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Cedar Key - Daytrips!

Once you've had a chance to unwind for a few days, you may discover that you need to "go somewhere!" or on a "Daycation". Cedar Key is in the heart of Florida's Nature Coast and that offers great advantages - there are plenty of other nature-oriented destinations nearby. Whether your taste is bird-watching, manatee viewing, snorkeling, saltwater or freshwater fishing, or paddling the backwaters, Florida's Nature Coast will provide you with plenty of options!

We've put together a list of some of the area's best day trips. Some destinations don't require a full day and we've tried to note what's close to what to help with your planning.

Florida's Nature Coast: Birding & Wildlife Viewing

FRIENDS of Lower Suwannee
The Friends of the Lower Suwannee and Cedar Keys National Wildlife Refuges provide advocacy and physical support for the refuges. They also offer a calendar with some local events posted.
Manatee Springs State Park
Recommended! Manatee Springs is a 1/2 hour drive north and east of Cedar Key. Situated on the Suwannee River, the park is a terrific day trip. There's an excellent boardwalk through a cypress swamp out to the Suwannee where the dock offers excellent views of the river and often manatees swimming. Along the banks of the river are trees that are home to the largest collection of vultures we've ever seen. These birds are fascinating to watch. Canoe rentals available, diving in the incredibly blue springs is a favorite for scuba divers. The park also has walking trails, a children's play area, and a swimming beach. This is a terrific trip!
Chassahowitzka National Wildlife Refuge
Recommended! Chassahowitzka National Wildlife Refuge is located in Crystal River, FL - about an hour's drive south of Cedar Key off of US 19. Famous for its manatee population, this refuge is an excellent daytrips from Cedar Key - bring your binoculars and plan to rent a boat or sign up for a tour. There are no walking trails at the refuge, but there is a small visitor center with plenty of information about where you can connect with a commercial enterprise for touring. The refuge is primarily accessible only by water. While in Crystal River, you may want to stop at a local grocery (there's a Winn-Dixie on Hwy 19) or package store (ABC Liquors on Hwy 19). There are also movie theatres in Crystal River - for those in need of a civilization fix! Be sure to check out Homosassa Springs, about 10 miles further south on Hwy. 19.
Learn more about this area at: Friends of the Chassahowitzka National Wildlife Refuge website.
Here is a commercial diving and manatee boat tours: Birds Underwater website.
Homosassa Springs State Park
Homosassa Springs State Park is located in Homosassa Springs, FL - about an hour and fifteen minutes south of Cedar Key off of US 19. Programs are offered daily on West Indian Manatees, alligators, crocodiles, Florida snakes and other wildlife. The park offers nature trails, boat tours, and educational programs.
Commercial park for Homosassa Springs: Homosassa Wildlife Park website.
Florida State Forests
There are a number of state forests in the area that are excellent sources for quiet nature trails for inland birding and wildlife observation. This website provides a map of the different regions and links to information about each. Parks within "daytrips distance" are in sections 5, 8, and 11. Forests to check out (that have information online) include:
Paynes Prairie Preserve
Paynes Prairie offers some of the best seasonal wildlife and plant viewing in Florida, while protecting a very dynamic part of natural Florida. This 21,000-acre preserve is among the most significant natural and historic areas in Florida. In 1774, noted artist and naturalist, William Bartram wrote a detailed description of this area. He called it the "great Alachua Savannah." Within this national natural landmark, twenty distinct biological communities such as wet prairie, pine flatwoods, hammocks, and ponds; provide a rich array of habitats for animal life. Located in Micanopy, a few miles south of Gainesville, this makes an excellent daytrips.

Florida's Culture and Heritage

Crones' Cradle Conserve
Are you looking for something really different? Check out Crones' Cradle Conserve, a Fenimist Retreat, organic farm, and ecological preserve. There's something for everyone between heritage crafts and the folklore workshops along with a country store full of fresh picked produce and home-canned items. Don't miss this!
Florida Crackers Chapter
Ready for some hiking? These folks know their trails - drop them an email for more information!
Kanapaha Botanical Gardens
Recommended! Kanapaha is a must-see for those who love horticulture. Located in Gainesville, Kanapaha Botanical Gardens is a 62 acre facility developed and operated by the North Florida Botanical Society, a non-profit educational organization. From the Butterfly Garden to the Bamboo Garden, it's a delight for the senses at any time of year. And bird life abounds - bring your binoculars!
Gainesville Recreation and Parks Department
There are a number of parks and recreation areas in Gainesville. Visit the Parks Department for more information.

Amusements, Shopping

City of Gainesville, Florida
Gainesville is about 1 hour northeast of Cedar Key and is a terrific city to visit. Gainesville is home to the University of Florida and the football team, the Florida Gators. Much of Cedar Key's tourism comes from residents and visitors to Gainesville. Talk to any checker in a grocery store and they'll tell you how Cedar Key has "the best fishing" in Florida. There are a number of things to do in Gainesville - here's just a few.
Antiquing in High Springs, Florida
High Springs is a quaint community about 1.5 hours northeast of Cedar Key. Voted as the "Best Antiquing Town" in 1997, it's a fun side trip for those looking for another view of Old Florida.
Silver Springs
Glass-bottomed boats, nature park, jungle tours, and a white water park located about a 2 hour drive from Cedar Key.
Wild Waters Park in Ocala, Florida White water park connected with Silver Springs Park.
Dakotah Winery - Chiefland, FL
Located about 30 minutes from Cedar Key, Dakotah Winery is a 12-acre site with over 6,000 grape vines. A large, comfortable wine-tasting room welcomes visitors. A temperature-controlled wine cellar is the most recent addition. A visit to Dakotah provides not only an opportunity to buy Florida wine but an opportunity for self-guided innovational wellness walks through the grounds while viewing the grapes, sheep, geese, wood ducks, koi fish, and other species. Your observations will reveal that the winery is a therapy leader for both the heart and the mind and a conservation leader for both the soil and the spirit.

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