My wife and I first visited Cedar Key in 2005 and stayed at the Faraway Inn’s Cottage #3. We instantly fell in love with Cedar Key and the Faraway Inn. Almost ten years later decided to celebrate Valentine’s Day by staying in Cottage #1, closest to the waterfront, hoping to relive our first visit. This stay was even better, if that’s even possible. Falling asleep to the sounds of the surf just outside the window, waking up to the cries of ospreys after the most restful night we’ve had in years, a wonderful breakfast at Kona Joe’s, dinner and music at the Big Deck on Dock Street… all reminding us that magic still exists in Florida for those who seek it, so much so that we never left. This amazing little island in the Gulf is now our home.
Cedar Key is not the Florida I had known from a lifetime of visiting the state on business trips and vacations. This is not Orlando, nor is it Miami, Ft. Lauderdale, Key West, or any other tourist trap. We thank God for that. It is an escape to the true Florida of the past, where you can become part of nature rather than intrude on it; where a hard-working locals do their best to welcome you as a guest rather than an cash cow; where you can leave your car unlocked with the keys in it and not worry about coming out of a restaurant to find it gone. The laid-back, relaxed attitude of the island quickly takes hold of the souls of even the most irritable and fast-paced Yankees (such as myself!) who soon find themselves acclimated to an environment where cell phones and timepieces can be left in the room and the stresses of life checked at the Number 4 bridge.
No place in Cedar Key better exemplifies the charm and closeness of the island than the Faraway Inn, a place unlike any we have ever stayed. Each cottage and room is unique, filled with local art, clean, comfortable, pet- and family-friendly, affordable, and staffed by the friendliest people you are ever likely to meet. Guests are offered free use of bicycles and kayaks as well as reasonably-priced golf cart rentals, with which you can explore the nature and rich history of the island. A short drive by car or motorcycle will bring you to any number of wildlife refuges largely untouched and unspoiled by man. It truly is a nature lover’s dream.
Cedar Key and the Faraway Inn are rare diamonds in a mountain of broken glass, perfectly suited to those who don’t require others to entertain them but are capable of charting their own course in exploring a world different from the restaurant chains, traffic jams, and shopping malls of nearly all other Florida travel destinations. This is not a Hilton or a Holiday Inn. It is more like a home away from home. That is something the owners, Doreen and Oliver, should be (and undoubtedly are) proud of.