Top Things to Do on a Weekend Getaway in Levy County
Long overdue for a romantic weekend getaway? You might have your usual, favorite destinations, but this year, plan a different kind of weekend away. Come to Levy County, Florida, which is home to free-roaming manatees, untouched wilderness, historic bed and breakfast inns, and local restaurants serving delicious seafood. One of the only few places where couples can get a taste of authentic “Old Florida,” Levy County reminds you of a time and place travelers are desperate to find—a place where you can really get away. Here are some of the top things to do on a weekend retreat to Levy County on Florida’s nature coast.
Where to Stay: The Cedar Key Bed and Breakfast Inn is one of the most iconic places to stay in Levy County. The house, built in the 1880s, has a gingerbread-style exterior painted robin’s egg blue and pink, surrounded by 400-year-old oak trees. Every room in the house has its own theme and individual charm, but everyone gets the benefits of complimentary breakfast and access to a bottomless cookie jar and pretzels.
More: Check out our guide to five of the most romantic places to stay in Levy County in Cedar Key and beyond.
How to Get Around: Because of Cedar Key’s small size (about 1 square mile of land and a population that stays close to 700 people), a car is totally unnecessary. Explore the island by foot, or head over to Cedar Key Adventures to rent bikes, water bikes, golf carts and beach cruisers. Cedar Key and the larger Levy County has various scenic bike trails that bring you to parks and beaches, making it easy to get up close and personal with nature during your ride.
What to Do: You can find lots of things to do in Cedar Key, not the least of which is see the gorgeous sunsets that fall over the Gulf from the small island. But another way to see the sunset is on cruise with Tidewater Tours. Tidewater offers routes during the day, but the sunset tour is a sweet thing to do in the evening. Daytime tours have three main routes—the Island Tour, the Suwannee River Tour and the Coastal Marsh Tour—lasting anywhere from 1.5 to 3 hours taking you to the Lower Suwannee National Wildlife Refuge and around Cedar Key, where you’ll learn about tidal marsh eco-system, native and migratory birds, marine life and more with a narrated guide.
Voyles Guide also helps you get out on the water for scalloping, fishing or sightseeing. If you want to go fishing, experienced can help guide you to the best spots for tarpon, cobia, amberjack, grouper and more on half-day or full-day tours.
Another one-of-a-kind thing to do in Levy County is Scale Key Clams & The Original Cedar Key Clam Tour. Visit a local clam farm and go on an aquaculture tour to learn how clams are harvested. You’ll learn how to identify a healthy clam and pick the best ones—just like the local experts do. Watch the video below to see what the tour is like.
Finally, the sky’s the limit when you visit Island Air Tours. Take a romantic, small plane ride over the islands to get a bird’s-eye view. Rides usually last around 20 minutes and passengers get to see the small islands of the Cedar Keys, including Cedar Key National Wildlife Refuge islands—unspoiled and naturally beautiful. The tour is only available on weekends (weather permitting) from noon to 4 p.m., and no reservations are required.
Where to Eat: While you can stay overnight Island Hotel & Restaurant (circa 1859 10-inch wall Tabby construction), it’s the food you absolutely cannot miss. It’s one of Levy County’s most popular local eateries, and it’s the perfect place for a date night. Dishes on the menu consist of delicacies like Cedar Key oysters, fish piccata and crab imperial (all are freshly caught from local waters). After dinner, stay for a nightcap at the hotel’s small Neptune Lounge & Bar, which has a mural of Cedar Key and King Neptune painted on the wall behind the bar. Here, you can really unplug and talk with your date—it’s the only bar in Levy County without a TV to distract you.
And if you want to grab something sweet while you’re in Cedar Key, visit Dilly Dally Gally, a gift store that sells a large selection of chocolate and roasted nuts. It also has plenty of hard-to-find goods including art pieces, candles, beach wear, shirts, wind chimes, locally made lotions and more.
More: Check out our comprehensive visitor’s guide to Cedar Key with even more ideas on where to stay, top places to eat and some of the best things to do in town.
What to Do: Less than an hour from Cedar Key is Williston, an inland sanctuary for nature lovers. If you go, you have to visit Cedar Lakes Woods and Gardens, a quiet botanical garden where you can view plants and wildlife including owls, songbirds, turtles, butterflies, swans and other local animals. This garden is a romantic place to travel through well-planned landscapes with waterfalls, rock gardens and gorgeous flower arrangements.
Where to Eat: Whether you’re craving freshly caught seafood or a light sandwich, put The Ivy House Restaurant in Williston on your short list. Menu items include southern fried shrimp, a gourmet turkey croissant, filet mignon and pan fried cod, as well as homemade southern pies. The Ivy House Restaurant has two locations, one in Williston and one in Ocala, and Ocala Magazine recently gave the restaurant three separate honors on the 2016 Best of the Best awards: best place to get lunch, best in customer services, and best sweet tea, all of which you’ll find at both locations.
Where to Drink: One of the best things to do in all of Levy County is wine tasting at Dakotah Winery in Chiefland. Dakotah’s main vineyard features 20 acres of stunning vineyards lined with Muscadine grapes of Carlos (white) and Roble (red) varieties. Visit the winery’s tasting room to try any of the winery’s nine wines, almost all of which feature the muscadine grape but one that is made from blueberries—creating a sweet dessert wine. The winery’s large outdoor patio behind the tasting room overlooks a Koi pond that a population of wood ducks calls home. It’s the perfect spot to get away to sample and purchase Levy County’s homemade wine varieties.
More: Visiting Dakotah Winery is one of the best things to do anytime of year, but it’s certainly a great thing to do during the spring. Check out our list of the best things to do in Levy County in the spring.
What to Do: Elsewhere in Chiefland, the best things to do are spend some time outdoors. Manatee Springs State Park is a worthwhile destination to visit year-round, but during colder seasons, many West Indian manatees will congregate in the warmer waters of the spring to stay warm, making it a must-visit destination to see the gentle giants in their natural habitat. The waters are crystal clear, so it’s easy to see the manatees from the park’s various decks. You also can explore miles of long hiking trails by bike or foot, and adventurous couples can camp overnight at more than 80 campsites. Rent a kayak or canoe from the concession stand by the waterfront and explore the famous Suwannee River.
Finally, Fanning Springs State Park might be the most perfect place in all of Levy County to get away. The park has five full-service cabins to rent. They are located on the Suwannee River Wilderness Trail, which means you have quick access to the river for as well as nearby hiking trails and crystal clear waters of Fanning Spring. Primitive camping is available to those arriving by canoe or kayak. Like Manatee Springs, the park has its own amenities of hiking trails, fishing docks and scuba diving spots.
Few locations can compete with Levy County, Florida, when you’re looking for a true place to get away and spend some one-on-one time with someone. Check out all the other things to do in Levy County, and start planning a getaway to Levy County today.