Cedar Key, Florida is not your normal clear water, sandy beach, family vacation destination that you typically think of when you think about the Florida Gulf of Mexico coastline or the Florida Keys.
As I finished writing this blog post, I realized it was just way too long and the information was getting lost, so I decided to share our Cedar Key experience with you in two blog posts. Today, I want to share with you a little about the island, where to eat and where to stay. Next week, I will share about the attractions, what to do, where to go and a little more detail about why Cedar Key is the perfect destination for nature lovers!
My husband and I love to travel. We not only vacation every summer in French River, Ontario, but we actually took a road trip last summer from Ohio to California. On our road trip, we took a more Northern route and drove through Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Colorado, Utah and Nevada on our way to California. Then we drove through Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Tennesee and Kentucky on our way back home. We’ve even taken road trips to Las Vegas, Phoenix, Georgia, Missouri, Florida, Tennessee, New York and Michigan. Then there’s my most favorite Spring Break destination ever in Puerto Morelos, Mexico.
But, those are stories for another day….
My husband and I recently vacationed in Cedar Key as we wanted some place quaint, with a nice fishing pier, fresh seafood, and not your normal Spring break destination. Plus, a dash of Florida sunshine, of course!
So, I did what I normally do and I searched on Google for “quaint florida town with fishing pier” and Cedar Key appeared in several of the search results. We knew we wanted to visit the Gulf of Mexico side of Florida and we knew we didn’t want to visit party destinations.
We simply wanted a quiet get away, near the water, with a pool and close to maybe a pier or dock. Cedar Key met all those requirements and more. Of course, we didn’t know what to really expect until we had actually stayed there and became a little familiar with the area.
Cedar Key suffered significant damage on September 2, 2016 from Hurricane Hermine. It wasn’t real apparent to us until we drove down Dock Street. But, there was still evidence of Hurricane Hermine when we visited in March 2017. The picture above was taken shortly after the hurricane.
We actually stayed at the Beach Front Motel, which sits right on the corner of 1st Street in Cedar Key. The brick wall in front of the motel was destroyed in the hurricane and the entire first floor was flooded. (See those two windows on the far end on the left of the top floor? That was our room!)
Once we learned about the hurricane, the damage around the town became more evident. There also seemed to be a large amount of homes and property for sale in Cedar Key. So, if you’re looking for a quiet get-away, maybe Cedar Key, Florida is for you? Plus, the prices seemed really reasonable for a waterfront location!
I realize our experience may not have been typical as we weren’t there over the weekend or summer, but rather during spring break and during the week. I can’t tell you what it’s like there during the weekend or during the summer months. But, the nature and characteristics of the area are the same, regardless of the time of year.
Cedar Key Restaurants
There are a lot of restaurants in Cedar Key. Our favorites were
- Steamers Clam Bar & Grill – I had a spinach salad that was so fresh and delicious and the clam bisque was superb! Steamers is located right on Dock Street and, of course, offers a great view overlooking the water.
- Tony’s Seafood Restaurant – We ordered the “platter for two”, which included, grilled shrimp, fried shrimp, clams, fried oysters and fish. We also had a bowl of their champion clam chowder. We loved everything! And the platter was a great way to sample a variety of fresh seafood. My favorite? The shrimp! Fresh Gulf shrimp was just amazing!
We also heard great things about the following restaurants from some of the locals:
- Big Deck Raw Bar – Located on Dock Street just across from Steamers Clam Bar & Grill
- Holey Moley – A donut shop that’s located on 2nd Street and just a few blocks from Dock Street (everything’s just a few blocks from Dock Street)
- Annie’s Cafe – Located on D Street, on the left, just before you get to the bridge as you’re traveling North and away from Cedar Key.
- Kona Joe’s Island Cafe – Located on D Street, on the right, just before you get to the bridge as you’re traveling North and away from Cedar Key.
There are quite a few other restaurants in Cedar Key, but these are the places we either ate at ourselves or came highly recommended from some of the locals we spoke to. You can read my review of the restaurants, as well as read other reviews on TripAdvisor.
Cedar Key Hotels
We knew very little about Cedar Key before visiting here over Spring break. We literally drove into town at dusk, drove around trying to identify some hotels and made a few phone calls. Probably not the best way to ensure you’re able to book a hotel in a tourist area, but the timing was perfect for us.
We stayed at Beach Front Motel, but I was fortunate enough to also take a peak at a room at Dockside Hotel. I really enjoyed my room at Beach Front Motel. We were upstairs and right at the corner, so we had views from the south and west. Our room also contained a coffee maker, microwave, min-refrigerator, table with 2 chairs, TV, dresser and small balcony. We had a great view from our room, which also overlooked the pool.
I have to tell you, the pool is not heated. The promotional information says the pool is solar heated, which is a little misleading. The water temperature could not have been more than 68-70 degrees (I’m being generous) during our stay. Waaay too cold to be enjoyable. I’m sure the summer sun heats the pool up nicely, but for Spring break, it was really too cold to enjoy. There are no other amenities besides an ice machine at the hotel. They don’t provide daily cleaning or towel service and there is no one on premises after business hours. Pretty much, the room was clean and we had a nice view.
Cedar Key is for Nature Lovers
If you’re into boating, fishing, star-gazing, kayaking, canoeing, bike riding, hiking, nature or birding, Cedar Key is for you! By boat you can visit and explore the Cedar Keys National Wildlife Refuge, 13 uninhabited islands. The Lower Suwannee National Wildlife Refuge is beautiful, natural and untouched by man. There are no shopping malls, no movie theaters, and no WalMart, although there is a grocery store and a convenient store.
Cedar Key is a destination for those who love and enjoy nature. Relax, explore, bring your canvas and paint brushes, bring your camera, bring your binoculars, bring a good book and bring your pet as Cedar Key is a very pet friendly community.
Have you been to Cedar Key? If so, I’d love to hear and I’m sure my readers would love to hear any advice/recommendations you have about the area. If you have questions, please let me know and I’ll try to answer them as best I can – or at least point you to where you can get the answer to your question, hopefully!
Til next time…