The Perfect Beach Town: Cedar Key, FL

Photo: Michael Hanson
Take a kayak tour, fill up on from-scratch shrimp and grits, and dig for clams in this quiet town full of charm.

The Vibe 
On Florida's natural and pristine "Big Bend," life in Cedar Key shuffles along quietly, with a quirky bent. The 1-square-mile historic downtown district sits on the smallest of 40-odd scrappy, little islands shoved around by hurricanes for centuries, which might explain the ramshackle charm of their only town.

What to Do 
The wrap-around balconies of The Island Hotel & Restaurant (352/543-5111) have been packed during past July 4th Clamerica Parades, when tourists flock to the clam capital with buckets and rolled-up pants. Take a kayak tour with Wild Florida Adventures (352/226-2251) to nearby Atsena Otie Key for a little history.

Where to Eat 
The Island Hotel's restaurant serves from-scratch shrimp and grits with bacon gravy and Key lime pie that'd make Hemingway weep. Order the steamed clams at Seabreeze on the Dock (352/543-5738).

Where to Stay 
Lodging is limited, but Island Hotel's tabby walls and rustic authenticity make it a relic of "Old Florida" (from $90).

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