Cedar Keys National Wildlife Refuge
Cedar Keys National Wildlife Refuge is a group of fragile coastal islands just off the town of Cedar Key, Florida. Established in 1929, Cedar Keys National Wildlife Refuge contains significant natural and cultural resources from pre-historic and historic times. Today, the Refuge consists of 13 islands ranging in size from 1 to 120 acres, totaling 762 acres. Ancient Indian cultures once used these off-shore islands as living areas – a place of shelter and where food from the Gulf of Mexico was plentiful and readily available. In more recent history, the famous Faber Pencil Mill was located on Atsena Otie Key where it’s remains can be seen today. Wading birds, shorebirds, fishes, manatees, bald eagles, crabs, and even reptiles are some of the species of wildlife that find suitable habitat on the islands and marshes that make-up Cedar Keys National Wildlife Refuge. Most public use at Cedar Keys is focused on Atsena Otie Key which is owned by the Suwannee River Water Management District and managed as part of the Refuge. Here visitors will find a dock, interpretive information, composting toilet facility, and a hiking trail.
Cedar Key Scrub State Reserve
Salt marshes on the Gulf of Mexico give way to a succession of swamps, hardwood forests, pine flatwoods, and scrub, providing splendid opportunities for nature study and wildlife observation. The scrub is dominated by species such as sand live oak, myrtle oak, and Chapman’s oak, along with rusty lyonia, and saw palmetto. Hikers and off-road bicyclists who want to experience a mosaic of Florida habitats will find it on the miles of trails that wind through the park. The shallow waters and numerous creeks near the salt marshes are ideal for canoeing and kayaking. Rental canoes and kayaks are available in the city of Cedar Key. The park has a picnic shelter, tables, and grills. Located on State Road 24 about six miles east of Cedar Key.
Cedar Key Historical Society Museum
Exhibits, pictures, artifacts. A self-guided Walking Tour with over fifty historical sites.
Cedar Key Museum State Park
The museum contains exhibits that depict its colorful history during that era. Part of the collection has sea shells and Indian artifacts collected by Saint Clair Whitman, the founder of the first museum in Cedar Key. Whitman’s house is located at the park and has been restored to reflect life in the 1920s. A short nature trail gives visitors the opportunity to see wildlife and birds, as well as native vegetation. Small gray squirrels, doves, mockingbirds, blue jays, woodpeckers, and green tree frogs can be seen on the museum grounds and along the walking trail. The museum is open Thursday-Monday from 9:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m. and is closed on Christmas. Located off State Road 24 on Museum Drive.
Waccassassa Bay State Preserve
Accessible only by boat, this preserve is a favorite of anglers because it boasts both saltwater and freshwater fishing. Bordering Florida’s Gulf Coast between Cedar Key and Yankeetown, extensive salt marshes and tidal creeks create habitats for saltwater fish, crabs, and shellfish. The park’s uplands protect a remnant of the Gulf Hammock that once spanned thousands of acres between the Suwannee and Withlacoochee rivers. Endangered and threatened species-including West Indian manatees, bald eagles, American alligators, and Florida black bears-live or feed within the preserve. Although there aren’t any marked foot trails, nature enthusiasts can enjoy wildlife viewing from a canoe. A primitive campsite on the Waccasassa River, accessible only by private boat, is available on a first-come-first-served basis. Boat access is from County Road 40 in Yankeetown, County Road 326 in Gulf Hammock, and Cedar Key.
Shell Mound Park
A prehistoric Indian mound and nature trail off Highway 347 on CR 326 outside Cedar Key offers camping, boat ramp, and picnicking. Call 352-221-4466 for more information.
Lower Suwannee National Wildlife Refuge
The 53,000 acre Lower Suwannee National Wildlife Refuge was established in 1979 to protect one of the largest undeveloped river-delta estuarine systems in the United States. The constant influx of nutrients from the river combined with numerous off-shore islands and tidal creeks create excellent wildlife habitat. Swallow-tailed kites, bald eagles, West Indian manatees, Gulf sturgeon, whitetailed deer, and eastern wild turkeys are but a few of the wildlife species that inhabit the Refuge. Natural salt marshes, tidal flats, bottomland hardwood swamps, and pine forests provide habitat for thousands of creatures – both large and small. The Refuge offers recreational and educational activities for everyone. Bird and wildlife observation, wildlife photography, fishing, canoeing, hunting, and interpretive walks are all available. A new Wildlife Drive is under construction and several boardwalks and observation towers offer unique views of Refuge wildlife and habitat.
Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park
Experience Florida’s wildlife up close in one of Florida’s loveliest natural settings. A Florida State Park, Homosassa Springs is truly unique as a park featuring a wide variety of native wildlife including the endangered manatees, and a myriad of fresh and saltwater fish in a first-magnitude spring. A floating observatory allows visitors an underwater view of the spring with its resident manatees and the hundreds of fish who are free to come and go. A recently completed Wildlife Walk leads you on an elevated boardwalk through habitats for Florida Black Bears, cougars, bobcats, river otters, grey fox and red fox and much more. Birds of prey, wading birds, and waterfowl also pose for photographers strolling through the Wildlife Walk. A reptile exhibit features many of Florida’s reptiles, both venomous and non-venomous. Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park is also one of only five places where you can see a Whooping Crane up close, and one of only two places that have Florida Key Deer exhibit.
Manatee Springs State Park
A first magnitude spring, over 100 million gallons of water gush forth daily at Manatee Springs. In winter, manatees swim upriver to spend the night in the warm waters of the headspring. Popular for snorkeling and scuba diving, the headwaters of the spring are also a great spot for swimming. The spring run forms a sparkling stream that meanders through hardwood wetlands to the Suwannee River. A concession provides beverages, snacks and canoe/kayak rentals. Children can enjoy a playground in the picnic area. Hiking and biking are available on the north end trail system. The full-facility campground is surrounded by hardwood trees and sandhills. Reserve a canoe or kayak by calling Suwannee River Tours at (352) 490-9797. Located at the end of State Road 320, off U.S. 98, six miles west of Chiefland.
Audubon Center for Birds of Prey
Located in Maitland, Florida, an urban environmental nature center that specializes in the rescue, medical care, rehabilitation and release of sick, injured and orphaned raptors (birds of prey). More than 40 percent of over 700 annual patients are returned to the wild. Some 20 different species of raptors, which cannot be returned to the wild due to injuries, are used in our conservation education programs.
Far from the glitter, noise, traffic and bright lights of a city. The nighttime sky offers tremendous stargazing possibilities. The Cedar Key Star Party is held annually, a week-long winter stargazing event under some of the very darkest skies in Florida at temperatures that won’t chill your bones. See Omega Centauri, Centaurus A, Jupiter, Saturn and a host of other fine sights riding high in the winter sky. Amateurs astronomers working the event host three nights of public observing for the local community and tourists on the Cedar Key and also have four nights to themselves at a even darker nearby private location.
Marina and boat launch ramps, Fishing Piers, City Park, Public Library, Post Office, and 911 Service.
Galleries, gift shops, boutiques, bookstore, banks, grocery & convenience store, hardware, gas & garage services.
From simple to fine dining, Cedar Key restaurants feature fresh local seafood. Nightclubs provide music for those who wish to partake in a tame touch of nightlife. See out Places To Eat page for more info.