Things to do in Cedar Key, Florida! Includes tours, free attractions, Cedar Key restaurants, places to stay in Cedar Key, and even a map!
Cedar Key, Florida
If you want to experience a bit of Old Florida charm, we recommend you visit Cedar Key, Florida. Similar to Key West, it’s an island city with a laid back attitude. Once a popular port and important train terminal, the city is now known for it’s seafood and historic value. In fact, Cedar Key is on the National Register of Historic Places.
Where Is Cedar Key, FL
So where is Cedar Key? The city is in North Central Florida on the Gulf of Mexico. It’s literally at the end of Florida State Road 24, so driving there is pretty easy.
Directions To Cedar Key
Directions to Cedar Key will obviously vary depending on where you’re coming from, but they will all end with you on State Road 24. Below are drive times from other popular Florida destinations so you can get an idea of how long it will take you to drive to Cedar Key:
- Gainesville to Cedar Key – Approximately 1 hr 11 min (58.5 miles)
- Orlando to Cedar Key – Approximately 3 hr (135 miles)
- Crystal River to Cedar Key – Approximately 57 min (55.7 miles)
- Tallahassee to Cedar Key – Approximately 2 hr 35 min (147 miles)
- Tampa to Cedar Key – Approximately 2 hr 17 min (134 miles)
- Miami to Cedar Key – Approximately 5 hr 26 min (361 miles)
- Jacksonville to Cedar Key – Approximately 2 hr 25 min (130 miles)
Pro Tip: If you are driving to Cedar Key, make sure to have these Road Trip Essentials!
Closest Airport To Cedar Key, Florida
Although there is a Cedar Key airport, George T. Lewis Airport (KCDK), it does not have general commercial aircraft service. Therefore, if you’d like to fly into town, you’ll have to look at other options. The closest airport to Cedar Key with commercial flights is the Gainesville Regional Airport (GNV). After that, the closest airports are Tampa International Airport (TPA) and Orlando International Airport (MCO).
Cedar Key, Florida Map
The map below includes all of the places we recommend in this article. Things to see and do are in blue, tour and rental companies are in orange, and places to stay are in purple.
Things To Do In Cedar Key, Florida
Although it’s a small town, there are plenty of things to do in Cedar Key! You could easily spend a day exploring it’s natural beauty, museums, restaurants, and shops. Of course, there are also great places to stay in Cedar Key, so you could spend a whole weekend, week, or month there!
Beaches In Cedar Key, FL
There are a few beaches in Cedar Key. The easiest to get to is downtown on 2nd Street. It’s adjacent to City Park which also has a playground, Lil Shark Park. It’s perfect if you’re traveling to Cedar Key with kids. There are also bathrooms and showers so you can easily rinse off.
Some other popular beaches in Cedar Key are on nearby Atsena Otie Key and Sea Horse Key. You can take a ferry or kayak to these white sandy beaches.
Camping In Cedar Key, FL
The town already runs at a slow pace, but if you want to take it even further, we suggest camping in Cedar Key. There are multiple RV parks and campgrounds in Cedar Key that have great amenities. They offer rest and relaxation, but are still close enough to downtown that you can quickly drive in and have dinner at one of the many popular Cedar Key restaurants. We list popular campgrounds and RV parks in our Places To Stay section below.
Cedar Key Fishing
Being an island city, it’s no surprise that one of the top things to do in Cedar Key is to go fishing. The Cedar Key Fishing Pier is a popular spot, so get there early! It’s located downtown on the corner of Dock Street & C Street. The pier also has a fish cleaning table and restrooms.
There are also Cedar Key fishing charters you can go out on the water with. These are the top fishing charters according to Trip Advisor reviews:
Boat Rentals In Cedar Key, FL
If you’d like to go fishing on the water on your own, or just cruise around, you can also rent a boat for the day. Just be sure to pay attention to the tides. The waters around the islands tend to be shallow and you don’t want to get stranded during low tide. For boat rentals in Cedar Key, we recommend Cedar Key Boat Rentals and Island Tours and Cedar Key Marina II.
Cedar Key Kayaking
With all that beautiful water around, Cedar Key kayaking is really popular. It’s a great way to explore the islands, get up close to wildlife, and catch some amazing views. If you need to rent a kayak, the best place in town is Kayak Cedar Keys. Two of the most popular areas to kayak to are Atsena Otie Key and Sea Horse Key. Their big draws are their beaches, but they have other enticing attractions too.
Atsena Otie Key is where the original town of Cedar Key was built. However, on September 29, 1896 a hurricane hit the island and brought with it a 10-foot storm surge. The town was completely demolished and never rebuilt. Not much remains on the island now, but there is a cemetery which some believe is haunted and attracts many kayakers.
Sea Horse Key is home to the Cedar Key Light. It isn’t currently open to the public, though, as it is being used by the University of Florida as a marine laboratory. And for good reason too; the island is home to a lot of wildlife! If you’re a birder, you definitely want to kayak to Sea Horse Key. In fact, the island is home to over 200 bird species. Keep in mind, though, that March 1 to June 30 is nesting season so no visitors are allowed on the island.
Cedar Keys National Wildlife Refuge
The wildlife refuge is made up of 13 islands, including Atsena Otie Key and Sea Horse Key. You can get to the wildlife refuge by kayak, by tour boat, or by private or rented boats. This area is perfect for walking along the beach, hiking, and birding. Do keep in mind that the refuge has rules set in place to protect the flora and fauna. You cannot camp or build fires on the refuge and dogs must be leashed. Also, it is prohibited to collect plants, animals, shells or artifacts.
Shopping In Cedar Key, FL
There are a bunch of galleries and cute shops in town! You’ll find sculptures, paintings, household goods, and ocean-themed knickknacks. Whether you’re looking for a gift, or that perfect way to remember your vacation, you’ll be sure to find something unique. One of our favorites was Island Arts on Dock Street. They have pieces made by various artists, many of them local.
Cedar Key State Park And Museum
Another top attraction in town is the Cedar Key State Park And Museum. The park is about 18 acres and has a nature trail that is perfect for spotting local wildlife. The park also has a museum that details the history of the area and town. Visitors will also find the restored home of Saint Clair Whitman, the founder of the first museum in Cedar Key. The house has been restored and looks how it would have in the 1920s.
Fun fact: The naturalist John Muir spent a few months in Cedar Key in 1867, and there is a state historic marker near the museum to commemorate his time there.
Cedar Key Railroad Trestle Nature Trail
One of the best free things to do in Cedar Key is to take a walk along the town’s railroad trestle nature trail. The trailhead is on Grove Street, where you’ll find a small parking lot. It’s a short trail; not even half a mile. You’ll be walking on grass and sand. At the end of the trail, you’ll come up on some old posts that were once part of a bridge that carried trains across the water. There is also a bench at the end of the trail and it’s a really beautiful and peaceful place to sit and look over the water.
Cemetery Point Park
Honestly, we were a little hesitant to visit this trail because of the name lol! But we heard from locals that it was a really nice boardwalk so we decided to try it out. So yes, it is next to a cemetery, but at no point do you have to walk through it. There is a very small parking area outside of the cemetery where the boardwalk starts off to the right.
Walking along the boardwalk was really nice and there were a few overlooks where you could sit and enjoy the scenery. We heard it’s a nice place to fish, although we didn’t see anyone fishing when we were there. At the end of the boardwalk, there’s also a frisbee golf course.
Cedar Key Arts Center and Keyhole Co-op
Another great place to shop and support local artists is the Arts Center and Keyhole Co-op on 2nd Street. You’ll find some unique pieces and the art center has rotating exhibits throughout the year. We especially enjoyed the Sculpture Garden.
Cedar Key Historical Society Museum
We love visiting small town museums! We find they often have a more detailed and personal history portrayal than their big city counterparts. With all that said, this museum did not disappoint. In fact, we think it’s one of the best museums in Florida! It is made up of two buildings which house artifacts that date back to prehistoric times. The historical society really did a great job of displaying the history of the area.
Cedar Key Chamber Of Commerce
Of course, if you have any other questions about Cedar Key attractions, events, or things to do, we recommend popping into the Chamber of Commerce on 2nd Street. They have maps, brochures, and general information about the area.
Cedar Key Restaurants
There are plenty of great restaurants in Cedar Key. Many of them specialize in seafood, which really shouldn’t be surprising. Cedar Key oysters and clams are particularly popular. In our opinion, the best Cedar Key seafood can be found at Steamers.
Located right on Dock Street, this fun and casual restaurant has great views of the Gulf of Mexico. And, of course, it has great seafood. Now, this is probably the most popular restaurant in town, so expect a wait when you arrive. What we liked, though, is that they will text you when it’s time to be seated so you can wander along Dock Street to pass the time.
During our visit, we had Blackened Fish Tacos and a Fried Shrimp Basket. I still think about that shrimp and would drive back to town just to get some more! Everything was seasoned well and the fries were also nice and crispy. We also need to talk about their Key Lime Pie…
We’ll admit that key lime isn’t our “go-to” and we tend to only eat it when we’re visiting Key West. But we’d heard the key lime pie at Steamers was great and had a bit more flare than usual. So, we decided to try it and we were really happy that we did. The presentation was beautiful and it was tangy, but not overpowering. It was really quite delicious!
Best Places To Stay In Cedar Key, FL
If you’re looking for places to stay in Cedar Key, you’ve got a lot of options. There are hotels, home rentals, campgrounds, and RV parks in and around town. So whatever kind of stay you prefer, you’ll be able to find something that fits your needs.
Hotels In Cedar Key, FL
There are a few hotels in town, all within walking distance to restaurants and attractions. One of the most popular is the Beach Front Motel. It has a laid back attitude and the location can’t be beat. It’s perfectly situated to watch sunrises and sunsets! They are also pet-friendly, have a pool, and offer amenities like kitchenettes, air conditioning, and flat screen TVs.
Cedar Key Florida Rentals
If you’d prefer to rent a condo near the water, we recommend Seahorse Landing. These condos all have two bedrooms and two bathrooms and 30 foot private balconies. They also have fully equipped kitchens, a washer, dryer, air conditioning, and free WiFi in each condo. Seahorse Landing also has a pool and a canoe/kayak launch area.
Campgrounds In Cedar Key, FL
Want to have some nature and quiet time, but still be within a 20 minute drive to restaurants and attractions in town? Then Shady Oaks Campground is for you. They pride themselves in being a pet-friendly and family-oriented campground. There are large shaded lots, perfect for relaxing the day away. It’s a simple campground, but sometimes simple is better.
RV Parks In Cedar Key Florida
If you’re looking for an RV park with more amenities, check out Cedar Key RV Resort. Besides basic RV hookups, they also offer a clubhouse with full kitchen, laundry facilities, a bath house, free WiFi, and a dog park (although they are breed restrictive). The resort is only 10 minutes from downtown.
Things To Do Near Cedar Key, FL
As we mentioned earlier, Cedar Key is just a few hours drive from many other popular cities so taking a day trip would be fairly easy. We especially recommend checking out all of the things to do in Central Florida. There are natural springs, hiking trails, museums, and amusement parks. You can even see mermaids!
Additional Tips For Your Visit
Maybe this goes without saying, but Florida is hot! No mater what time of year, make sure you’re staying hydrated. We also recommend protecting yourself from the sun by wearing a hat and using Reef Safe Sunscreen. While you’re hiking, it’s a good idea to put on some insect repellent. We recommend Sky Organics Organic Bug Spray. It is vegan and cruelty-free and uses ingredients like citronella oil, lavender oil, and lemongrass essential oil.
Final Thoughts On Visiting Cedar Key, Florida
We really enjoyed our trip to Cedar Key! We loved the laid back attitude, food, and all of the different things to do. If you’re thinking of a family road trip or a fun weekend getaway with your gal pals, this town is perfect for you!