Levy County offers scenic beauty, a rich history, abundant recreational opportunities and some of the best seafood on the planet.
From the shores of the Gulf of Mexico inland, with access to the Suwannee, Waccasassa, Wekiva and Withlacoochee rivers, two state parks, a prehistoric underground spring that is a mecca for snorkelers and another spring that draws scuba divers from around the world, Mother Nature reigns supreme in Levy County. That’s why the area is known as the Nature Coast.
But the attractions aren’t all outside. There are numerous opportunities to experience the present and explore the past through museums, cultural activities and festivals, including the renowned Cedar Key and Yankeetown Seafood Festivals.
Some of the notable places of interest include Devil’s Den, an underground spring inside a dry cave. A chimney hole at the top vents steam on cold mornings, which appears as “smoke” and led early settlers to give it its name. The spring was once home to extinct animals dating back to the Pleistocene Age and contains ancient rock formations with stalactites and fossil beds dating back 33 million years. It is a destination for scuba divers and snorkelers from around the world. The nearby Blue Grotto also is a haven for scuba divers of all experience levels.
Adjacent to Devil’s Den is Cedar Lakes and Woods Gardens, a 20-acre botanical garden lovingly created in an old lime rock quarry. Over 30 years, the gardens have evolved to include extensive walkways, waterfalls, pavilions and bridges. Temperate and semitropical plants flourish year-round and a wide variety of wildlife makes a home here. It is a special place to enjoy a family picnic or to simply find a quiet corner for serene introspection.
For those who enjoy boating, Levy County offers fresh and saltwater excursions ranging from air boating along the salt flats of the Gulf Coast to motoring through the dark and mysterious waters of the four inland rivers. From dolphin watching to fish catching, from daybreak on the water to sunset cruises, from kayaks to yachts, there is no end to the ways one can “get on the water” in this amazing place.
History buffs can make a day of visiting attractions such as the Levy County Quilt Museum, where the past unfolds in the astonishing patterns of lovingly crafted quilts and other items. There is also the Cedar Key Historical Society Museum, Chiefland Train Depot, Shell Mound Archaeological Site, Seahorse Key Lighthouse and the historic town of Rosewood.
The island town of Cedar Key can make for a day- or week-long stay for exploring, shopping and dining. Over time, the sleepy fishing village has morphed into a destination for artists, outdoors enthusiasts and epicureans. If you plan accordingly, you can get in on the fun and festivities of the Old Florida Celebration of the Arts on April 1, the 53rd Annual Cedar Key Seafood Festival on October 21 and 22, and the 8th Annual Cedar Key Pirate Invasion on November 3-5.
And speaking of festivals, Levy County is home to several, such as annual events to highlight and celebrate locally grown watermelons and peanuts. There is even the Tour de Melon bicycle touring event that travels through some of the most scenic parts of the county.
Levy County boasts two beautiful state parks, Manatee and Fanning, both situated on the Suwannee River and both offering excellent facilities for swimming and family fun. There are a number of county parks, such as Henry Beck and Bronson Blue Spring, which also offer amenities for picnicking and swimming. Shell Mound Park in Cedar Key, which features a historic archeological mound, has amenities for camping, fishing and boating. The Waccasassa Park and Boat Ramp in Inglis offers bank fishing, picnic tables and docks for boat tie-ups.
And—bonus—the Inglis Yankeetown Lions Foundation puts on the annual Yankeetown Seafood Festival the weekend before Thanksgiving each year, giving you yet another opportunity to feast on some of the best seafood you will ever taste, fresh from local waters.
Levy County is also home to venues for activities such as trail riding on horseback, including the Devil’s Hammock Wildlife Management Area and Goethe State Forest, with the nearby Black Prong Equestrian Village, which hosts a number of public and private events.
Whether you are planning an outing for a day or an extended stay, for a large group or small party, you can discover a lot of beautiful hidden gems along Florida’s lovely Nature Coast and in inland Levy County.