Labyrinths are Mindful Walks in Florida

Labyrinths are Mindful Walks in Florida

Labyrinths. What a nice surprise to find them in Florida.

Egan’s Creek Park, for example, has been transformed with a whole new look and attitude – it even has a labyrinth.

The small park on Atlantic Boulevard in Fernandina Beach underwent a huge facelift– going from a large grassy area next to a creek to an exciting place with walking/jogging trails, exercise equipment, a kayak/SUP dock, a covered picnic area and a sweet labyrinth installed by 8 Flags Playscapes, Inc.

labayrinths -egans creek

The labyrinth is a great addition to the community and it is getting a lot of attention.

Christine Anne Platel, a Veriditas-trained Labyrinth Facilitator, is its champion. She has a Facebook page for the labyrinth and schedules events including labyrinth walks on each new moon and full moon.

“My intention is to extend the opportunity to walk the labyrinth to others who may not know about it, like the Council on Aging and youth groups,” said Platel.

Good intention!

And I have the same goal. Since spring of 2016 I’ve been walking labyrinths all over Florida for my next book entitled Circling the Center: the Labyrinth Trail in Florida, publication date September 1, 2018.

Didn’t know Florida had labyrinths? Neither did I – so here is a labyrinth primer:

Are labyrinths and mazes the same?

No. A labyrinth has one way into the center and one way out. There are no dead ends. You cannot get lost.

Whose idea was it to make a labyrinth?

That answer is lost in the mists of time. Labyrinths, and the unknown reasons for building them, go back 5,000 years. They are found in every culture, including those that have never had contact with another culture.

Labyrinths are based on sacred geometry, the spiral shape is found repeated over and over throughout the universe, like the shape of the Milky Way, a spider web, the rings rippling out from a rock tossed into the water, even your thumbprint is a labyrinth.

Why walk a labyrinth?

Each step can be a prayer, a way to de-stress, an opening of your mind to finding the center of your heart. In medieval times labyrinths were embedded on cathedral floors so pilgrims who couldn’t make the trip to Jerusalem could make a substitute spiritual journey on a labyrinth.

The walk is symbolic of life’s walk, a lovely order to life’s turns and quite in contract to chaos.

Labyrinths are part of Integrated Therapy, recommended for grieving persons, for wellness, and for those who are open to change, the experience can be a transformative. experience.

Where do I find labyrinths in Florida?

Labyrinths are found all the way from Pensacola down to Miami. Start on the Internet with the World Wide Labyrinth Locator, go to the menu bar on the left, choose the locator then plug in Florida. Also visit my Facebook page Labyrinth of the Week

And in the fullness of time, follow the labyrinth trail in my new book.

Are all labyrinths located on church grounds?

The majority of labyrinths in Florida, some sixty percent, are found on church grounds. The second most popular place for labyrinths turns out to be private gardens – you call ahead and make an appointment. Labyrinths are also found at retreat centers, Hospice facilities, universities (Florida State University in Tallahassee is building one on campus right now), spas, hospitals, county parks, art museums (three art museums in Florida have labyrinths) and more.

labyrinths - weelness spa in high springs

Not all labyrinths are permanent. Some are made on beaches to be washed away with the tide. Others are painted on canvas to be unrolled for events. Or, at the Wellness Spa in High Springs, you can call Suzie Ann Clark (386-454-8889) to make an appointment. Upon arrival she will take you to the yoga room and unroll the five-circuit canvas labyrinth beautifully painted by the St. Louis Labyrinth Project.

Do all labyrinths look alike?

Not at all, every labyrinth is different. The materials used to make them vary, so does the size and shape.

Many are the classical spiral shape copied after the 11-circuit labyrinth on the floor of Chartres Cathedral in France. Some are contemporary like the one at Dali Museum in St. Petersburg

At Unity of Venice church there is a garden labyrinth where the path outline area holds plants, garden statues, stones people have brought here from their travels. It is a living, changing labyrinth.

llabyrinths at Unity of Venice

Ready to get started and walk a labyrinth? Good, enjoy, take it one step at a time.

 

SURVEY UPDATE

Thank you to those who answered our survey last month. Unfortunately Irma came along right after Saturday Morning Magazine was published, and everyone was distracted, including us, so we are doing the survey again. Here it is:

Because of your interest in travel, the environment and yet to be discovered adventures, you are invited to be part of a brief survey about Saturday Morning Magazine (SMM):

  1. What SMM topics are your favorites?
  2. Would you read SMM twice a month?
  3. What subjects would you like to see more of in SMM?

Send your answers to:

[email protected]

Thanks!

 

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A Taste of Cuba in Historic Ybor City

A Taste of Cuba in Historic Ybor City

“History is a fragile thing,” says Max Herman, our guide with Ybor City Historic Walking Tours – a family-owned business started by his dad Lonnie Herman.

Take Ybor City as an example – a place that came to be because a rich young Spaniard chose to immigrate to Cuba and years later a hurricane prevented a plane from leaving Key West.

Centro Ybor in  historic Ybor City

About that hurricane – Don Vicente Martinez Ybor (1818-1896) was all set to board a plane to Galveston, Texas. His plan – build a cigar factory there. His cigar factory in Cuba had been successful until he sided with those who wanted a free Cuba. The Spanish told him to leave and not come back.

Next Key West seemed perfect for cigar making but workers kept missing home and skipping back to Cuba just 90 miles away.

A friend showed up at the Key West airport. He too couldn’t leave – the weather prevented that – but advised Martinez Ybor to put Texas on hold until he visited Tampa, Florida where the friend had just been. Tampa had a railroad, a port and fresh water, all ingredients for a successful cigar factory.

So a chance meeting, a delayed flight and history changes. Fragile indeed.

Historic Ybor City became the Cigar Capital of the World

In 1880 Martinez Ybor bought 40 acres of Tampa swampland, filled it in and invited competitors to build their factories alongside his. He solved the labor absentee problem by building casitas, little shotgun houses.

A casita cost $700 to build. He charged workers $700 to buy one – by taking $1.25 per week out of their pay check. Families moved in. They stayed. Italians, Cubans, Germans, Irish, immigrants from many countries arrived, worked and lived side by side.

The highest paid person in a cigar factory was the Lector – every worker contributed money from their paycheck so the Lector would read out loud – newspapers in the morning, in English, Spanish and Italian, then novels a chapter or two in the afternoon. If you wanted to know what happened next, show up for work the next day.

Martinez Ybor’s cigar factory, now owned by the Church of Scientology, has a courtyard where cigar workers once ate lunch. School for children let out at noon then they’d come to the courtyard, play while their parents worked inside the factory and listen to the Lector through the open windows.

We sat in the courtyard and marveled at how different times were then.

Martinez Ybor’s “bad” business decisions like inviting competitors to build with great loan terms, selling houses at cost – paid off big time.

Historic Ybor City casita

He didn’t live to see it but in 1927 Ybor City was named the Cigar Capital of the World.

Then the 1929 crash happened. After that cigarettes, newly available in packages, took the puff out of cigars. In a frenzy of urban renewal in the 1960s and 1970s many casitas and neighborhoods in Ybor City were bulldozed.

Still the social clubs like the Italian Club, the Cuban Club survived while some cigar factory buildings were recycled to become corporate offices and breweries.

The New Orleans architectural flavor on 7th Avenue lives on and is complemented by the contemporary Centro Ybor shopping center packed with lively dining, theaters and shopping.

Another survivor from the city’s early days – chickens. Seriously. We saw and heard roosters, hens and babies. They are protected. You can’t even pick up their eggs.

Ybor City is designated as a National Historic Landmark District

Ten blocks of Ybor City are designated as a National Historic Landmark District. Our walking tour, 90 minutes at an easy pace, does a big circle of this district. Cost: $20 for Adults $10 for Children 6-12 FREE for Children 5 & under. Payment is in cash. Reservations are required – To make a reservation call 813-505-6779. You receive a text or e-mail confirmation.

Cuban Club in Historic Ybor City

Max’ narrative is fun and informative and he knows every shady spot to stand – perfect on a hot summer day.

We stopped at the only three remaining casitas – on a block that also houses the Ybor City Museum State Park, open Wednesday through Sunday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is $4 for an adult. Tours of the one casita owned by the park take place on the hour from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday.

The museum itself used to house the Ferlita Bakery, famous for its Cuban bread. Max shows us a nail next to the front door of the museum’s casita. Every casita had a similar nail by the front door. Early in the morning runners from the bakery would run up the steps, slap a big loaf of Cuban bread on the nail, and run to the next house to do the same slap.

Slapping bread on nails may be gone but Cuban bread remains hugely popular.

After the tour I visited La Segunda Central Bakery and held open the door for a person carrying a three-foot long loaf of Cuban bread out the door under their arm. And while I waited for my Cuban sandwich to go, more loaves of Cuban bread walked out the door under arms.

Historic Ybor City foodie alert

No Ybor City foodie alert is complete without mentioning the original Columbia restaurant that opened its doors in 1910. The same family, five generations, runs the entire operation of five restaurants around the state.

Come to the Columbia in Ybor City for the food, stay for the Flamingo dancing. Call 813-248-4961 for flamenco show reservations.

Jose Marti park in Historic Ybor City

The most surprising “factoid” of our 90-minute tour was learning that a piece of land, a former family home, belongs to Cuba. The family willed it to Cuba. It is Cuba soil and has been since 1956. This site was the home where Cuban national hero Jose Marti stayed. Due to decay the home was removed but a mini-park exists here.

A piece of Cuba in Historic Ybor City

So, think about this – you can visit Cuba without leaving the United States. The little park has a Marti statue and trees with plaques from each Cuban province. Max told us the soil used for each tree comes from that particular Cuban province.

And back to that young Spaniard who immigrated to Cuba. Who was that? It was Vicente Martinez Ybor who came from a rich Spanish family. At the age of 14 he traveled alone to Cuba. Sounds really daring, until we learned from Max that Spain had mandatory military service. Rich families sent their male children to faraway places.

Martinez Ybor did well in Cuba, learned cigar making, started his own factory and the rest, as they say, is history.

Max is right. History is fragile. A turn here, a weather event there and history changes.

Visit Ybor City. Take the Historic Ybor City Walking Tour. Step back in time while enjoying the present.

UPCOMING EVENT

What are you doing Tuesday, July 11?

Mark your calendar. At 11 a.m. come meet with award-winning author Lucy Tobias at Bookstore1’s new location at 12 South Palm Avenue, Sarasota. If you haven’t been here yet, it is well worth a visit, beautiful building and great selection of books, magazines, cards, and writing materials. Lucy will be signing her award-winning books and doing a book reading – oh, and hugs are free. You can RSVP here

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Sunken Gardens Grows Lush and Exotic

Sunken Gardens Grows Lush and Exotic

Two words perfectly describe Sunken Gardens in St. Petersburg  – lush and exotic.

What, you say, is it still there? Oh yes, Sunken Gardens, an old Florida family roadside attraction, is still alive and thriving right in the middle of a traffic jammed city.

Who knew a sinkhole could be so beautiful?

Ever so long ago, George Turner Sr. did. He was a hybrid kind of guy, a plumber who was also an avid gardener. Think about that. Perhaps only this unique combination of talents let him have visions where everyone else saw a piece of property with a shallow lake that had filled an ancient sinkhole.

Sunken Gardens has waterscapes and exotic plants

In 1903 he bought that four-acre property and drained the sinkhole exposing super rich soil. Just what every gardener wants – super rich soil. Turner knew this soil was perfect for growing exotic plants and fruits from all over the world. So the entire sinkhole became his dream canvas.

And the plumber side of Turner got to go wild. Turner build waterscapes everywhere – ponds, waterfalls, meandering water connections. They are still here today, recycling the water. I would have loved to know this man in person – such a dreamer and doer.

Sunken Gardens

By 1935 the doors opened to Turner’s Sunken Gardens. People paid .25 cents to see all the exotic plants, papayas, citrus, Royal palms and bougainvilleas.

In 1967 the World’s Largest Gift Shop opened. That building, now restored, is the entrance to Sunken Gardens. In 1998 Sunken Gardens was designated a local historic landmark. Purchased by the City of St. Petersburg in 1999, city staff does a super job of keeping Sunken Gardens lush and tropical, promoting Sunken Gardens as a wedding venue and hosting events here.

If a place is truly tropical then exotic birds can’t be far away. Parrots in cages drawn bird enthusiasts but the showstopper has to be their flock of Chilean flamingos. Exotic indeed.

New to Sunken Gardens – a flock of Chilean flamingos

The Flamingos Forever Committee raised the money to bring these beauties here. Not your bright pink flamingo, these birds are delicate shades of orange. Get our your cameras. Run the video.

When I arrived the flamingos were waiting to be fed, all on full alert with heads held high. Coming back a half hour later most had their heads tucked under their wings, mealtime over.

Sunken Gardens flamingos

A few observations:

Hardly need a hat here. The walkways are crowded on both sides with tall vegetation casting shadows across the pavement.

Consider bringing a small hand towel. It does get humid down in the sinkhole (the low point is 15 feet below street level). Sunken Gardens is, after all, tropical to the 10th degree.

Flowers in bloom – all ready for their close ups. No makeup needed.

Get the brochure. Carry it with you. It includes a map of the walkways with numbered stations and their names. Can’t get lost, it is a meandering circle walk.

Sunken Gardens flower

I wasn’t going to sit on the Growing Stone (perhaps a relative of the Blarney Stone?), a fossilized limestone found in the center of the sinkhole. Not until I read that legend has it that if you sit on the Growing Stone you will be granted tranquility, inner harmony and the talent to make things grow.

Make things grow? That did it. My buns found that stone and stayed sitting there for a good fine minutes.

Can’t hurt, might help.

The sign also noted that the Growing Stone is always on the Sunken Gardens first day tour for new employees. It is a tradition.

Sunken Gardens is tropical to the 10th degree

On an upper level I found an extensive butterfly garden. A sign said this would be the site of a future Children’s Garden. Sitting on an alcove bench I watched butterflies visiting red and white Pentas, milkweed, pipe vine and plumbago. A pleasant place designed for some Zen moments.

Behind a low wall past the Butterfly Garden lies a small desert area with three boxes, homes for tortoises. The day I visited no tortoises made an appearance. But there is a low step on the other side of the wall for children to look over, so I’m assuming there are times when the turtles appear.

What you need to know

Sunken Gardens, 1825 4th Street North, St. Petersburg, FL 33704. Phone: 727-551-3102.

Web site: http://www.sunkengardens.org

Admission: $10 adults, $8 seniors (age 62 and up), $4 children (ages 2-11)

Hours: Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Sunday noon to 4:30 p.m.

Parking: Free.

 

Upcoming Events

Lucy with books

Lucy Tobias

Signing at Bookstore1 Sarasota, 12 South Palm Avenue, Sarasota, FL phone 941-365-7900

Tuesday, July 11th, 2017, at 11:00 am

Bookstore1Sarasota

Click here to RSVP

 

SUMMERTIME/LOCALTIME. Come to the bookstore to meet the author of three books: 50 Great Walks in Florida, Florida Gone Wild(er) and Mar Margaret Manatee: the adventures of a young Florida manatee (in English and Spanish).

Lucy Beebe Tobias is an award-winning author, photojournalist and illustrator creating lively and engaging books on environment, exploration and ecology. Her writing is family focused, senior welcoming and always eco-friendly. Tobias is a former newspaper reporter and photographer for the New York Times Regional Group. She served as Authentic Florida Expert for Visit Florida with blogs, stories and videos. She lives in Sarasota and if you see a tall woman walking a Welsh Corgi it is probably Lucy.

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Emerson Point Preserve & Waterfront Doings in Palmetto

Emerson Point Preserve & Waterfront Doings in Palmetto

All that walking at Emerson Point Preserve worked up an appetite for lunch and I found myself at the Riverside Café, watching cloud shows and devouring the Dieters Delight.

“How do you like it?” the waitress asked. This is my first visit to the Riverside Café in Palmetto, a breakfast, lunch and dinner place with a distinct Greek flavor.

I’d done my homework, passed on the daily specials and went with the Dieters Delight. Yes, I know the name is not inspiring, grim actually, but it got good online reviews. My plate overflows with a superbly grilled, pounded chicken breast partnered with Greek salad and pita bread. What diet?

Palmetto - dieters delight at Riverside Cafe

“Really good,” I mumbled around a bite. Nodding, she turned away with a knowing smile, the one that translates: “Yep, that’s why it says House Favorite on the menu.”

The restaurant, on dry land overlooking the river, is part of the upscale Regatta Point Marina, where slips are crowded with liveaboards, large boats and day charters. At the end of the main marina dock sits the multi-story Riverhouse Reef & Grill open for lunch and dinner.

While I sit outside at a table on the Riverside Cafe covered patio, overlooking both the marina and the Manatee River, I look up to see blue sky with a slow show of large white clouds moving east to west. Across the mile-wide river sits the brassy city of Bradenton known for its “come see Snooty and visit our beaches” promotions.

But here in Palmetto, off the main artery roads, life is a lot more laid back. No beaches to push. No planetariums to fill. But there is a Manatee Agricultural Museum inside Palmetto Historic Park on Tenth Avenue West.

And a historic district along the Palmetto waterfront is easy to overlook if not for the small brown and white heritage signs. There are entire blocks of elegant old homes sometimes sitting alongside modern condos.

Bicycle riders can cruise Riverside Drive and see the sights without fear of fast traffic.

A local told me: “Palmetto is beautiful and quiet.”

That works.

Palmetto is both beautiful and quiet

The Palmetto Riverside Bed & Breakfast, owned by Wim and Mieke Lippens, natives of Belgium, is one of the homes on the National Register of Historic Places. The rambling home faces the water, naturally, and was built in 1913 from a Sears kit.

Palmetto Riverside B&B

In the seven years they’ve been innkeepers the B&B has gained a robust reputation as a prime wedding venue. It is easy to imagine a wedding party on the front lawn with a setting sun over the water as a backdrop.

Walk with the ancients at Emerson Point Preserve

On the quiet side, take a walk in the footsteps of the ancients at Emerson Point Preserve. Located at the west end of Snead Island, less than 10 minutes from Riverside Drive, the 270-acre preserve is state-owned and county-managed. There is no entrance fee.

Open from 7 a.m. to sunset (adjusted seasonally), signs everywhere remind visitors to take the closing hour seriously, as the gates are locked after sunset.

Standing under ancient oak trees draped with Spanish moss, I feel the suggestion of cooling breezes, tiny tendrils of air seductively suggesting the season is changing. It is September, summer is retreating and fall will find its way here soon.

That is good news as an Emerson Point Preserve park sign lists so many things to do – hiking bicycling, fishing, canoeing, kayaking, wildlife viewing and picnicking. Oh, and your dog can come as long as it stays on lead and you clean up. All of this is more fun in cooler weather.

The Portavant Temple Mound has a ramp up one side and down the other. Indians living here between 800 and 1500 AD threw their trash, including lots of shells, in one place. A shell midden began to rise. They added dirt and built a large center temple mound.

Palmetto -Emerson Point Preserve indian mound

Houses of the most powerful people sat on the top of the mound. Curiously, every few years they burned everything down then built the mound back up again.

It drives archaeologists around the bend to say this but truthfully nobody really knows how these temple mounds were used. It was, after all, before cell phones, selfies and video recordings of what actually happened.

You and I, walking the mounds, become part of the mystery and the heritage at this place where the Manatee River, Terra Ceia Bay and Tampa Bay join together.

Speaking of mobile phones, Emerson Point Preserve has a mobile phone audio tour for prehistoric life. Dial 941-926-6813 enter 25 and pick a subject.

Or do what I did and just wander paths under the old gumbo limbo trees, the century-old oaks (what stories they could tell!), past stranger figs and wild coffee plants.

Naturally, all that walking led to lunch.

My waitress came and took away my iced tea glass for a refill, without me asking.

Oh, yes, my kind of place.

I’ll be back.

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Old Cedar Key Walking Tour and More Adventures

Old Cedar Key Walking Tour and More Adventures

The Old Cedar Key walking tour is on my list of things to do but first we need to check in.

At the Faraway Inn their Office sign is turned to Open. Obi and I step inside.

Old Cedar Key Walking Tour - Obi and mosaics
Obi checks out the mosaic wall on 2nd Street in Cedar Key, Florida. Photo by Lucy Beebe Tobias

The manager looks up. She immediately nails my dog’s number.

“Oh, a Welsh Corgi!

What’s your name?

Obi?

Would you like a cookie?”

Would he ever. She gives him three. They bond on the spot.

Forget chocolates on the pillow.

Dog treats rule here.

Both Faraway Inn’s architecture and ambiance are throwbacks to the 1950s. Located along the waterfront, the Inn consists of a cluster of small cottages and motel rooms decorated in eclectic beach whimsy and they are dog friendly.

Every guest we meet has a dog or two and everyone walks their dogs. There is even a doggie bag station at Faraway Inn for those who forget to bring the necessities.

Old Cedar Key walking tour - Faraway Inn
Faraway Inn in Cedar Key is pet friendly. Photo by Lucy Beebe Tobias

In Cedar Key traffic is so scarce you and your dog could walk in the middle of the street (just saying, not suggesting).

We find early morning and evening strolls are the best. Midday tends to be quite hot, the air still and streets lacking in shade.

Even though sidewalks are scarce Cedar Key is eminently suited for walking. How does such a rare thing – a high walkability index – happen?

Simple. Cedar Key, Florida, sits at the end of a road.

Where State Road 24 ends, Cedar Key begins – a series of inhabited islands butting up against the mangrove- encrusted edges of the Gulf of Mexico.

Traffic that comes here stops here.

If you arrive for a day visit, park, walk along 2nd Street to see the art galleries, shops and studios, then turn down to Dock Street with its restaurants, you will come away with the impression Cedar Key is flat.

Not so. Stay longer. Venture further inland.

Obi and I discover walking around Old Cedar Key (upland from the dock area) involves a series of gently rolling hills. It is intriguing and inviting – what is over the next rise?

An extra added attraction – we stroll past a plethora of historic houses.

Old Cedar Key Walking Tour – get the guide book

If houses with a history tweak your interest, do obtain a copy of the Old Cedar Key Walking Tour Guide Book ($7.50), with 50 places of interest. Each has a photo and explaining paragraphs. The guidebook is for sale at the Cedar Key Historical Society Museum located at 609 Second Street.

Old Cedar Key Walking tour - Historical Society Museum
Cedar Key Historical Society Museum. Photo by Lucy Beebe Tobias

While there pick up a free map of Cedar Key compliments of Kayak Cedar Keys (by the way Kayak Cedar Keys are celebrating their ten-year anniversary and have added paddleboards to their lineup).

The Cedar Key Historical Society Museum is the two-story white building with all the flags, directly across the street from Tony’s Seafood Restaurant, famous for its award-winning clam chowder.

Our last visit to Cedar Key was five years ago. Walking around town, the uptick in home and landscape improvement is immediately obvious. Side yards boast well-maintained flower and vegetable gardens. Old houses have new paint.

Speaking of vegetables – on 2nd Street there we find a Community Garden dedicated in 2012, Raised boxes overflow with vegetables, herbs, flowers and tomatoes. It is a lovely sight. Surprising isn’t it, how well vegetables grow in salt-tinged air?

Old Cedar Key Walking Tour - community garden
A piece of the community garden, Cedar Key, Florida. Photo by Lucy Beebe Tobias

From talk of vegetables we move to talk of dining out and here we are disappointed.

Dock Street, home to restaurants, cafes, bars and grilles is quite run down compared to five years ago.

Several restaurants are closed. Others haven’t seen fresh paint in a while. A second-story eatery that gets good reviews is reachable by a flight of stairs – but first there are empty cardboard boxes and trashcans to navigate on the ground floor. Not appetizing.

The Cedar Key Chamber of Commerce has a free Visitor’s Guide that includes a dining guide. The free Visitor’s Guide is on their Web site and also in paper form at local outlets (like museums).

Those restaurants that are dog friendly (i.e. outside dining) have a paw icon. This is helpful. Obi and I are well taken care of at Big Deck Raw Bar & Grill on Dock Street.

The next morning we have high hopes for a dog-friendly breakfast place on SW State Road 24. Their Web site says they open at 7 a.m. We arrive at 8 a.m., delightfully decadent. But a sign on the door says “New Hours 9-3”. Bummer. Why wasn’t that on the Web site?

We return again at 9:30 a.m. and it is still closed. Humm. There is Island Time and then there is Why Bother Time.

My hopes for a savory southern breakfast (think shrimp and grits – I saw it on the Web site menu) are dashed.

But life is not all about food (Obi might disagree).

Both location and layout favor Cedar Key as a go to place for outdoor adventures. Come prepared.

Bring comfortable shoes and a wide-brim hat. Take the Old Cedar Key Walking Tour (self-guided).

Bring your bike or rent one (Faraway Inn, for example, has free loaners for guests). Bike Florida named the Town of Cedar Key as one of its Top 10 places to ride. It is easy to agree with that – the lack of traffic and lovely changing views make for a smooth ride. Not to mention all the stops along the way including the Cedar Key Museum State Park and Cedar Key City Park with a small public beach and restrooms.

Kayakers (your own or a rental) have easy nearby destinations such as Atsena Otie Key and Seahorse Key. Go on your own or take a tour. A plus – the Market at Cedar Key on SW State Road 24 is a good place to build your lunch that goes with you in a cooler.

Old Cedar Key Walking Tour - sunset
Sunset, Cedar Key, Florida
Photo by Lucy Beebe Tobias

Sunsets over the Gulf of Mexico are a free thrill. They are, of course, weather permitting. Most nights you see them. Some nights the clouds win. Many good viewing places around town including benches facing west, a place to sit, donated in someone’s honor. A very nice touch.

And that is a small sampling of things to do, right up to twilight.

Night falls. The fun begins.

Stargazers from around the world are drawn to Cedar Key. The night sky is easy to see.

It is that “end of the road” thing again – remember the small town’s location at the end of the road then factor in nearby national refuges – Cedar Key National Wildlife Refuge and Lower Suwannee National Wildlife Refuge (think thousands of acres with no artificial lighting) and conditions are right for the night sky to be highly visible. To know more visit this stargazing Web site.

Let’s have a last look at local food – did you know Cedar Key has a reputation as a clam capital? Well earned. Cedar Key is the largest producer of farm-raised clams in Florida. Aquaculture rules here.

On our way out of town I stop at Southern Cross Sea Farms to buy a bag of littleneck clams.

Steamed clams and linguine – it is what’s for dinner tonight along with fresh salad from the garden well seasoned with memories of Cedar Key.

 

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