Natural Attractions

Cedar Key is surrounded by state and federal wildlife refuges.  Enjoy the offshore islands of the National Wildlife Refuge and surrounding waters of the Gulf of Mexico on a guided tour, by rental boat or by kayak. Birding is a favorite activity here in Cedar Key, both for the tourists and the residents! Come enjoy your public lands!  In the meantime, whet your appetite by visiting these links.  Just click on the name!

  • Atsena Otie Island:  Originally known as "Depot Key, the community of Cedar Key was primarily located here until September 29, 1896.  On that day it was struck by a hurricane which included a 10 foot tidal wave.  The town relocated to its present location. 

Atsena Otie Shoreline


Atsena Otie is just offshore of Dock Street.  In the 1990s, a housing development was proposed for the island.  Fortunately, it was instead acquired as public lands by the Suwannee River Water Management District.  The very old cemetery has been faithfully and carefully restored under the leadership of Florida's Nature Coast Conservancy board member Erik Brogren. The project is managed by the US Fish and Wildlife Service of the Lower Suwannee and Cedar Key Refuges. Here visitors will find a pier, interpretive information, composting toilet facility, and a walking trail that leads to a 19th century cemetery. An Indian midden and historic ruins of the Faber Mill are readily visible from the island entrance from the pier.


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  • Cedar Keys National Wildlife Refuge:  The Refuge consists of 13 islands ranging in size from 1 to 120 acres, totaling 762 acres. Included in the refuge are restricted access islands which include seabird rookeries.  Seahorse Key has a lighthouse circa 1850 on the coast's highest elevation.  This lighthouse can only be accessed by the public on the 4th of July, during the Arts Festival in April, and the during the Seafood Festival in October. 

To view a map of the refuge, click here.

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  • Cedar Key Scrub Preserve: Offers hiking, canoeing and kayaking opportunities as well as camping, fresh and salt water fishing, photography and bird watching.  For a map of the trails in the preserve, click here.

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  • Lower Suwannee National Wildlife Refuge:  A 53,000 acre preserve with nature driving and hiking trails for wildlife observation, photography, and access to the Suwannee River.  The Refuge offers recreational and educational activities for everyone. Bird and wildlife observation, wildlife photography, fishing, canoeing, hunting, and interpretive walks are all available. A new Wildlife Drive is under construction and several boardwalks and observation towers offer unique views of Refuge wildlife and habitat.

running deer

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  • Manatee Springs State Park :  A first magnitude spring that offers camping, diving, swimming, canoe rentals, and an elevated boardwalk through the primordial cypress wetland to the Suwannee River. 

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  • Shell Mound Park  A prehistoric Indian Shell Mound initially created by Archaic cultures and completed by Woodland period cultures. The mound is made up of discarded shells of oysters, clams and other food mollusks over a 6,000 year time period.  There are two hiking trails with information kiosks, a fishing pier, areas for camping and picnicking and a boat ramp for smaller watercraft.  This site is great for kayaking and canoeing  along with birding!

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  • Waccassassa Bay Preserve State Park Accessible only by boat, it offers both saltwater and freshwater fishing. Salt marshes and tidal creeks provide habitats for saltwater fish, crabs, and shellfish. The preserve provide habitat and feeding areas for endangered and threatened species-including West Indian manatees, bald eagles, American alligators, and Florida black bears. There aren't any marked foot trails but nature enthusiasts can enjoy viewing wildlife from a canoe.

canoe man

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  • Great Florida Birding Trail A program of the FWC with a network of 489 sites throughout Florida selected for their excellent bird watching or bird education opportunities. This 2000-mile, self-guided highway trail is designed to conserve and enhance Florida's bird habitat by promoting birdwatching activities, conservation education and economic opportunity. Given the natural "amenities" of the Cedar Key region, several of the areas listed above included in the Birding Trail. Check out the West Florida Section to view all the available sites in our area.

    Birders should check out the new Great Florida Birding Trail Trip-planning Tool!
    The FWC has developed a new interactive, trip-planning tool using Googleâ„¢ Maps to help birders find destinations and species of interest along the GFBT. The public can search by amenities (such as handicapped accessibility), habitats and 40 featured bird species to choose which GFBT sites they wish to visit. The trip planner also provides information about each of the featured species.

hummingbird feeding on flowers