Although Florida is known for theme parks and as a haven for wild college students on spring break, it also has some small town charm. For example, Cedar Key, a cluster of small islands west of Ocala, rests in the Gulf of Mexico. My husband and I stayed at the Island Place Condos a few years ago during a road trip to New Orleans. Initially, we read about Cedar Key in The Best Romantic Escapes in Florida, vol. II by Pamela Acheson and Richard B. Myers. The romanticism intrigued us, so we decided to make it one of our stops.
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Because Cedar Key is located on a remote island, we needed to get provisions prior to reaching the condo. We stopped at Robinson’s Seafood, located before the causeway entrance. Here we bought fresh grouper and shrimp. Although it was pricey, it was worth it. Then we drove over the causeway to Cedar Key where we stopped at The Market for seasonings and fixings for a salad. You know you are in a small town when the grocery store is just called The Market.
The Island Place, Cedar Key
Once we picked up our groceries we drove to The Island Place which we found with no problems. Unfortunately, when we got there the main office was closed. First I tried calling the number on the sign in the window. Then I tried calling the number I used to make the reservation. In either case, nobody answered. Of course, at this point we started to worry. We began walking around the grounds hoping to find someone.
Eventually we found a man grilling some dinner. We then explained the situation and asked if he knew how to get in touch with someone. Nonchalantly, he responded by asking if we checked the door to our unit, as it was probably unlocked with the key inside. Of course, coming from South Florida this is unheard of. Interestingly, this was the case. There on the table was the key next to a basket of snacks and a note welcoming us. Island life!
After laughing at our ignorance, we opened a bottle of wine which we enjoyed on our porch swing. Next we cooked our seafood and mixed up a salad for dinner. Both which we enjoyed on our back patio. A cat and his friends came to join us for dinner. Mistakenly, we fed them before reading the notice on our refrigerator about NOT feeding the feral cats. Oops!
The Island Hotel
We ended the evening by walking to the Island Hotel. Built between 1859 and 1860, the building survived numerous hurricanes and floods. Eventually, the hotel bar became a popular gathering place during the 1940’s. In 1945 a tenant painted some of the murals in exchange for room and board.
The next morning we collected shells on the beach in back of our condo before continuing our journey. We only stayed one night, but if you stay longer you can go kayaking, paddle boarding. Or you can rent bikes or a golf cart to explore the many art galleries, shops, and seafood restaurants. In addition, rent a boat to visit a nearby island for swimming go fishing, or take a nature cruise.
Donna Emperador is a travel and food blogger and copywriter. Donna believes in learning about different cultures while sharing good food and cocktails. She has lived in South Florida for over 20 years and enjoys spending time exploring the road to find unique places to share with readers. She can be found on Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest.