Visitor Activities

Cedar Keys landscape view / © Cindy Svec-CedarKeyVacation.

The Cedar Keys are a little bit of heaven sitting in this low action estuary in the Gulf of Mexico.  Whether you write, paint, or contemplate, fish, paddle or peddle, you'll cherish your time in this old Florida setting.

  • Fishing

    3 boys fishing in the water

    In addition to the conservation of wildlife and habitat, Cedar Keys National Wildlife Refuge offers a wide variety of quality fishing opportunities.  Fishing promotes understanding and appreciation of natural resources and their management on all lands and waters in the Refuge System.  Shore fishing is allowed along all island beaches except for the closure period for Snake Key’s beaches and a 100-yard water perimeter from March 1 through June 30th annually. Seahorse Key’s beaches and perimeter waters are conditionally open during March 1 through June 30th.


    For a great place to reconnect with a favorite childhood activity or to try it for the first time, make plans to fish at a national wildlife refuge soon.  Find more information with our on-line Guide to Fishing on National Wildlife Refuge.

  • Wildlife Viewing

    Raccoon hunting in shallow water 150x119

    If you enjoy getting outdoors and looking for wildlife, consider a visit to Cedar Keys National Wildlife Refuge!  From birding to dolphin-watching, from viewing speedy eagle rays or slow-moving manatees, wildlife observation is the most popular activity for Refuge visitors.

    From every state and all parts of the globe, visitors come to work on their life list of birds or just sit back and enjoy the white pelicans, skimmers, terns, and bald eagles that make the Refuge their home for awhile.  Observation decks and towers are provided for viewing opportunities. 

  • Interpretation

    Ranger with students

    Refuge System interpretive programs provide opportunities for visitors to make their own connections to the natural world.  From self-guided walks to ranger-led programs, many national wildlife refuges help visitors learn more about the wildlife and habitat behind the landscapes.

    Refuge staff and volunteers join together during Lighthouse Open House events. A few times a year, the historic Cedar Keys Light Station is opened to the public for tours. Partners University of Florida, the Florida Lighthouse Association, USS Ft Henry reenactors, and others donate their time to enrich the visitor's experience while the island is open.

    Through Refuge Ranger interpretive programs, you can learn why magnificent frigate birds spend the summer on Seahorse Key, why the only "white" cottonmouths in the world love the rookery, along with thousands of other interesting and informative stories.

  • Environmental Education

    Students by marsh

    National Wildlife Refuges serve many purposes, and one of our most important roles is as outdoor classrooms to teach about wildlife and natural resources. We offer environmental education programs for a variety of audiences in partnership with the University of Florida's Seahorse Key Marine Research Lab. Seahorse Key provides a unique and exciting outdoor environment –  an excellent location for hands-on learning activities.  Hundreds of youth visit every year to learn about a specific topic on marine science, habitat, or ecological processes.

    Is your school interested in learning more about the wildlife, plants, habitats and ecology of an island?  Contact  352/493-0238 to check on program availability and reservation policies. Refuges are wild places, and we want to teach you more about them!

  • Photography

    kids taking photos

    Perhaps the fastest growing activity at national wildlife refuges in the past ten years has been wildlife photography.  That’s not surprising – the digital camera population explosion and cell phones with ever-improving picture-taking abilities are increasing the number of nature photographers at a rapid rate.  You don’t need to purchase expensive equipment or have any experience to get started.  A small camera or basic cell phone will do just fine for most visitors.

    We provide enhanced opportunities to photograph wildlife in natural habitats by providing platforms, brochures, interpreters, viewing areas, and tour routes.  Wildlife photography is a high-priority activity in the Refuge System.  We welcome beginning and expert photographers alike to record their outdoor adventures on film, memory card or internal hard drive! Feel free to email us a copy to, to be featured and credited to you on our webpages.