Welcome to Cedar Key!
When you first arrive here you will notice that the pace of life is slower. People on the street say hello as you pass by; shopkeepers will greet you warmly. One of our favorite shops is the Cedar Key Canvas Company. There you can browse the shelves of hand-sewn canvas bags of all types: wallets, purses, hand bags, backpacks, and duffle-bags. At the Cedar Keyhole, local craftsman and artists display their creations and also work in the store, so you can talk with them personally about their work.
At the Island Hotel and Restaurant your waitress may proudly talk about Cedar Key leading the nation in clam production and the politics and natural resources that brought the industry here. The Island Hotel, a national historic treasure, is complete with old fashioned bar, good tap beer, and lots of stories surrounding its infamous past.
Another favorite eating place is the Island Room, a stone's throw from our condo. Both restaurants serve gourmet food and nightly specials with fresh seafood from the Gulf waters. The Island Room makes its own pasta and rolls to add to its already excellent menu. Both establishments have entertainment from local musicians to enliven your dining.
Cedar Key's Dock Street offers a variety of restaurants, art and craft galleries, and shops for your enjoyment. The best part is that all these places are within walking distance from the Sandpiper, so you need never get back in your car!
Step back in time and explore....By Land or By Sea
There are several ways to see Cedar Key. You can rent a golf cart, a bicycle, or a scooter right in town or you can take a walking tour. Second Street is the town's historic main-drag. As you travel along you will see buildings of wood and tabby (mix of mortar and sea-shells) and architectural styles with gables and verandas and facades reminiscent of an old western town. The street is a collage of private dwellings, lodgings, hotels, bed and breakfasts, and shops. Its an eclectic mix of old and new, peeling and painted, run-down and restored, all lending to the charm of this village on Florida's Nature Coast.
Imagine gliding across the water's surface with seabirds and dolphins cavorting above and below you; paddling slowly towards a bald eagle's nest to get a glimpse of the magnificent bird; or walking on a trail where early American's lived hundreds of years ago. It's easy to explore the natural history and ecology of the region in and around Cedar Key. The convergence of the Suwannee River and the Gulf of Mexico create a unique system of tidal salt marshes, estuaries, mangrove islands, and mud flats. Vast expanses of marsh grasses converge with tracts of forests and hammocks. The salt marshes, tidal flats, and mangroves are important nursery grounds for fish, shrimp, and shellfish.
Thirteen islands of the archipelago are protected as the Cedar Key National Wildlife Refuge. Many are covered by evergreen foliage of the live oak, cabbage palm, red bay, and laurel oak; these trees form an over-story for the greenery of the cherry laurel, saw palmetto, yaupon, wild olive, prickly pear cactus, Spanish bayonet, and the eastern red cedar. The islands range in size from 1 to 65 acres and rank as one of the largest bird nesting areas in all of Florida. Many of these birds are protected by state and federal law including white ibis, brown pelicans, snowy egrets, bald eagles, ospreys, tri-colored herons, and American oystercatchers. This group is part of the over 250 species of birds that inhabit the refuge islands.
The Lower Suwannee National Wildlife Refuge contains archeological evidence of early American native settlements and fishing grounds. There are also hiking trails and the ranger station offers information and assistance for visitors. Most of the natural areas of the region are accessible by boat, kayak, on foot, or by short car rides.
The eastern red cedar trees provided the resource for the Faber Pencil Company to build their factory on Cedar Key early in this century. The Cedar Key Historic Museum has exhibits to show how pencils were produced. The museum also houses displays of past industries such as broom-making, lumbering, and fish and shellfish harvesting. The wealth of natural resources brought the first railroad across the state along with an early thriving tourist industry.
The sea has always provided sustenance for islanders. As the fishing industry changed, residents began raising clams in the early 1990's. Cedar Key is one of the few remaining working waterfronts in Florida. Many families make their living from the sea as the islands waters are one of the best places in North America to farm raise clams.