Is Cedar Key Worth Visiting? Pros & Cons to Help You Decide!

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Nestled quietly among other tiny keys on the Gulf Coast of Florida, 50 miles southwest of Gainesville, Cedar Key is a piece of oasis in the ocean known for its unspoiled natural beauty and Old Florida charm, and rich history.

While many people that flock to North Florida for a vacation are not even aware of this tiny charming island even those who often tend to overlook its appeal as a relaxing vacation getaway.

So, is Cedar Key worth visiting? Here are the Pros and Cons to help you decide for yourself whether this charming and tranquil little island is a perfect fit for you or not.

Is Cedar Key Worth Visiting?

If a peaceful, low-key vacation destination with unspoiled natural beauty with excellent fishing, birdwatching, nature trails, kayaking and fascinating history sounds appealing to you, then Cedar Key is definitely worth visiting.

If you are looking for a more active or bustling vacation experience with vibrant nightlife, lively crowds, plenty of activities to enjoy, shopping malls, restaurants, and wide and pristine beaches with excellent surf breaks, then Cedar Key is definitely not a great choice for you.

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Here are the Pros that make Cedar Key a must-visit destination

Amazing Natural Beauty

Cedar Key beauty - Is Cedar Key Worth Visiting

If you long to escape to a place of peaceful beauty, then Cedar Key is the perfect destination.

The natural beauty there is simply mesmerizing! From its charming beachside village with historic buildings without tall high rises and franchise restaurants to the untouched serene islands just miles away, every inch of this coastal town is bursting with character.

It’s not surprising why many artists, writers, and nature enthusiasts call it a haven. They draw inspiration from the captivating surroundings and tranquil vibe of this charming small-town island.

Take it all in while kayaking or canoeing along its mangrove trails and wild marshes; let its enchanting sunset views captivate your attention; fall asleep to the sound of waves lapping at the shore – whatever your heart desires from a relaxing holiday getaway, revel in it in Cedar Key.

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Seafood Paradise

Clam Chowder Cedar Key
Image credit: Image by Jen on Wikimedia Commons

For an island that is located in the deep waters of the Gulf Coast of Florida, it shouldn’t come as a surprise as to why it’s a paradise for seafood connoisseurs.

Whether you’re a fan of seafood or just enjoy trying new dishes, Cedar Key has something for everyone.

From local seafood restaurants to mom-and-pop shops serving up delicious sandwiches, there’s something for every taste bud in this coastal paradise.

Plus, with an abundance of fresh seafood available at the docks, it’s easy to find whatever your heart desires when dining in Cedar Key.

Be sure to check out Tony’s Seafood Restaurant if you want an authentic taste of what locals eat! Make sure to try their iconic clam chowder dish which will leave your taste buds craving for more.

Fishing Paradise

fishing in key largo Is Cedar Key Worth Visiting? Pros & Cons to Help You Decide!

Fishing in Cedar Key is something everyone should experience.

This charming little island located on the Northwest coast of Florida offers some of the best saltwater fishing around. From pontoon boats to kayaks and gorgeous sunsets, your inner angler will be delighted by all that the area has to offer.

Whether you’re searching for a grouper, snook or barracuda, or redfish or snapper you have a great chance of landing a giant catch due to an abundance of fish nearby.

Plus, you’re probably going to enjoy the calming sounds and feel of being out on the water – not just because you may outsmart some of these fishy critters but also because of its beautiful panoramic views.

So grab your tackle and come out to Cedar Key for an unforgettable fishing experience today.

Rich Cultural History

Island Hotel Cedar Key
Image by Ebyabe on Wikimedia Commons

If you’re a history buff, then there’s more for you to love about this charming little island than others. Cedar Key is simply a haven for history buffs.

The island was once home to Native American tribes before becoming a bustling port city during Civil War times (which was later destroyed by Union forces).

After the war, the Faber pencil company opened a wood mill due to the presence of many Cedar trees bringing prosperity to the island.

Today many structures still remain from those days including churches, lighthouses, train depots and more – all ready for exploration by curious tourists like yourself.

And don’t forget about museums like Island Hotel & Museum, opened in 1859 where artifacts unearthed on-site showcase even more fascinating facts about this area’s past inhabitants.

Outdoor Activities

When it comes to outdoor activities, Cedar Key knows how to have fun. For an island that is home to a population of just 800 permanent residents, there is certainly much more to do than you might think otherwise.

From fishing and kayaking to beach days and nature walks, there is no shortage of ways to explore the great outdoors in Cedar Key.

Unlike other popular and bigger keys in Florida like Key West or Siesta Key, outdoor activities in Cedar Key revolve more around exploring its natural and cultural attractions, than other modern sources of entertainment and outdoor activities like theme parks and arcades that can be easily found in other popular islands.

Plus, with the average temperature hovering around 80 degrees Fahrenheit year-round (that’s 26 for our Celsius friends!), you can experience all that Cedar Key has to offer any time of year.

A haven for birdwatching

Cedar Key Birdwatching

Cedar Key, Florida is a runner-up paradise for birdwatchers and nature observers.

With the varied landscape of wetlands, marshes, and coastlines, it’s an ideal environment to observe numerous species of birds.

Not to mention that it’s a calming oasis filled with peace and tranquility. The most common birds seen in this area include Wood Storks, White Pelicans, Common Gallinules, Oystercatchers, several kinds of Osprey, Bald Eagles, Egrets, Cormorants and so much more.

Whether you’re an avid birder or a novice observer who just enjoys being outside in nature – watching these majestic creatures flap their wings against an unforgettable sunset sky – Cedar Keys provides even the laziest among us with plenty of opportunities to discover stunning wildlife.

Fun Festivals & Events Year Round

Last but not least – who doesn’t love festivals? Every year Cedar key hosts numerous events ranging from live music concerts at Sea Plane Basin Park to arts & crafts fairs at City Park Square (both free!).

Whether it be the Seafood Festival in October that features mouth-watering offerings, the Wide Wonderful World of an Art show with one-of-a-kind pieces, the Pirate festival, or the Stargazing party in February, there’s something for everyone in this quaint coastal community.

Plus you can enjoy fishing tournaments and a spectacular Fourth of July fireworks display put on each year. It’s no wonder travelers from all over come to visit. With so much to offer, Cedar Key is indeed a special place!

Cons of visiting Cedar Key

No High-End Shopping Sprees Here

Let’s face it—shopping can be therapeutic!

However, if you’re planning on coming to Cedar Key in search of the latest designer trends or the new must-have tech gadget, you’ll likely be disappointed.

The local shops cater more to fishermen and sunbathers than they do fashionistas.

So if shopping is your thing, then stick with your usual haunts and find another place to unwind.

Definitely not for beach lovers

If you are looking for one of those miles and miles of pristine and wide and soft sand beaches with turquoise blue waters that Florida is known for, then Cedar key is sure to disappoint you.

I mean Cedar Key definitely has beaches but they are nowhere near to in terms of their beauty and activities to enjoy compared to other beaches Florida is known for.

Cedar has relatively small beaches most of which are undeveloped and are mostly used by local fishermen to dock their boats.

Limited Nightlife Options

Cedar Key isn’t exactly known for its wild nightlife scene. In fact, most restaurants close by 9 pm and many bars also close early (by 10 pm in most cases).

So if you’re looking for a place that allows you to party until dawn with all sorts of entertainment options available until late into the night, then this simply won’t be the right fit for you.

Too Much Relaxation

If you’re looking for an energy-filled vacation full of nightlife and adventure, Cedar Key may not be the place for you.

With its relaxed atmosphere and slow pace of life, visitors often find themselves quickly succumbing to island time.

That means no buzzing shops or busy restaurants – just peace and tranquility. So if you’re looking for a fast-paced vacation spot with plenty of things to do and places to explore, best look elsewhere.

Limited Accessibility

Unfortunately due to its remote location on Florida’s Gulf Coast, traveling to Cedar Key can be difficult—especially if you don’t have access to your own vehicle.

The nearest airport is over 2 hours away by car—and public transportation options are virtually nonexistent unless you plan on taking a very long bus ride from Gainesville or Jacksonville.


With so much natural beauty, tasty eats, rich cultural history and fun events year round; it’s easy to see why people flock from far and wide just for a taste of what makes Cedar Key so special.

So don’t delay any longer — book yourself tickets now before they’re all gone because this place really is worth visiting if you are really after the ultimate relaxing getaway in North Florida.

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About the author
James Williams
Hey there! I'm James Williams, the guy behind I'm a born-and-raised Floridian, and I'm stoked to share my travel adventures with you. On my website, you'll get a taste of Florida through my eyes – the places I love, the hidden gems, and the stories that make the Sunshine State special. Join me on this journey as I take you through the heart and soul of Florida, one post at a time!

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