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Travel Tips

Cedar Key Island Florida Vacation Guide

Bring along your pets to enjoy the beautiful natural surroundings of Cedar Key

If you are looking for a laid back vacation where you can spend plenty of time outdoors hiking, walking and enjoy natural surroundings, the wonderful remote island of Cedar Key is the perfect place to visit. For those who are animal lovers and cannot imagine vacationing with nature without your favorite pets, there is no reason not to bring your furry friends along to Cedar Key.

Cedar Key is a quiet island community, nestled among a string of other keys on the Gulf of Mexico side of Florida, just past the panhandle, about halfway between Tallahassee and Sarasota. The closest large city is Gainesville, which sits inland northeast from Cedar Key approximately 70 miles. For those vacationers looking for a peaceful, serene getaway from the hustle and bustle of busy city life, the small key of only 1000 residents is the perfect place to find tranquility.

For those who know of Cedar Key, it is famous for its seafood and was once one of the major suppliers of seafood, as well as timber, on the East coast. While Cedar Key is still famous for its splendid seafood, holding the October Seafood Festival, it is also famous as a haven for artists and writers who are attracted in swarms to the Old Celebration of the Arts in April. Besides artists and seafood lovers, Cedar Key is a nature lover’s sanctuary with endless natural habitats, Indian shell mounds, bird watching, nature trails, fishing and boating.

Cedar Key is also an animal friendly community in which you will see residents and visitors alike walking through neighborhoods and parks with dogs in tow. This is an excellent destination choice if you plan on getting outside with your animals a great deal while on vacation! There are an abundance of places to walk dogs and even let cats roam throughout Cedar Key, but some must see pet friendly locations include the Cedar Key National Wildlife Refuge, Cedar Key Scrub State Reserve and the Cedar Key Museum State Park.
Lower Suwannee/Cedar Key National Wildlife RefugeThis abundant 53,000 acre wildlife refuge was established in 1979 to protect the Lower Suwannee river-delta system near Cedar Key Island. If you are a nature lover who enjoys watching bald eagles, manatees, deer, wild turkeys and a variety of other wildlife species, this is the place for you.

This is also a wonderful place to take dogs for an afternoon out of the vacation rental home. While pets are welcome in the park, be cautious, as there may be areas you don’t want dogs to go, especially since there are regular sightings of alligators in certain parts of the park. For this reason the park limits dogs to a leash at all times. If necessary you can leave dogs unattended but secured for up to a half an hour, but no longer.

There are plenty of places throughout the park where you can roam with your animals, including canoeing, hunting and several nature trails. You can even bring your dog along as you enjoy an afternoon of fishing or just having a picnic lunch near one of the various boardwalks or observation towers.

To get to Cedar Key National Wildlife Refuge just take US 19 South to 345. From 345 take a right onto 330, then to SR 347 South. From here there will be signs guiding visitors the rest of the way.
Cedar Key Scrub State ReserveRules of the state reserve suggest that pets must remain on a six foot leash throughout the visit, but with such a vast expanse of hiking and biking trails, you could easily let a well-behaved dog off the leash at Cedar Key Scrub State Reserve and you may not see another visitor for miles. Of course the rules still apply and there are rangers who come by on a regular basis to check. Nevertheless there is still plenty of room to let your pooches roam, even while on their leashes, at this beautiful and expansive state reserve.

Cedar Key Scrub Reserve is a great way to spend the afternoon with your pet among the salt marshes right on the Gulf of Mexico strolling through the hardwood and pine forests.

If your dog enjoys the water, this is an excellent opportunity to cool them off from the Florida heat with an afternoon of canoeing or kayaking. Rental canoes and kayaks are available in the city of Cedar Key, although none are available at the park.  If you are just interested in a relaxing afternoon, the park also has picnic shelters, tables, and grills available.

This park is easily accessible from Cedar Key, located on SR 24 about six miles east of Cedar Key.
Cedar Key Museum State ParkThe main attraction of Cedar Key Museum State Park is undoubtedly the St. Clair Whitman House and the museum inside, but this is still an excellent outdoor place, right outside of Cedar Key for a stroll in the park with your pet. Of course pets are allowed to visit the outdoor features of the park if they are on a leash, but are not allowed inside to view the museum.

Since the park is dedicated to the museum, it costs $1 for adults and children over six to get into the park. If you are interested in a stroll through the park with your pooch, there is a wonderful nature trail with opportunities for your dog to become entranced by native squirrels, birds and frogs.

The park is open from dusk until dawn although the museum is only open Thursday through Monday. To reach the state park just take SR 24 into Cedar Key until you come to Museum Drive. 


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