Exploring Florida's wide-open spaces with crystal-clear springs, nature preserves and memorable keys
Discover an unspoiled region that bursts with outdoor adventure and wildlife sightings. Levy County, located on Florida's Gulf Coast, is perfect for sports enthusiasts and vacationers who enjoy taking a break from all those manmade attractions that big cities have to offer.
One-fifth of this vastly scenic county is set aside for national and state wildlife areas, which means anywhere you go in the county you're bound to notice and appreciate the pristine conditions and quality of life. There are numerous entertaining parks, sensational recreation areas, pristine preserves and out-of-the-way refuges to choose from for your time in this beloved wilderness. With well over 25 nature-based recreational sites located in and around Levy, you might run out of time before running out of things to see and do here.
Known as "Florida's Natural Paradise," Levy is more populated by birds and other beautiful wildlife than it is by mankind, which is exactly how you want a place as lush, green and tranquil as Levy to be. The peace and quiet provides a revitalizing yet calming energy. With its wide variety of environments, from forests and marshlands, to sand hills and warm Gulf waters, everyone will have their adventurous streak nurtured wherever they end up spending their time in the area. Florida proudly boasts having one of the largest concentrations of freshwater springs in the world. There are 400 springs in Florida, an astounding half of which are located within the Suwannee Basin. This famously crystal-clear water inevitably beckons all of those who enjoy diving, snorkeling, and swimming along with other amusing recreational water sports.
With the abundance of freshwater lakes and streams found here, it's no wonder that agriculture thrives in this region. Historic fishing villages have cropped up over the years, including Cedar Key and Williston, which are most notable for their peanut crops. There are ample places to stay while enjoying this region of Florida, including inns, hotels, bed and breakfasts, campgrounds and numerous state parks.
There are also so many opportunities for wildlife viewing, hiking, camping, fishing, hunting, swimming, diving, boating and more in the surrounding areas. The countless little towns also offer a wide array of delicious restaurants and antique shopping options as well.
The Cedar Keys National Wildlife Refuge is actually a cluster of small islands that the public only has limited access to by boat. The word "keys" originates from the Indian word "cayo," meaning "small island." They couldn't have found a more fitting word. These 13 islands, when combined, add up to 762 acres of land.
There is plenty of wildlife that can be found on and around these small fragile islands, including bald eagles, fishes, manatees, wading and shore birds, crabs and reptiles. An old historic lighthouse sits on a Pleistecene dune relic at Seahorse Key for all to enjoy from afar.
Check out Cedar Keys National Wildlife Refuge on Atsena Otie Key. While it is the only island with limited accessibility to the public (and only by boat), it still contains the same unspoiled qualities of the rest of the keys, just with some nice convenient manmade touches added here and meant for your convenience and to enhance your stay. For example, there is a picturesque trail through the tropical beauty of the island to a 19th-century cemetery. Not to mention the pier that you can stroll out on amid the gorgeously clear blue water surrounding you.
You will also happily notice they do have a toilet facility and interpretive information for you to read as you explore the island and its array of offerings. Also interesting to view are the historic ruins of the Faber Mill and Indian midden, easily visible from the pier.
The island's beaches are open for public use, except for Seahorse Key, from March to July each year, to protect the nesting birds. The weather and tide affects the accessibility to the islands, since they are largely surrounded by shallow mud flats, rendering them inaccessible at extremely low tides. The Shell Mound Unit of the Lower Suwannee National Wildlife Refuge offers ranger programs, wildlife observation, fishing, boating and more.
With so much to do and such a splendid selection of things to choose from, visitors are oftentimes taken aback at the immense beauty. Others simply let Mother Nature call them to her shores.
Many enjoy viewing and observing wildlife in its natural habitat, camping at a local state park and adoring the pristine scenery that is, by far, Florida's best kept secret.
For More Information:
Levy County Visitors Bureau
Florida Department of Tourism