Heads up, this is gonna be a long post. Originally, we planned for Cedar Key to be a quick stop to get some fresh seafood while Nick recovered from a cold. Before we knew it, we had spent an entire month there, Nick and the dogs spent their first Christmas apart from me there, and Nick and I brought in 2018 together there. We met a lot of people who live full-time in their RVs, saw some of the prettiest sunsets of our lives, and explored the quirky, unique, small town that seems to be frozen in time.
The shellfish in Cedar Key is amazing. One of our first days there, we toured the clam operation at Southern Cross Sea Farms. It was interesting to see the process of raising clams from start to finish, and it made the clams we got that night at Steamers taste that much better seeing where they came from!
Speaking of Steamers, our favorite meal there was gator bites as an appetizer, with either Oysters Rockefeller or raw oysters on the half shell, and steamed clams in white wine and garlic. We also loved the Island Hotel Restaurant! This place is actually two restaurants in one, because the bar serves food in a more casual setting than the main restaurant. You can get some less expensive meals at the bar as well as some live music many nights. The food there is amazzzzing.
The Oar House is a restaurant located on-site at Sunset isle RV park. It opened while we were staying there for breakfast and lunch, and will soon also be open for dinner. Breakfast was amazing, especially if you can get the breakfast hash on a day they are making it with bacon. It was absolutely delicious!
Cedar Key had some of the best live music of anywhere we’ve been so far! This was a huge surprise. Even at Sunset Isle RV park where we were staying, people would bust out their guitars, banjos, etc and it would actually sound really good! The bar next door to Sunset Isle was called Low Key Hideaway also often had live music.
Nick got me hooked on fishing for Red Fish towards the end of our trip. If you fish with live shrimp and head over to bridge 3, you will likely catch a few! Once I caught a couple, I realized how much fun it is (as long as Nick is the one to bait the hook and take the fish off once you catch it…).
We kayaked in the tidal bay right off of where we were camping. You have to be very careful because the water is shallow even at high tide and there are oyster beds everywhere. You can see the scars on the bottom of our kayaks from the sharp shells. But it was a lot of fun! We did bring our dogs with us, but I don’t think we’d do that again since the shells are so sharp. If they fell in, it would not be good.
The better place to kayak with the pups is in the gulf near town between Cedar Key and Atsena Otie Key. It’s deep, there aren’t many oysters, and dolphins will swim right up to your kayak!! The dolphins seemed to love my bright green kayak, so they were following me around and coming up out of the water close enough to me where I could have touched them! This was hands-down my favorite thing I’ve done so far. It was really fun!
Once we made it over to Atsena Otie with the dogs, they got to run on the beach with their e-collars on. They had a BLAST! They found shells horseshoe crabs had shed, chased birds, and found fish on the beach. There’s a trail on this key that goes to a historic cemetery which is eery and really cool at the same time. But, the mosquitoes were absolutely horrific and we found ourselves sprinting back down the trail to the beach to get away from them.
On our last couple of days in Cedar Key, we squeezed a lot in! We went to both museums there, found some fresh and delicious Stone Crab to try for the first time, visited Shell Mound Archaeological site, and flew with Marve in his Cessna over Cedar Key(you can watch our video of this flight here).
We will never forget the sunsets at Cedar Key! Every day they were unique and we found new places to end the day watching the beautiful sky. We have hundreds of pictures to prove this :)
One challenge for us here was exercising the dogs. They couldn’t go swimming because the shallow water has incredibly sharp oyster shells everywhere, and there’s not much land they’re able to run on where they can’t find their way into the water. We finally found two good options to solve this problem. The first is what I mentioned earlier, kayaking over to Atsena Otie Key with them and letting them run along the sandy beach. We also would take them across the street from the Dollar General to where there is a baseball field. There’s a sign there saying no dogs are allowed, and we did honor that! We simply kept them outside the fence, made sure to bring doggie bags and pick up after them very prudently, and kept their e-collars on them so they could run and we could keep them from going near the road. This was amazing once we found it!!
Despite our best efforts, Baiden got cut by oyster shells twice while we were there on his paw pads. These cuts are tough to keep clean and closed so they can heal. One time, he fell off of a dock and into the shallow water. The other time, we were letting them run in the Cemetery Park where others had recommended for dogs. Of course they ran straight into the water before we could stop them and before we could get them out, he had cut himself again!
Another negative is that Sunset Isle RV Park and Motel was developed a long time ago so the sites are small and very narrow. Some are really tough to get into with a long bed truck and 25 foot trailer. That being said, many people there had huge motorhomes and apparently navigated just fine. We just prefer a bit more space between us and our neighbors.
The final negative isn’t a huge deal, because part of the appeal of Cedar Key is that it is not (and likely never will be due to ordinances) super developed. However, the conveniences of being close to a full-size grocery store, Target or Wal-Mart, or more importantly hospital or health center are undeniable. And we did miss those more than a few times in our month here.
Overall, Cedar Key is a slow-paced fishing town with beautiful views, unique people, great shellfish and live music, and a lot of character. We will definitely be back, although maybe not for another month - we’d rather not deal with another pad paw cut on an oyster shell (and I’m sure Baiden feels the same way)!