Established in 1962 as the first museum to capture Cedar Key’s long history, the compound that makes up Cedar Key Museum State Park is the legacy of a colorful resident.
St. Clair Whitman started it all with his own personal museum of artifacts and seashells. Whitman’s house is under restoration, and a short nature trail leads along the edge of the estuary.
In 1867 naturalist John Muir followed the path of the Florida Railroad on his 1,000-mile walk to the Gulf of Mexico, ending up in Cedar Key.
After arriving here, he fell ill with malaria and spent several months living in the village, which had a booming pencil industry at the time.
Resources for exploring the area
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Location: Cedar Key
Length: 0.3 mile loop
Trailhead: 29.150685, -83.048521
Address: 12231 SW 166th Ct, Cedar Key
Fees: Grounds are free. Museum admission $2 per person
Restroom: At the museum
Land manager: Florida State Parks
Grounds open 8 AM until sunset daily. Leashed pets welcome outdoors.
Museum open Fri-Sun 10-5. Check ahead regards status of the Whitman House as it is undergoing renovations.
From US 19 north of Chiefland, take SR 24 west to Cedar Key. Once on the island, watch for the first right turn off 24. Turn right onto Whiddon Ave. Pass the high school. Turn right on Gulf Blvd, left on Hodges Ave, and right on SW 166th Ct Dr. The parking area is on the right.
Slightly over a quarter mile in length, the nature trail loops to the edge of the estuary behind the Whitman House.
It’s open, breezy, and offers panoramic views, providing a good spot for birding and photography. Look for butterflies amid the sea oxeye.
About the museum and park
More worth exploring while you’re in this area.
The original Cedar Key isn’t where you think it is. It’s offshore, within sight of the current historic waterfront, an island called Atsena Otie Key, part of Cedar Keys National Wildlife Refuge.
On the long dead-end road (SR 24) to Cedar Key, the route John Muir walked nearing his end of his Thousand Mile Walk to the Gulf, Cedar Key Scrub State Reserve protects upland scrub habitat for one of Florida’s rarest birds, the Florida scrub-jay. They travel in families, so if you see one, you’ll probably see several.
At the Shell Mound Unit of Lower Suwannee National Wildlife Refuge, the Dennis Creek Trail immerses you in classic habitats of the Gulf Coast along a 1-mile loop