Monday, May 6, 2013

Cedar Key

This really isn't hiking related but yesterday, Auz and I went to Cedar Key, FL.  I had been wanting to go here for awhile and when I found out how close it was to Gainesville, I insisted!  It is an old town by Florida standards.  It dates back to the mid 1800s when it had an important role as an army base, port, shipping base, and pencil factory supplier.  Cedar Key used to be located on nearby Atsena Otie Key, which was harvested for its "cedar" slats (likely it was juniper) to send to northern pencil factories.  Unfortunately, when Henry Plant built his railroad to Tampa they lost their importance as a shipping port and all their business, causing a decline in the area.  In September of 1846, a hurricane destroyed Cedar/Atsena Otie Key and it became abandoned.  After the hurricane, the remaining residents moved to modern day Cedar Key to rebuild their town.  Only one building remained standing on Atsena Otie, and it was later moved to Cedar Key.

We started our day in Cedar Key at their Historical Society where we learned a lot about the history of the islands and were able to view some very neat historical artifacts.  We then walked around the town and checked out the shops and art galleries until we were ready for lunch.  We randomly chose Seabreeze Restaurant based on their menu and were not disappointed.  We each had a beer and a Cedar Key salad which is lettuce, peaches, tropical fruit, candied pecans, and a scoop of pistachio ice cream!  It sounds like a crazy concoction that a pregnant lady would eat but it is surprisingly good!

Artifacts at museum

After lunch, we paid a guy to take us on a boat to Atsena Otie Key to explore the ruins on the former town.  There is a main dock on the island and a trail that goes through the middle of it.  We checked out the cemetery, building remains, and the beautiful beach before calling for our return boat ride.  On the way back, the man brought his two young daughters.  We ended up seeing some dolphins near the boat and followed them for 30 minutes.  They were swimming so close to the boat you could almost reach out and touch them!

We ended our trip at Low Key Hideaway which is a hotel and tiki bar on the beach that was recommended by some locals.  We drank some tequila and enjoyed the sunset before heading back to Gainesville (warning: they only accept cash!).  We had a fantastic day in Cedar Key and definitely want to return and stay at one of the cabanas at Low Key Hideaway!

Funny stools at the bar

Relaxing by the water

View from Low Key Hideaway

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