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Travel destinations, beaches and attractions and things to do in Florida. Documented by RESIDENTS of Florida.

Day Trip to Cabbage Key Florida – Jimmy Buffet’s Cheeseburger in Paradise?

How to Get To Cabbage Key - Florida Day Trip by Boat

Cabbage Key is a unique Florida day trip and a great way to get an exceptional cheeseburger on an island. Cabbage Key Florida is a remote island in the Gulf of Mexico.

Since it is an island, the only way to access Cabbage Key is by boat!  That is half the fun of your Florida day trip –  discovering how to get to get to Cabbage Key Florida.

day trip to Cabbage Key Florida - History of Cabbage Key
The ferry at Cabbage Key makes regular trips to and from the island. The Cabbage Key Inn docks allow power boats to dock for their famous cheeseburger.

Just south of Punta Gorda, Florida is a road off the interstate highway I-75 called Pine Island Road (known also as Route 78). The road leads to an Island (surprisingly called Pine Island!) that has towns like Matlacha, Bokeelia, and St. Mary’s (where one of Florida’s best dive bars, Ragged Ass Saloon, is located).

However, our destination would be a dock at Pineland Marina near Bokeelia. The ferry to  Cabbage Key  is located at this marina that runs ferries to multiple islands in Pine Island Sound.

 A water taxi takes you a 20-minute ride across Pine Island Sound to the island of Cabbage KeyFlorida. The water taxi hops several islands in Pine Island Sound including North Captiva Island. The cost varies but the ride is priceless. To book the ferry to Cabbage Key, they have a website and rate schedule at Island Girl Charters.

This Florida Day Trip is a Fun Ride Across the Bay

Cabbage Key is home to an old Florida restaurant where legend has it that Jimmy Buffet was inspired to write “Cheeseburger in Paradise”. Jimmy says that is not the case, but the legend still exists.

While Jimmy Buffet has discounted the rumor, many people who take this Florida day trip to the island of Cabbage Key agree that it is the setting Jimmy should have considered! The cheeseburger is excellent at Cabbage Key Inn.

Florida day trip to Cabbage Key Florida History
Cabbage Key Inn is worth a Florida day trip for its famous cheeseburger.

The Cabbage Key Inn is quite remote, but a fun ride on the water taxi to the island of Cabbage Key. The island has a rich history.

The History of Cabbage Key Florida

Cuban fishermen were on Cabbage Key in the 1700s and tarpon was being studied in the 1900s. There is also evidence of occupation as early as 500 BC by Native Americans – most likely the Calusa Indians. The Calusa inhabited most of the southwest Florida coast and some of the Florida Keys.

The history of the Cabbage Key Inn is as fascinating as the island itself. Deaths, divorces and visions are related at the history section of the Inn’s website.

where is cabbage Key Florida
The rich history of the island includes the ups and downs of the Cabbage Key Inn. The thousands of dollar bills hang from every spot of ceilings and walls.

While waiting to get a seat at the Cabba Key Inn, you can roam around the island.  The Inn is hugely popular, but they have made waiting for a table part of the adventure. They have some trails on the island and a few games in the wooded area next to the restaurant.

Once you get inside the Cabbage Key Inn, you know you have entered an old Florida location that has weathered hurricanes, floods, tropical storms, and everything else mother nature could muster. Even the thousands of $1 bills lining the walls have survived the many hurricanes since 1971.

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Rustic tables, fun servers, and one of the best cheeseburgers you can find will greet you at the Cabbage Key Inn. 

Boat Ride, Good Food on an Island – Great Florida Day Trip

how to get to Cabbage Key Map
Map of Cabbage Key Florida ferry routes to get to Cabbage Key Inn.

We think this is one of the most creative and fun Florida day trips you can find. Once you have figured out how to get to Cabbage Key Florida and take the ferry to Cabbage Key Inn, you will be back for more adventure around these islands. A Cabbage Key day trip will take you the better part of the day with travel time, boat ride, island exploring, and the return trip.

A Florida day trip to Pine Island and the Cabbage Key Inn is about a two-hour drive from Clearwater or Tampa, Florida. The day trip from Orlando would be about 3 hours. A day trip from Naples would be about an hour.

Florida Travel Blog features many Florida day trips to unique islands. Below are some suggestions for future island day trips in Florida.


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