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Cedar Key, Florida - Coolest Small Towns 2022

By Budget Travel Editors
September 30, 2021
Cedar Key Florida
Wanderland | Flickr Creative Commons license
Make your Gulf dreams come true

If you’re looking for a laid-back place to make your Gulf dreams come true, Cedar Key, about an hour from Gainesville, on Florida’s northwest coast, is the place to do it.

With a population hovering around 700 and a location that puts a firm emphasis on salt water — including a national wildlife refuge, a state park, nature preserves, stretches of sandy beach, and a thriving fishing industry — Cedar Key basically challenges you not to relax. Set aside a few days to get to know this beautiful corner of the Sunshine State.

The 13 islands of Cedar Key National Wildlife Refuge offer unique opportunities for birdwatching (including migratory birds and majestic pelicans), dolphins in season, and colorful butterflies. Cedar Key Museum State Park combines the best of the region’s natural beauty with rich history, including the restored 1920s Whitman home and memorabilia from the town’s past. Speaking of history, when you’re not soaking up some sun at the beach, you’ll want to soak up some history via photographs and artifacts at Cedar Key Historical Museum.

But who are we kidding? With all that Gulf water lapping the shores, seafood may be your number-one priority here — clam bars, seafood joints ranging from modest to posh, and chowder abound in Cedar Key, with enough options to satisfy every taste.

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Meet Budget Travel’s Coolest Small Towns for 2022:

Cedar Key, Florida
Fredericksburg, Texas
Morro Bay, California
Nisswa, Minnesota
North Adams, Massachusetts
Red Lodge, Montana
St. Simons Island, Georgia
Tarrytown, New York
Telluride, Colorado
Thibodaux, Louisiana



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Tarrytown, New York - Coolest Small Towns 2022

On the shores of New York’s Hudson River, just 16 miles from the Bronx border, Tarrytown combines history, natural beauty, and a range of small businesses that make for a truly unique small-town experience. Margo Timmins, lead singer of the alt-country band Cowboy Junkies, recently announced from the stage of the Tarrytown Music Hall that the venue, on the town’s scenic Main Street, is one of her favorite places to perform because there is a great coffeehouse on one side and the yarn shop on the other. That would be Coffee Labs, purveyors of exquisite artisanal java (there will be a line, possibly out the door, but it’s worth the wait), and Flying Fingers, a favorite of Martha Stewart’s, boasting a giant sheep sculpture adorned with brightly colored yarn right outside the front door. You could spend your entire day combing Main Street for world cuisine — Lefteris’s Greek fare and Tarry Tavern’s upscale comfort food are just two wildly popular examples — or galleries, thrift shops, and musical instruments. But set aside some time to explore beautiful historic sites such as Sunnyside (once home to Washington Irving, the first man of American letters and the author of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow and Rip Van Winkle) and Lyndhurst (a 19th century mansion whose riverside grounds now play host to craft fairs, kennel shows, and jazz concerts). No visit to this region is complete without traversing RiverWalk, a scenic trail through the woods along the eastern shore of the Hudson, and the many winding trails in Rockefeller State Park and Preserve. More about Tarrytown Tarrytown, NY A trip to Tarrytown offers visitors the perfect complement of history, dining, shopping and nature -- not to mention entertainment and first class lodging. Keep Reading... Meet Budget Travel’s Coolest Small Towns for 2022: Content presented by Have Fun Do Good Have Fun Do Good (HFDG) is on a mission to provide adventure seekers with a unique experience that allows them to travel while giving back to the community through volunteering. Learn more at https://havefundogood.co/

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Morro Bay, California - Coolest Small Towns 2022:

You will likely approach the town via inland Highway 101 before heading west, winding through coastal hills down toward the water. As you arrive in town, you’ll find you are a world away from the hustle-bustle of Cali’s big cities to the north and south. Here in Morro Bay, life moves at a pace well-suited to a “vacation for real people.” Tour the wharf, where kids of all ages will love watching fishing boats delivering their daily bounty. And you don’t have to just watch — local restaurants such as Bayside Cafe transform each day’s catch into fresh, imaginative meals such as contemporary riffs on fried clams and crabcakes. Stroll Morro Bay’s main drag, and drop into charming shops like Kites & Surreys, and Revolve Thrift. Explore exceptional parkland, including Morro Bay State Park, or the nearby beaches. Rest your head in a comfy, affordable room at The Landing motel, with views of the bay — and iconic Morro Rock — out your window. Morro Bay is one of those little towns that touches your heart in a big way, making a return visit just about mandatory. More about Morro Bay Morro Bay Morro Bay is unlike any other California seaside town. Just off its shore an ancient volcanic monolith known as Morro Rock rises 576 feet from the ocean, amplifying the magnificence of this stunning coastal backdrop. Keep Reading... Meet Budget Travel’s Coolest Small Towns for 2022: Content presented by Have Fun Do Good Have Fun Do Good (HFDG) is on a mission to provide adventure seekers with a unique experience that allows them to travel while giving back to the community through volunteering. Learn more at https://havefundogood.co/

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Budget Travel Lists

15 unbelievably cheap private islands you can rent in the US

Hotels? Too full of other guests. Vacation rentals? Too close to other people. A private island? Just right. Monmouth, Maine A classic A-frame house, hammock, rope swing, and canoe all await you on this private island on Maine’s Annabessacook Lake – for as low as $150 per night. The price includes a private ferry ride to and from the island for all guests and their luggage. Guests can spend the day walking the island’s 14 acres of trails, swimming, and kayaking, and then cook dinner in the fully-equipped kitchen or on a campfire under the stars. Juggler Lake, Minnesota This cheap private island on Juggler Lake is a budget hiker’s paradise, with 18 acres of lush forest to explore, as well as wild strawberries, ginger, and morels to forage for. Only about an hour and a half from Fargo, the island offers a relaxing nature-focused getaway for anyone looking for some peace and quiet. The A-frame cabin sleeps up to 10 people in three bedrooms and has all the amenities – including three patios, floating diving dock, and a fully-equipped kitchen. A boat is available for rent for just $200, and the private island itself costs only $375 per night. Hilton Head, South Carolina When you rent the Private Islands of Old House Cay, you get not just one private island but three – all for the low price of $536 a night. This lowcountry group of islands is just 10 minutes from Hilton Head, but feels like a whole world away. The main island included with the rental comes with an off-the-grid, modern home that’s equipped with all the creature comforts you’ll need for a relaxing getaway. A tour boat passing between islands at Thousand Islands National Park © Getty Images / iStockphoto Thousand Islands, New York For a cheap private island getaway in the Thousand Islands, rent Quadkin Island. The island’s spacious five-bedroom house can be yours (along with up to 11 of your friends) for as low as $471 per night – spectacular sunsets, swimming, and boating included. Hinesburg, Vermont Named Dogatraz Island, this one-acre getaway is perfect for pets and their owners. Set on Lake Iroquois, this Vermont escape offers swimming, fishing, bird-watching, and incredible sunsets. The two-bedroom house has all the amenities (including potable water, which isn’t always a guarantee on an island). A cozy outdoor seating area, fire pit, and long dock complete this outdoorsy rental. This cheap private island can host four people (and any number of dogs) for a mere $379 per night – dog treats not included, but kayaks and canoes are. Republic Island, Michigan For as little as $106 per night, Republic Island on Michigan’s Michigamme River can be rented to groups of four or less. The private island hosts a three-bedroom cedar log cabin that was built in the 1800s, and is surrounded by two-acres of densely wooded land. A boat is included with the rental to close the 300ft gap to the shoreline. Bremen, Maine This log cabin nestled on a private island in Maine can be rented for just $150 a night by groups of six or less. The gorgeously designed house features a fieldstone fireplace, cathedral ceiling, and a screened-in porch. The island is a short row away from mainland Damariscotta, and there are three kayaks and life jackets available for guests to use to explore the surrounding waters. Explore miles of pristine shoreline in Minnesota © GeorgeBurba / Getty Images Lake of the Woods, Minnesota Blackbird Island, on Minnesota’s Lake of the Woods, is just one mile from Canadian waters and provides the perfect base for exploring the 65,000 miles of pristine shoreline nearby. The private island’s charming cabin sleeps up to eight, and rental prices start at just $143 per night. Poulsbo, Washington From the shores of Poulsbo, Washington, guests are ferried over to their private paradise on Island Lake via an electric raft (a service that’s included in the $304/night rate). The island’s main house sleeps up to eight people, and for stays of four nights or longer, a second cabin will be made available for the group’s use so they can spread out even more. Gloucester, Rhode Island The large cabin on this private island comfortably sleeps 11 people, so a big group might pay just $31 per person per night – a true bargain considering the beautiful sandy beaches, rowboat, beach chairs, and picnic table that come along with the rental. The island is kept natural and wild, so there’s no running water or electricity, but there are solar lights, a wood-burning stove, firepit, and gas grill. Douglas, Massachusetts Forget camping – a private island in Douglas State Forest can be rented for almost the same price as a campground spot. Dodd Island sleeps eight people, bringing the cost down to $34 per person per night. The 7-acre cheap private island is perched on Whitins Reservoir, a warm and shallow lake with visibility down to 40ft, making it a paradise for snorkelers and divers. Lake Winnipesaukee, New Hampshire © DenisTangneyJr / Getty Images Lake Winnipesaukee, New Hampshire Foley Island is a private island surrounded by the beautiful waters of Lake Winnipesaukee. A secluded swimming area and over-water sundeck make this a true island paradise, and it can all be rented by up to 12 people for just $386 per night. Sands Island, North Carolina Sands Island rents for $325 per night and gives groups of up to four 32-acres of undeveloped land to explore. The private island’s two-bedroom cottage is the only building on the entire island and was built from locally milled pine. It uses solar power to seamlessly blend into the surrounding environment. Eagle Island, Georgia A 1500-sq-ft house with wrap-around screened porch, hot tub, and wood-burning fireplace can be yours for as little as $475 per night on Eagle Island, which includes access to the entire private island. Boat rentals, fishing tours, and eco-adventures are also available to book at an extra cost. Swansboro, North Carolina This famous private island in Swansboro, North Carolina, has appeared on the Island Hunters television show. If you missed the episode, the island has a small cabin that sleeps up to four people. Surrounded by white sandy beaches, the island is great for relaxing, but not too far from civilization (you can kayak right up to nearby bars and restaurants with dock entry). Rates for this ultra-cheap private island start at $101 per night. This article originally ran on our sister site, Lonely Planet.

Budget Travel Lists

10 bucket list adventures in Alaska

This content has been produced in partnership with Visit Anchorage. Alaska has no shortage of things to do! Adventurers will discover that Anchorage is a great “anchor” point for a wide variety of amazing adventures that are sure to provide lifelong memories. 1. See a glacier Alaska has over 100,000 glaciers, that have shaped the landscape for thousands of years! Anchorage has over 60 glaciers within 50 miles for explorers. Take a glacier cruise for a few hours and listen to the loud rumbling as these massive landmarks continue to carve through the land. mv Ptarmigan cruising in front of Portage Glacier. Credit: Donna Dewhurst, Visit Anchorage 2. Take a sightseeing trip Anchorage has several incredible day-trip options for sightseeing. Take the Glacier Discovery Train to Spencer Whistle Stop for the day, take a flightseeing plane to see Alaska from the sky, or ride the Alyeska Tramway 2300 feet up a mountain. No matter which you choose, you’re guaranteed to see some of the most beautiful scenery in the United States! 3. See a whale A trip to Alaska isn’t complete without some whale-watching! Pods of beluga whales spend their summers in the waters outside Anchorage. Or, head to Seward and hop on a sightseeing cruise to see some of the biggest species of whales in the world! 4. Bear Viewing near Anchorage Bears at the zoo. Credit: JodyO.Photos, Visit Anchorage Alaska is the only place in the US that has black, brown, and polar bears! Take a short flight to Katmai or Lake Clark National Parks and see these fascinating creatures as they feed near a salmon-filled steam. In October, make sure you vote in Katmai’s annual fat bear week. To see a polar bear, check out the Alaska Zoo in Anchorage. 5. View the northern lights The northern lights are a beautiful phenomenon of auroras that dance in the night sky. They are active in Alaska between mid-August and April. Popular spots for viewing them are Eklutna Tailrace, Girdwood, and the Knik River. The northern lights. Credit: JodyO.Photos, Visit Anchorage 6. Enjoy the Midnight Sun Alaska is so far north that it has more summer daylight than anywhere else in the lower contiguous US! In June, the sunset happens around midnight, providing plenty of time for outdoor activities. It’s incredible how much fits in a day when the sun barely ever sets! 7. Go Dog Sledding Dog Sledding is Alaska’s state sport, and visitors can experience dog sledding year round (though best in winter!). In summer, several mushers will camp out on top of glaciers to provide an authentic sled-dog experience. Dog sledding Girdwood. Credit: Nicole Geils, Visit Anchorage 8. Alaska Art and Shopping Anchorage has lots of excellent shopping options for the discerning shopper. Peruse a downtown filled with authentic art galleries, and support Alaska native art. Pick up some fresh-caught salmon for dinner, or some homemade candy for dessert! Anchorage provides tax-free shopping Denali National Park. Credit: Ashley Heimbigner, Visit Anchorage 9. Visit National Parks Anchorage is a dream for National Park enthusiasts! Its close proximity to Alaska’s major parks provides tons of options for adventurers. Take a sightseeing plane over the soaring peaks of Denali, take a day cruise to the Kenai Fjords, or (safely) see a bear from Katmai or Lake Clark! Make sure to stop into the visitor’s center to get a stamp for your National Park passport book. 10. Take a road trip Anchorage has several different options for a scenic day trip drive, allowing you to get out of the city and see some of Alaska’s beautiful scenery. Take a coastal trip down the Seward Highway, and see huge mountain peaks topped with ice. Head up to the Glen Alps for a breathtaking panorama of Anchorage and its surrounding area. Head up to Hatcher Pass for some dramatic landscapes and stop to explore some of the old remnants from the gold rush. There's never been a better time to cross of your bucket list adventures in Alaska! This content has been produced in partnership with Visit Anchorage.

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