My Favorite Laid Back Florida Islands

There are 4,510 islands over ten acres in the State of Florida.  Some of them are famous for their social life (Miami Beach, Daytona). Others for best for adults (Key West), for collegians (Penama City Beach) or for families (Clearwater Beach).  There are even some that are the hideaways of the very rich (Fisher Island, Jupiter Island).

I prefer islands that are laid-back and full of outdoor activities, but they don’t have to be non-luxurious.  There are four places every regular visitor to Florida should experience:

St. George Island  off  Franklin County in the Panhandle is less isolated now that it has a four-mile bridge from the mainland and an expensive gated resort community.  Still most of the island is St. George State Park and the old village with its funky restaurants, bars, and shops.

floridatravelerSTGEORGELIGHTHOUSE

A Lighthouse in the middle of town.

You have a choice of renting a cottage or staying at two very different places: the St. George Inn with its rustic charm or the 98 room Buccaneer Inn built right on the main beach.

floridatravelerSTGEORGEINN

The St. George Inn

Cedar Key on the Gulf west of Gainesville was a booming lumber port until 1900, but shrunk into a fishing and clamming village with historic charms.  Today, tourism is competing with fishing, boating, sailing out to the cluster of island beaches, and hunting.

floridatraveler CEDARKEY

The islands around Cedar Key have beaches.

I wouldn’t stay anyplace but the 1839 Island Inn with its ten Victorian rooms, its breakfast bar, and its old restaurant.    The local museum shows how important Cedar Key once was as the largest port between Mobile and Key West.

floridatraveler DOCKSIDE CEDARKEY

Dockside Cedar Key Is Home To Restaurants and Bars

Cabbage Key is a small 100-acre island in Pine Island Sound, not far from Sanibel.  Unlike its fancy neighbor islands, Cabbage Key has no automobiles or paved roads, just boats and a few seaplanes.

floridatraveler CABBAGEKEYDOCKS

Everyone will know of your arrival at Cabbage Key

There is just one place to stay at Cabbage Key, the Cabbage Key Inn and Restaurantthe 1930s home of mystery writer Mary Roberts Rinehart.  There are eight cottages to rent as well as boats, kayaks, canoes, and more.  Everyone puts a signed autograph one dollar bill on the ceiling or wall.  You’ll join Presidents, movie stars, sports celebrities, and even Jimmy Buffett who sought shelter from Margaritaville to come here.

floridatraveler CABBAGKEYFOOD

Money Hangs From The Ceiling At The Restaurant

For those of you who want Bora Bora rustic, there is Little Palm Islanda six-acre paradise off Little Torch Key in the Florida Keys.  There are no cars, no phones, no TVs. You won’t miss them.

floridatravelerLITTLEPALMISLAND

Little Palm Island Has A Polynesian Feel

This is a complete upscale resort where visitors must come by boat or seaplane.  Fifteen thatched roof bungalows are divided into thirty suites.  The service and food will match the scenery.

floridatraveler LITTLEPALM

In the evening, have a drink in the outdoor lounge.

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About floridatraveler

Historian and travel writer M. C. Bob Leonard makes the Sunshine State his home base. Besides serving as content editor for several textbook publishers and as college professor, he moderates the FHIC at www.floridahistory.org
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