Historic / Northwest Florida

Cedar Key: Coolest small town in Florida?

Cedar Key is cool. So says Budget Travel magazine, which announced its 10 Coolest Small Towns in America. The only Florida town among them is a winner in my book: Cedar Key.

We love Cedar Key for exactly the same reasons it was recognized by Budget Travel.  The magazine says:

Despite its prime location on the Gulf of Mexico, Cedar Key has escaped the pull of developers. Its spit of beach isn’t long enough to attract large-scale building projects. Instead, it still feels like a ramshackle, old fishing village straight out of Hemingway.

Another reason the path to Cedar Key is so unbeaten: The closest cities, Ocala and Gainesville, and the main route, I-75, are 60 miles away.

Sailing near Cedar Key

Sailing near Cedar Key. Photo by Kellie Parkin

A FloridaRambler.com guide to Cedar Key describes several nearby places to hike, the fun of browsing through the galleries on the three-block-long main street and what a great base Cedar Key makes for kayaking outings.

Indeed, we want to return and kayak out to Atsena Otie Key, an island that was home to the original town built in the Cedar Keys, a cluster of small islands.  Here a pencil-wood factory and town thrived in the 1890s until  the hurricane of 1896 and a 10-foot storm surge flattened the town. Surviving residents moved to the island that is now Cedar Key.  It’s said to be an easy kayak and you can visit other islands nearby with great beaches and birding.

If you want to explore Cedar Key, consider planning a trip around the Cedar Key Art Festival, held in April each year. The Cedar Key Art Festival  is not your cookie-cutter commercial art fair, filled with the same old food vendors and the same old bad art. It has distinctly local flavor, where you’ll find little old church ladies, high school kids and the town’s leaders all selling foods you won’t find anywhere else.

Read more about Cedar Key in this previous Florida Rambler story and about the Cedar Key Art Festival.


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  1. Visit seecedarkey.com for a huge collection of beautiful photographs of Cedar Key.

  2. We stayed there, too, Rick. No kittens. But lots of character!

  3. Rick Ott says:

    We visited the delightful old hotel on the main street 30 years ago. It was a piece of history even then. The most unexpected part of our stay was at check in. As we were about to leave the front desk the owner reached into a drawer behind the counter and produced a fluffy kitten. Your room comes with a free kitten. Fortunately it was optional.

  4. Pingback: Cedar Key Seafood Festival, Oct. 15-16, 2011: Uncommon opportunity | Florida Rambler

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