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Cedar Key: A “Key” Boating Destination for Birdwatchers and Seafood Lovers

cedar key honeymoon cottage

Cedar Key’s famous “Honeymoon Cottage”

Cedar Key feels like a forgotten little island where residents and visitors can disappear and enjoy the wildlife, stunning scenery and delicious food. This is “pre-Disney” Florida with no strip malls or stop lights. It’s just a quaint little fishing village where it’s OK to take life slow. So, put down your iPhone, stop updating your Facebook status and allow yourself to enjoy some of Cedar Key’s pleasures. The fresh seafood and unlimited fishing and boating adventures are awaiting!

Cedar Key is literally an “end of the road” destination. When driving there, you’ll feel like you’re driving off into the Gulf of Mexico…and you actually are. Cedar Key is west of Gainesville and three miles off the coast. So when you finally reach the end of Route 24, you’ve found “Old Florida.”

If you’re looking for a close-to-home weekend away, Cedar Key is the perfect destination…even more perfect if you want to bring your boat along. It’s only about a three-hour drive from the Sarasota area and there are plenty of waterfront house rentals with docks that offer nightly rentals (not just weekly). So, it’s quick and doable to pop up there for a few days just to take a break from the daily grind.

There are so many things to do here; life is slow here but you won’t be bored. It’s time to get outside and enjoy the birding and fishing. Cedar Key is one of the oldest wildlife refuges in the U.S. You can boat out to the refuge and be amazed by the amount and variety of birds you will see. White pelicans, egrets, night herons, ospreys and eagles–the list goes on and on. It’s truly a birding paradise.

There are so many boating options–whether you’re looking to go fishing, snorkeling or even just sunset cruising, this is a great spot for boating and kayaking. It’s a popular boating destination in the summer for scalloping and in October for redfish fishing. There are many oyster beds, so make sure to watch the tides and have an updated chart.

Another thing that Cedar Key is famous for is the amount of quality restaurants they have that offer delectable coastal specialties like Cedar Key clams, mussels, soft-shell crab and smoked mullet dip. One of our favorite spots is a tiny, funky restaurant called Blue Desert Café. It’s got a variety of food types ranging from Southwestern, Cajun and Italian. If you’re in the mood for a seafood burrito, Cajun clams or a pizza, the chef and owner has created something to suit everyone. Everything is made in-house and from scratch, so don’t expect to be in rush. But what’s to hurry about? Grab a glass (or bottle) of wine, relax and enjoy letting time stand still in this piece of Florida perfection.

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About the author: You can take the girl out of Florida, but you can’t take Florida out of the girl. I grew up in Bradenton and moved to NYC when I got an internship at the David Letterman show (don’t worry, I wasn’t one of the interns who had an affair with the boss!) I eventually scored a job at CosmoGIRL magazine and then at MTV. But no matter how cool the job was, I hated dressing in layers, sweaters make me look bulky and I missed wearing flip-flops every day. I also missed my family. So, after 9 years of drinking waaay too many Cosmos and eating waaay too many BBQ nachos at Virgil’s in Times Square, I moved back to the sunshine state. My life is now ruled by my two-year-old daughter, Olive. She loves going to the beach and playing in the sand. Just like Mommy.

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