Nestled in Levy County, Florida, Cedar Key is a town that encapsulates a unique blend of history, culture, and natural beauty. Once an important port during the Civil War, Cedar Key became a bustling center for shipbuilding, timber, and fishing. Although the town has undergone many changes over the years, it has retained its charm and remains a semi-ghost town with numerous original buildings lining its streets.
Despite its rich history, Cedar Key is not as well-known as other tourist destinations in Florida. However, it is increasingly gaining popularity as a hidden gem for those seeking a quieter and more authentic experience.
In this article, we will explore the fascinating story of Cedar Key and discover why it is considered Florida’s hidden ghost town. From its intriguing history to its unique attractions, we will delve deeper into the town’s hidden treasures and uncover what makes Cedar Key a special place to visit.
- Cedar Key is a subtropical town in Levy County, Florida, accessible by 2WD roads, with a consistently warm climate year-round.
- The town has a rich history closely tied to the Civil War and a devastating hurricane in 1896, which destroyed most of the town. Many original buildings and homes from the 1800s have been preserved and are now part of the historic district.
- Cedar Key is a popular destination for visitors interested in fishing, seafood, art, and nature. The town offers fishing charters, boat rentals, seafood restaurants, art galleries, a museum, and the Cedar Key Scrub State Reserve, which offers kayaking, hiking, and birdwatching opportunities.
- The town hosts several festivals yearly, including the Cedar Key Seafood Festival and the Spring Arts Festival. Cedar Key is a must-visit destination for anyone traveling to Florida who is looking for a quieter and more authentic experience.
Location and History
Cedar Key, a former major shipping port in the hands of the Confederates until 1862, is located in Levy County, Florida and is accessible by 2WD roads.
After the Union forces captured Cedar Key in 1862, it became a major shipbuilding, timber, and fishing center.
However, the town’s prosperity was short-lived as a hurricane in 1896 destroyed most of the town, leaving it in a state of disrepair.
Nevertheless, many original buildings remain, and the hotel established in 1859 stands as a testament to the town’s rich history.
The hotel survived the 1896 hurricane and is now a Bed and Breakfast, listed on the Register of Historical Places.
Cedar Key’s history is closely tied to the Civil War and the hurricane impact.
The town’s location made it a strategic port for the Confederates, but it was captured by the Union forces in 1862.
After the war, the town experienced a period of growth, but the 1896 hurricane dealt a fatal blow to its development.
Today, Cedar Key is a semi-ghost town that serves as a resort and fishing town and is a popular tourist destination.
Despite its tumultuous past, Cedar Key’s history is preserved in its original buildings, including the hotel that survived the hurricane.
Tourism and Attractions
One of the main draws for visitors to Cedar Key is the thriving fishing industry, with many opportunities for fishing excursions and fresh seafood dining experiences. Fishing charters and boat rentals are available for those who want to venture out into the Gulf and try their hand at catching redfish, trout, and other species. The town also has several seafood restaurants serving locally caught fish and other seafood delicacies like oysters and clams. Visitors can also take a tour of the clam and oyster farms that are a major part of the local economy.
Aside from fishing and dining, there are plenty of other things to do in Cedar Key. The town has several art galleries showcasing the work of local artists, as well as a museum that highlights the town’s history and natural environment. Visitors can also take a stroll along the town’s historic district, which features many original buildings and homes from the 1800s. For those who enjoy outdoor activities, Cedar Key offers kayaking, hiking, and birdwatching opportunities in the nearby Cedar Key Scrub State Reserve.
Overall, Cedar Key offers a unique blend of history, natural beauty, and local cuisine that make it a must-visit destination for anyone traveling to Florida.
Climate and Best Time to Visit
The climate in Cedar Key is consistently warm, making it an appealing destination to visit throughout the year. The town is located in the subtropical climate zone and has a humid climate. During the winter months, the temperature ranges from 50°F to 70°F, while in the summer months, the temperature ranges from 70°F to 90°F. The town receives abundant rainfall throughout the year, with the highest precipitation in the summer and fall months. Visitors should be prepared for occasional thunderstorms during their stay.
The warm climate of Cedar Key makes it a perfect destination for outdoor activities all year round. Visitors can enjoy fishing, kayaking, and boating in the Gulf of Mexico. In the winter months, visitors can also take part in birdwatching, as Cedar Key is home to a variety of species of birds. The town also hosts several festivals throughout the year, including the Cedar Key Seafood Festival in October and the Spring Arts Festival in April.
Visitors can enjoy the town’s many restaurants, shops, and galleries, and explore the historical buildings preserved from the town’s past.
Frequently Asked Questions
How did Cedar Key get its name?
Cedar Key’s name is said to have originated from the abundant red cedar trees found on the island. However, it is also believed that the name may have been influenced by Native Americans who inhabited the area. Cedar Key’s history is rich with Native American influence.
What type of wildlife can be found in and around Cedar Key?
Cedar Key, Florida offers opportunities for manatee spotting in its surrounding waters and boasts several birdwatching hotspots. The area is home to a variety of wildlife, including herons, egrets, pelicans, and ospreys, making it a haven for nature enthusiasts.
Are there any haunted locations in Cedar Key?
There are reportedly haunted spots in Cedar Key, including the Island Hotel. Guests have reported paranormal experiences, such as seeing apparitions and feeling cold spots. The hotel is on the Register of Historical Places.
What is the local cuisine like in Cedar Key?
Cedar Key boasts of a seafood-focused local cuisine, with seafood specialties such as clam chowder and oysters on the half shell. The town also offers fusion dishes that blend traditional southern flavors with contemporary culinary techniques.
Is there any notable artwork or cultural events in Cedar Key?
Cedar Key has a rich artistic tradition and hosts several local festivals celebrating its cultural heritage. Notable artwork can be found throughout the town, including murals, sculptures, and galleries showcasing the work of local artists.