1859, the historic, two-story hotel has a wrap-around balcony on its upper deck, resembling something you might see in the heart of the French Quarter in New Orleans. Located in Cedar Key, the restaurant has a menu featuring French-meets-old-Florida flavors. Seafood soup, crab imperial and Cedar Key oysters (seasonal) are popular options, as are Low Country grits topped with shrimp and bacon gravy. After dinner, you can relax in the garden or at the Neptune Bar.
Steamers Clam Bar and Grill, also in Cedar Key, is the place to order buckets full of freshly harvested clams and oysters prepared in a multitude of ways (think garlic parmesan, fried or spicy diablo). If oysters aren’t your thing, the snow crab dinner and crab cakes are excellent options, too. For dinner, request a table on the outdoor waterfront deck to see one of Cedar Key’s famous sunsets while you dine.
In Chiefland, a great spot to put on a foodie tour of Levy County is The Gathering Table. Here, there’s a hot buffet always available at lunchtime, where authentic Southern picks like fried chicken, mac n’ cheese, green beans and mashed potatoes stay warm under heating lamps. During dinner time, diners are given a menu to order specialty dishes like buffalo shrimp, country fried steak, burgers and a seafood platter. Save room for dessert; you’ll want to try out pie or peach cobbler to end the night.
Some of the other top restaurants in the area include 83 West Restaurant, Away From the World Café, and Black Dog Bar and Tables in Cedar Key as well as Sully’s Steak House and Bar-B-Q Bill’s in Chiefland. Finally, Ivy House Restaurant in Williston is also worth a stop. Find more about these restaurants here.
2. Dine and shop at a popular Levy County stop.
In the town of Fanning Springs lies a bustling local eatery that doubles as a souvenir shop. 19/98 Grill and Country Store is a fun place to spend an afternoon. The restaurant walls are plastered with John Wayne memorabilia including framed photographs and a life-sized cardboard cut out of the late actor. Menu items include Reuben sandwiches, burgers, salads and catfish baskets. The restaurant’s sign would be hard to miss—it’s being held up by a vintage Chevy truck. After your meal, spend some time at the country store for a souvenir or two, including possibly a gorgeous homemade birdhouse.
3. Plan your trip to coincide with fun food festival.
Levy County hosts a variety of food events each year, celebrating everything from seafood to peanuts. Celebrate your love of seafood with hundreds of other foodies at the Cedar Key Seafood Festival that takes place every October. Clams are the highlight of the event since clams are harvested straight from its local waters and shipped all over the world. During the festival, foodies can browse through vendors whipping up their own seafood dishes like homemade clam chowder, fried oysters and smoked mullet dip. Artisan tents also feature Floridian souvenirs like lobster holiday ornaments and jewelry boxes made from local cedar trees.
Every November, Yankeetown comes alive with the two-day Yankeetown Seafood Festival,
celebrating nothing but the area’s love of seafood. During the event, dozens of artists and local food vendors turn out and offer their best goods and recipes. The festival sets up along Riverside Drive under towering trees—feeling very Old Florida.
Speaking of Old Florida, the Old Florida Celebration of the Arts is one of Levy County’s most popular annual events that features the works of hundreds of talented artists from across the nation. During the annual April event, a juried art show awards prizes of a total of close to $20,000. But it’s not just about the arts; it’s also about the food. Local restaurants including Cedar Key Pizza, Big Deck Raw Bar and Robinson Seafood set up and sell a small sampling of dishes from their menus, and the Cedar Key Aquaculture Association’s clam farmers are the main food suppliers for the popular annual event.
Finally, real food aficionados won’t want to miss the one-of-a-kind Peanut Festival that takes place every October in Williston, celebrating the local peanut industry. This is a fun, family-friendly event with rides, arts and craft vendors, and live music, but the real stars of the show are the peanuts. Take your palate on a journey and taste a wide range of peanut recipes including deep fried peanut butter sandwiches, boiled peanuts and peanut brittle. Stick around to watch the live crowning of the Little Peanut King, Queen and Baby Peanut.
4. Spend the day at a winery.
Since 1985, Dakotah Winery in Chiefland been producing innovative wine varieties in the merlot, cabernet sauvignon, white and rosé families. Wine tastings are complimentary here, and you can try wines in the tasting room or sample them on the outdoor deck. Visitors often notice images of Wood Ducks on wine bottles. That’s because the winery doubles as a bird sanctuary for many winged creatures.