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

Rush hour in Cedar Key, FL
Rush hour in Cedar Key, Florida
| Credit: Michael Hanson

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).