Exploring Cedar Key
When John Muir finished up his 1,000 Mile Journey to the Gulf in 1867, it was at the terminus of the Florida Railroad, the first cross-state transportation system, in the Cedar Keys. A collection of islands between the mouth of the Suwannee River and Wacassassa Bay, the Cedar Keys got their name from the forests of cedar that once covered them. When this resource was discovered by early settlers, they started a pencil-making industry on Atsena Otie Key, the first of the keys to be chartered as a city. The remains of that factory, and a graveyard, remain on the island today.
Today’s Cedar Key is the town at the end of SR 24. What remains of the trestle has been turned into a nature trail, and the waterfront is crowded with funky little seafood places with decent food. To get to the other islands, you need to hop a cruise or bring a sea kayak and have some experience crossing open waters. Two national wildlife refuges and several state parks protect much of the coastline and islands around this geographically isolated, artsy community.