Cedar Key is a lovely island city off Florida's Gulf of Mexico coast in Levy County, located within the Cedar Keys barrier island cluster, which are named for their former abundant populations of eastern red cedar trees. The island is recognized for its archaeological importance and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places as the Cedar Keys Historic and Archaeological District. The Cedar Key National Wildlife Refuge which protects important bird nesting habitats.
1.The Cedar Key Historical Society Museum
© The Cedar Key Historical Society Museum
The Cedar Key Historical Society Museum is Cedar Key's premiere cultural and historical museum, showcasing a wide variety of exhibits connected to the region's history from prehistory through the present day. The museum, which is located within the Cedar Keys Historic and Archaeological District, was originally the vision of local artist Polly Pillsbury, who worked with a group of citizen donors to found a museum to preserve the region's rich history and opened the museum to the public in 1979. Today, it spans two preserved historic buildings, including the 1871 Lutterloh Building, which is home to exhibits on the region's fossil findings, indigenous cultural artifacts, economic industries, and connections to famed naturalist John Muir. The adjacent Andrews House annex, a relocated building that was originally constructed on Atsena Otie Key, showcases exhibits on the region's railroading history, manufacturing, and medical and dental history.
609 2nd St, Cedar Key, FL 32625, Phone: 352-543-5549
2.Kayak Cedar Keys
© Kayak Cedar Keys
Kayak Cedar Keys is North Florida's largest full-service kayak livery, originally founded in 2004 by married duo Sherry and Tom Liebert. The company has been a key figure in transforming the Cedar Key region into one of the top paddling destinations along Florida's Gulf Coast. A fleet of Native Manta Ray fishing kayaks are available for rental or purchase for paddling excursions throughout the Nature Coast region, along with Malibu fishing and tandem kayaks. All rentals include paddling instruction, maps, and dry bags, with rental times beginning at three hours. Paddleboards are also available for rental, with launch times offered between the early morning and early afternoon hours. Visitors can explore the gorgeous barrier islands of the Cedar Keys National Wildlife Refuge, passing landmarks such as the historic Cedar Keys Light Station or viewing native wildlife such as endangered leatherback sea turtles.
6027 A St, Cedar Key, FL 32625, Phone: 352-543-9447
3.Cedar Key State Museum
Cedar Key State Museum is a popular Florida state park in Cedar Key, showcasing the preserved former home of regional resident Saint Clair Whitman. The house, which was constructed in the 1880s, was acquired by Whitman around 1920 and has been restored to its historic early-2oth century appearance and decor. Items displayed as museum exhibits within the home include collections of sea shells and artifacts from regional indigenous groups that were originally displayed by Whitman when he operated his home as a regional museum. Several dioramas within the home also depict life in the Cedar Key area throughout the years. Outside, a short nature trail offers opportunities to view native wildlife and vegetation, including native and migratory birds. A marker commemorates the site's 1867 visit by famed naturalist John Muir, explored as part of his walk from Kentucky to Florida.
12231 SW 166th Ct, Cedar Key, FL 32625, Phone: 352-543-5350
4.Cedar Keys National Wildlife Refuge
© Brian Lasenby/stock.adobe.com
Cedar Keys National Wildlife Refuge is a gorgeous 891-acre United States National Wildlife Refuge, located near the city of Cedar Key and accessible via State Road 24. The refuge, which was originally established in 1929 in response to overkilling of birds for fashion plumage, provides a safe refuge for populations of more than 20,000 native birds. 13 barrier islands are included in the refuge, which is also home to the 379-acre Cedar Keys Wilderness Area, originally established in 1972. Popular outdoor activities at the refuge include fishing, nature photography, and wildlife watching for native species ranging from manatees and dolphins to white pelicans and bald eagles. Paddling is popular in the waters surrounding the refuge's barrier islands, with many excursion companies offering guided paddling tours or self-guided map tour routes which may be explored with kayak rentals. Other attractions include the historic Cedar Keys Light Station, which is open to the public for guided tours several times a year.
16450 NW 31 Place, Chiefland, FL 32626, Phone: 352-493-0238
5.Lower Suwannee National Wildlife Refuge
© Anne Lindgren/stock.adobe.com
Lower Suwannee National Wildlife Refuge is a United States National Wildlife Refuge located within Levy and Dixie Counties near Cedar Key, approximately an hour south of the city of Gainesville. The 53,000-acre refuge, which was originally established in 1979, protects one of the United States' largest undeveloped river delta ecosystems, stretching for 20 miles along the Suwannee River estuary habitat and an additional 20 miles along the Gulf of Mexico coastline. A wide variety of native wildlife calls the refuge home, including manatees, deer, sturgeon, turkeys, and bald eagles. Popular recreational activities include fishing, paddling, hunting, nature photography, and wildlife watching, with several observation towers and boardwalks offered throughout the refuge for visitor use. Interpretive programming includes nature walks and a wildlife driving tour program.
16450 NW 31 Pl, Chiefland, FL 32626, Phone: 352-493-0238
6.The Cedar Key Railroad Trestle Nature Trail
The Cedar Key Railroad Trestle Nature Trail is a lovely 1,700-foot rail trail located on the barrier island that contains the city of Cedar Key, accessible via State Road 24. The trail follows the route of a former railroad line that connected Cedar Key to nearby Fernandia Beach, which operated between 1861 and 1932. Lush native vegetation surrounds the trail, which is populated by a variety of native migratory and shorebird species. At the end of the trail, a shallow bay is home to a number of preserved trestle posts which formerly held up a bridge carrying trains across the water to Cedar Key. Visitors should note that bicycles are not permitted on the path due to its sandy, uneven terrain.
Grove St, Cedar Key, FL 32625
7.Cedar Key Scrub State Reserve
Cedar Key Scrub State Reserve is a delightful 5,000-acre Florida state park located approximately six miles northeast of the city of Cedar Key along State Road 24. The park preserves 12 distinct natural habitat areas, including a rare Florida scrub habitat, which is home to species such as the Florida scrub jay, the Southern bald eagle, and the gopher tortoise. Two trailheads provide access to the reserve, accessible via State Road 24 and Levy County Road 347. More than 13 miles of multi-use trails are located within the reserve, accessible to hikers, cyclists, and horseback riders. Popular outdoor recreational activities include paddling, fishing, birding, geocaching, and wildlife watching, with day-use picnic areas and public restrooms offered at the SR24 trailhead.
FL-24, Cedar Key, FL 32625, Phone: 352-543-5567
8.Waccasassa Bay Preserve State Park
© Earl Robbins/stock.adobe.com
Waccasassa Bay Preserve State Park is one of Florida's most unique state parks, spanning more than 34,000 acres throughout the Cedar Key region. The preserve, which is only accessible via boat from Cedar Key and Yankeetown, spans more than 20 miles of shoreline tidal marsh habitats along Waccasassa Bay, serving as an important estuarine habitat for the endangered salt marsh vole, the West Indian manatee, and a wide variety of saltwater sporting fish species. Also preserved are some of the final remains of the Gulf Hammock, the largest hydric hammock in the state of Florida, which once spanned more than 100,000 acres. The park is a popular spot for saltwater and freshwater anglers with valid Florida fishing licenses. Other outdoor recreational opportunities include chances for boating, paddling, birding, and wildlife watching. A number of primitive campsites are available on a first come, first served basis.
8312 SW 125th Ave, Inglis, FL 34449, Phone: 352-543-5567
9.Voyles Guide Service
© Earl Robbins/stock.adobe.com
Voyles Guide Service has been awarded the TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence in 2016 and 2017 as one of Cedar Key's best coastal touring companies, helmed by United States Coast Guard Master Captain D. Voyles. The licensed touring company brings more than 20 years of touring experience to each visitor excursion, offering fishing, scalloping, and sightseeing excursions throughout the year, along with opportunities for backcountry airboating. Inshore fishing excursions offer opportunities to catch spotted sea trout, while barrier island excursions offer chances to fish for bull redfish. Other excursions focus on species such as cobia, monster sharks, and trophy tarpon. All fishing excursions provide fishing licenses, tackle, bait, and ice for all participants, though participants are welcome to bring their own rods and reels.
8070 A Street, Cedar Key, FL 32625, Phone: 352-339-2034
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10.Tony's Seafood Restaurant
© Tony's Seafood Restaurant
Tony's Seafood Restaurant is a popular seafood restaurant in the city of Cedar Key, originally opened to the public in June of 2005 by executive chef Eric Jungklaus. The restaurant is best known for its famed secret-recipe clam chowder, which was awarded the top prize at three Clam Chowder World Championships and has been acclaimed by a number of major publications, including Bon Appetit magazine. In addition to its famed chowder, which is available for sale online nationally, the restaurant also serves up delicious seafood entrees such as Cajun seafood platters, teriyaki shrimp skewers, crab cake sandwiches, and fried or steamed seafood dinner plates. Due to the restaurant's popularity, visitors are advised to dine between lunch and dinner hours to avoid long table waits.
597 2nd Street, Cedar Key, FL 32625, Phone: 352-543-0022
11.Steamers Clam Bar and Grill
© Steamers Clam Bar and Grill
Steamers Clam Bar and Grill is a delicious Dock Street restaurant in Cedar Key, serving up excellent fresh seafood dishes with a focus on locally-farmed clam and oyster entrees. Beautiful Gulf views are offered from the restaurant's dining room, which presents live music performances on weekend evenings. Excellent land and sea entrees are available at lunch and dinner, including fried oyster and scallop dinners, blue crab-stuffed portobellos, and surf and turf platters served up with Angus ribeye steak and shrimp. Fish, crab, and chicken sandwiches are available, along with a variety of delectable pasta dishes. Diners can also create their own seafood platters, choosing from options such as salmon, crab cakes, mahi mahi, scallops, or fried oysters. Delicious drink options include local beers on draft, house wines, and a selection of craft martinis and island cocktails.
420 Dock St, Cedar Key, FL 32625, Phone: 352-543-5142
12.The Island Hotel and Restaurant
© The Island Hotel and Restaurant
The Island Hotel and Restaurant is a unique and beautiful hotel in Cedar Key, originally established in 1946 by Bessie and Gibby Gibbs. Throughout the 20th century, the hotel became known regionally for is delicious seafood-focused restaurant, which still serves up locally-sourced high-quality seafood entrees today. 10 distinctly-decorated hotel rooms eschew modern amenities such as televisions and telephones in favor of rustic ambiance, with communal amenities such as rocking chairs and double porch swings available for use by all guests. All guests also receive full complimentary breakfasts each morning in room or on the hotel's screened-in porch. Other amenities include the Neptune Bar and Lounge, which is decorated in a nautical theme and serves up a wide selection of cocktails and spirits.
373 2nd Street, Cedar Key, FL 32625, Phone: 352-543-5111
12 Best Things to Do in Cedar Key, Florida
- The Cedar Key Historical Society Museum, Photo: The Cedar Key Historical Society Museum
- Kayak Cedar Keys, Photo: Kayak Cedar Keys
- Cedar Key State Museum, Photo: anwar/stock.adobe.com
- Cedar Keys National Wildlife Refuge, Photo: Brian Lasenby/stock.adobe.com
- Lower Suwannee National Wildlife Refuge, Photo: Anne Lindgren/stock.adobe.com
- The Cedar Key Railroad Trestle Nature Trail, Photo: khlongwangchao/stock.adobe.com
- Cedar Key Scrub State Reserve, Photo: neosiam/stock.adobe.com
- Waccasassa Bay Preserve State Park, Photo: Earl Robbins/stock.adobe.com
- Voyles Guide Service, Photo: Earl Robbins/stock.adobe.com
- Tony's Seafood Restaurant, Photo: Tony's Seafood Restaurant
- Steamers Clam Bar and Grill, Photo: Steamers Clam Bar and Grill
- The Island Hotel and Restaurant, Photo: The Island Hotel and Restaurant
- Cover Photo: Brian Lasenby/stock.adobe.com