Cedar Key is a city located on Way Key, the largest of a group of islands that make up the Cedar Keys. The historical town off the western coast of Florida in the Gulf of Mexico now serves mainly as a tourist destination due to its charming, old-fashioned feel. The nearest big city is Gainesville, about 50 miles away.
Cedar Key is the perfect place to relax and enjoy the slower pace of life. The main island activities are fishing, kayaking, and bird watching. Walks in the Lower Suwanee National Wildlife Refuge and Cedar Keys National Wildlife Refuge are a perfect time to spot some of the beautiful birds that frequent the island. Those who’d like to spend some time indoors can visit the Cedar Key Historical Society Museum and the Cedar Key Museum State Park to learn about the history of the island. There are also two festivals a year: The Cedar Key Fine Arts Festival in April and the Annual Cedar Key Seafood Festival in mid-October. Tourists flock to the island at this time and it is much more packed than usual.
If you’re looking to add a little bit more excitement and a lot more people to your vacation, take the 2.5-hour drive to Orlando to visit Walt Disney World. Your kids will likely thank you. Or, drive over to the mainland for an added dose of nature at one of the many state and national parks located in Florida. Goethe State Forest, Rainbow Springs State Park, and Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park are all between one and two hours away. Alternatively, if you’d like to stay a bit closer to Cedar Key, there are a few places you can reach by boat. You can paddle over to Atsena Otie Key in a kayak or canoe — or alternatively take a boat service — and explore this island with many walking paths. Pack a lunch and make a day trip of it — if you’re lucky you might even see some dolphins up close.
One charming part of Cedar Key’s houses are the waterfront houses that reside on stilts, with the water gently lapping up to them. Even those houses next to or a little farther from the water are beautiful, however, with plenty of rentals, most located on the southeast end of the island. This area, between 1st Street and 7th Street, is also the downtown area with the most shops and restaurants and a good place to be.
Though Cedar Key is an island, it’s connected by road to the mainland, making it easy to go to and from. If you are flying in, the town has its own airport, the George T. Lewis Airport. Public transportation isn’t really necessary as the island is just over two square miles, but those who don’t want to walk or drive everywhere can bring or rent bikes and or a golf cart to ride around town.
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