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Miles from nowhere, but close to the heart

Cedar Key is a hidden gem on Florida's Gulf Coast

July 7, 1997
Web posted at: 12:01 p.m. EDT (1601 GMT)

Story and photos by KC Wildmoon

Sunset at Cedar Key

(CNN) -- An hour's drive southwest of Gainesville, Florida, Cedar Key was once a booming town on the Gulf of Mexico -- the end of a railroad line that spanned the state from Amelia Island's Fernandina Beach to the Gulf. The two-lane highway into Cedar Key, Route 24, passes one-story stucco cottages and miles and miles of scrub pine before it finally crosses the backwater marshes and settles inside the city limits, where it dead-ends.

Cedar Key at a glance

It's not the kind of place you find by accident -- that lonely highway goes to it, not through it. But Cedar Key is well worth the trip.

Surrounded by islands designated as the Cedar Keys National Wildlife Refuge, the town is hemmed in by wilderness.

It's not the kind of place you find by accident -- that lonely highway goes to it, not through it.

It's a bird-watchers paradise, from grackles and the occasional stray parrot on power lines to the rookery-laced islands off in the Gulf.

Touring the Gulf here is an easy proposition -- hitch a ride on a tour, or rent a boat and cruise the shallow waters yourself. A warning: the tides are fast, and enough water to put a boat ashore may be gone before you return, leaving your transportation high and dry for hours.

Spotting the seabirds | In and around Cedar Key
The natural beauty of northern Florida

Cedar Key, FL at a glance

bulletAverage year-round temperature:
80° F

bulletAir access:
Cedar Key has a small, unattended runway. Gainesville (about 50 miles from Cedar Key) is the nearest major commercial airport.

50 miles southwest of I-75 on the Gulf of Mexico


approximately 1,000

bullet Water access: Cedar Key Public Marina and several private marinas offer boat slips; reservations recommended for long stays at the city marina
A Cedar Key Sampling

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