Last updated on April 21, 2024 by Stefano Ferro, founder of MEL365, following extensive travelling in Florida, Keys & Miami

Best places to stay in Cedar Key, Florida – TOP AREAS & HOTELS

Having a vacation in Cedar Key is like stepping back in time and experiencing the old Florida.

This is one of the most secluded places in the state and possibly the USA, a little gem still to fully discover.

Let me try to answer your question in short. The best place to stay in Cedar Key is in the city centre or around it.

Best areas to stay in Cedar Key
Best areas to stay in Cedar Key

There are, however, other areas that may work better for you, in case you prefer a more isolated area or you are traveling on a budget.

Here below, a breakdown of the 3 best areas with pros and cons of each choice.

And if you are after a beachfront place, don’t worry, I have listed below 3 great options

Without further ado, let’s have a start

Best places to stay in Cedar Key Florida
Best places to stay in Cedar Key Florida

By the way, did you know that Cedar Key took its name from the vast amount of cedar trees that once populated the island, used in the 19th century to make pencils?

City center – The best place to stay in Cedar Key overall

City center - The best place to stay in Cedar Key overall
City center – The best place to stay in Cedar Key overall

The City Center is the best place to stay in Cedar Key because

  • It has the greatest choice of hotel rooms and rental options
  • That is where all the cafes, restaurants and bars are located (but do not think of any nightlife)
  • There is a good old Florida vibe
  • You will find the only beach on the island
  • It is the best area to stay in Cedar Key for a short and long stay exploring the island
  • A great place to stay in Cedar Key for couples looking for a romantic getaway, but still wanting a few bars options around
  • Perfect spot for a family looking for beach and activities

The weakest points:

  • Probably the most expensive area to stay, especially if looking for a beachfront hotel

You may already know how quiet is this island, with a great old Florida vibe.

The Cedar Key city center is the perfect spot for you if you are looking for a relaxing vacation, but still, you would like to have easy access to bars and restaurants for a chilled out night.

Honestly, considering the size and the quiet community, the most appropriate description for this area is surely not city, but small town.

A popular bar to have a few drinks in the close proximity is surely Duncan’s on the Gulf, right over the water, overlooking the Gulf of Mexico.

Grab a stall in the balcony area and order a drink to enjoy the sunset. 

Alternatively, check out Steamers, for its wide selection of beers.

By the way, both pubs/restaurants offer food as well, with seafood being a must choice, of course.

For a more upscale night, have a try at the Island Room Restaurant, famous for its cocktail and fish dishes.

The street layout in this small town is very simple, organized in a grid with streets named from 1st (facing the Gulf of Mexico) to 9th, crossing streets named from A to G (facing the coastline).

There are a few exceptions of which Dock Street is the most famous one, where you will find the bars and restaurants I previously mentioned. That is a great place to be for the evening/night.

From here, you can easily rent a bike or a golf cart to explore the island, or just have a walk around. A five miles walk will cover most of the island streets and boardwalks.

For some action, rent a kayak or a SUP to explore the coast and the Atsena Otie Key (a short distance away), or just seat and relax at the town beach, the only one on the island.

The small town is the best area to stay in Cedar Key for both a short or long stay.

It works great for couples looking for a romantic, but not isolated, getaway.

The families with kids of any age will appreciate the peace around but also the activities that they can organize, including renting a boat for a picnic.

Here below are the 4 best hotels and vacation rentals you can find around the city center

Charming Condo with beach access ($$$)

Gulf views and cozy key accommodation – that’s what you get in this condo.

To make you feel at home in this beachfront property, you get a full kitchen, well equipped with fridge, oven, microwave and dishwasher, cable TV, as well as towels and bed linen.

The private balconies provides you with a neat place to relax, especially with the shade protecting you from the afternoon sun.

There is free WiFi on the property, and its proximity to local attractions makes it an ideal stay to check into.

Check price at Charming Condo

Beachfront Condo with Pool ($$-$$$)

A full kitchen stocked with all the equipment you’ll need to make your own dishes, spacious rooms to lounge in with your family and friends, cable TV for your entertainment, all through to a washing machine to handle all the sand and sweat the clothes pick up when on your beach activities – this condo gives you a homely experience on your Florida tour.

The townhouse gives you great views – especially from the balcony, and there is also a pool for you to take a splash in.

Check price at Beachfront Condo

Beachfront 1BR with Pool Access ($$-$$$)

This retreat is right on the beach, making it a convenient spot for your water and sand activities.

The apartment is spacious and includes cable TV as well as a fully stocked kitchen for you to prepare your favorite dishes while on your stay there.

You get pool access when you check in, and the accommodation also provides free WiFi.

Check price at Beachfront Condo

Beach Front Motel ($-$$)

This key hotel gives you plenty of relaxation options during your stay, whether you simply want to take a dip in the outdoor pool,direct access to the beach, or even go saltwater fishing.

There is a sufficient parking area here. Daily maid service ensures that the property is kept in mint condition, and the reception service that is available all day will have your needs met and queries addressed.

Each room of the Beach Front Motel comes with a coffee machine, refrigerator and microwave, as well as cable TV and free WiFi – with the individual light decor in the rooms adding to the touch of elegance.

Check price at Beach Front

Way Key – The best place to stay for seclusion

Way Key - The best place to stay for seclusion
Way Key – The best place to stay for seclusion

Way Key is the best place to stay in Cedar Key because

  • it is the most secluded place, unplugged from the world.
  • it is the most peaceful area, usually booked by artists and writers
  • great spot for walks, using a boardwalk too, between state parks
  • nature lovers heaven, with the iconic cedar trees, and so much wildlife around, especially migratory birds
  • a short walk to the Cedar Key Museum State Park
  • Way Key is the best place to stay for solitude and remoteness

The weakest points:

  • There are no bars or restaurants around. You need to drive to the small town for that.
  • No hotels in the area, only vacation rentals

Way Key is located west of the City Center and the Florida State Road 24, once you enter the island.

This is a place you want to book your vacation rental if you are looking for seclusion, as there is not much around.

Actually, although you don’t have shops, bars or restaurants, you can visit the local Cedar Key Historical Society Museum to understand more of the roots of the island, its rich history, its importance at the start of the previous century and how significant was the train network arriving up to the island.

For a walk, head to the Cemetery Point Boardwalk, leaving from Gulf Boulevard, great for bird watching (1-2 hours return).

Idle time 2BR ($$$)

Here, you have a private deck to relax in, a private dock where you can fish at, and even a kayak launching spot. Be sure to catch sunsets from the porch.

This spacious waterfront property can house large families or groups of friends. Yes, it is a two-bedroom property, but the availability of sofa beds adds to the sleeping options available.

You can also choose to rent just one level, using either floor- with the ground level featuring a walk-in shower.

Check price at Idle Time

Flounder Inn 3BR ($$$)

Here, you have a quiet residence that’s close to the local sights and sounds, but away from any noise.

Kick back and allow the Gulf breeze to engulf you. Go fishing off the dock.

Launch kayaks into the tide. After your day of activities, settle into the cozy sleeping quarters – but not before you have caught that elegant sunset from the open porch.

While the kitchen is well equipped, the refrigerator is in an adjacent room next to it – a tiny detail that you can get used to.

Check price at Flounder Inn

Island Getaway 3BR ($$)

This cozy house takes you away from the small town area, and you get to enjoy bird watching from the elevated deck – with some like the Roseate Spoonbills flying over every day.

There are even dolphins playing away off the docks.

The kitchen is well stocked with all you’ll need for your stay, and the host here also provides kayaks and bikes to use for your activities.

You can also bring your pets along – but a fee is charged for cleaning up after them.

Check price at Island Getaway

Close to the Marina – The best place to stay in Cedar Key for affordable places

Close to the Marina - The best place to stay in Cedar Key for value for money
Close to the Marina – The best place to stay in Cedar Key for value for money

This is the best place to stay in Cedar Key because

  • the vacation rentals provide a great value for money
  • you are next door to the Marina Yacht Club where you can rent a boat 
  • great spot for fishing and having a walk

The weakest points:

  • You are 1-1.5 miles from city center, you will need a car or a short walk (20-30 minutes)
  • No hotel options in the area, only vacation rentals

To get to the island, you will have to drive through the long Cedar Key Bridge till the end of State Road (you may actually think you are approaching Key West for the environment very similar to the Florida Keys).

By the way, you can read more about the Florida Keys road trips here.

One of the nearby islands of the Cedar Key small village has a few affordable places in a quiet environment.

On this island you will find also the Marina where you can rent a boat for a day out in the water exploring the Cedar Keys National Wildlife Refuge.

Alternatively, you can take a walk in the Railroad Trestle Nature Trail (part of the wildlife refuges), that follows part of the old and dismissed Florida Railroad, the perfect spot for birdwatching.

The only drawback is that you are around 1-1.5 miles from the city centre, the restaurants and the only available beach.

In saying that, you will be much closer to the Tiki Bar, the coolest bars of all, definitely worth visiting, with a beautiful old Florida vibe, the perfect spot for a chilled out cocktail at sunset time.

These three vacation rentals could be just your perfect hideaway for your family vacation

Edgewater House 3BR ($$-$$$)

Watch birds flying above and fish lapping in the waters right from the deck at the private dock. Swing away in the yard.

When the sun blazes high, there is plenty of shade under the house porch – which also protects you when it’s raining.

Inside, the property is spacious, with a big dining room for families to get together. The upstairs deck that overlooks the waterfront is a great spot to catch the sunrise and sunsets.

Check the best price at Edgewater

Cozy Bungalow 2BR ($$)

Grill away at the dock or down your cocktails as you watch the sun set in this waterfront residence. You can launch kayaks from the dock – which the host provides.

Sure, there’s no cable here, but you’ll mostly be enjoying outdoor activities either way – including birdwatching, fishing, or even crabbing.

There’s still a smart flat screen TV though that gets a couple of live channels whose signal can be reached by the antenna, and you can also stream Netflix or Hulu shows since the TV comes with Roku.

Check best price at the Cozy Bungalow

Cedar Cottage 2BR ($$)

Here you have a cozy cottage in a laid back neighborhood – where the interior has been kept neat and clean with all you need for your stay – from the stocked kitchen to entertainment with the large TV.

The screen doors and ceiling fans keep the breeze flowing through the house.

A private deck provides you with a nice spot to sit back and relax as you listen to the chirping birds.

The knotty pine walls and floors give you that Southern vibe. The dining room and the 3 beds in the key accommodation are enough for a family to comfortably have an extended stay here.

Check best price at Island Getaway

Still undecided on your stay in the Florida West Coast?

Check out instead the lovely hotels and rentals of Pensacola Beach

Not to mention Anna Maria Island, a barrier island with wide beaches that will leave you also open mouth

Clearwater is another option, with its wide selection of accommodations.

If you are after a more lively place, then you should check out Panama City Beach, the place to be for the Spring Break

Best beachfront hotels in Cedar Key Florida

I already mentioned the Beach Front Motel as one of the best options to stay in Cedar Key, facing the water of the Gulf of Mexico

Located in the city center, the Beach Front offers hotel rooms at possibly the lowest price on the island.

For more space, or if you are traveling with family and kids, you should check out the two options below

The island Place 1BR ($$$)

The setting: condos on the coast, palm trees all around, and the Gulf breeze flowing in. Condos here make your holiday experience one of relaxation and mental peace.

There’s even a small beach that you can use and a pool to take a splash in during your stay.

Its location puts you conveniently close to the city marina, as well as eateries and shopping options. 

Check price at the Island Place

McCabe’s McParadise 2BR ($$-$$$)

Lounge back with waterfront views in this McParadise by the Gulf.

Each unit comes equipped with the cookware you’ll need to prepare your meals, entertainment units inclusive of TVs with DVD players – and even books for those who want to pass some quiet time churning through chapters.

WiFi is available – though not for heavy usage like streaming Netflix shows, but quite sufficient for light browsing across social media and keeping tabs on your email.

Check price at McCabe

Stefano Ferro - MEL365.com Founder and Editor

About the Author

Stefano is a seasoned travel expert and the visionary founder of MEL365.com, a leading travel website with traffic across 6 continents. With a rich background in the travel industry, Stefano spent four pivotal years at Amadeus Travel Distribution System, gaining invaluable insights into travel technologies and distribution.

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