History, fresh seafood, famous Cubans: Here’s our 10 favorite iconic Florida restaurants

Posted on June 26, 2021
By Annabelle Tometich, USA TODAY Network
Cabbage Key, Restaurant Reviews

Cabbage Key Inn and Restaurant Outdoor Dining

Cabbage Key Inn and Restaurant. Wesley K.H. Teo

Every city has a legendary restaurant that everyone knows — and recommends to visiting family, friends and strangers alike.

When it comes to iconic restaurants, Florida has plenty, including several open for more than a century, including Tampa’s original Columbia Restaurant and Miami Beach’s Joe’s Stone Crab.

While some are special-occasion restaurants, others are everyday favorites.

Here’s our list of some of Florida’s most enduring (and endearing) restaurants, presented in alphabetical order, from USA TODAY Network contributors from across the state.

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Samantha Brown’s Places to Love: Ft. Myers and Sanibel Island, Florida

Posted on May 23, 2021
By Samantha Brown, PBS
Cabbage Key, Recreation

Samantha kicks off her trip with a boat ride to the remote island of Cayo Costa, where she learns about the unique place, and finds some extraordinary shells. Hopping islands, Samantha meets Rob Wells, co-owner of the family owned Cabbage Key, who talks to her about being a steward of the island while showing Samantha his favorite spots.

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The South’s Best Stays 2021

Posted on May 23, 2021
By Valerie Fraser Luesse, Southern Living
Cabbage Key, Reviews

Cabbage Patch Cottage at Cabbage Key

Credit: Cedric Angeles

Historic Cabbage Key Inn & Restaurant

Cabbage Key, Florida

On this Gulf island off the South Florida coast, peace and quiet reign. You won’t find any traffic jams (or pavement), and you’ll need a boat to get there. A stay on Cabbage Key is a worlds-away experience, thanks to its sandy paths, historic stays, and open-air restaurant. We’re not sure of the eatery’s actual name; we just reference the gazillion dollar bills that are plastered over every available surface and call it what everybody else does: “the bar with all the money on the walls.” (Whether it really inspired Jimmy Buffett’s song “Cheeseburger in Paradise” is up for debate, but let’s just say it did. It makes for a good story.) Explore 100 virtually undisturbed acres, and sleep with the ocean breeze blowing through the open windows of your 1930s cabin. While you’re at it, have a cheeseburger—you know—in paradise.

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A Return To Old Florida: 6 Fantastic Experiences On Pine Island

Posted on March 2, 2021
By Fred Mays,
Cabbage Key, Dining, Fishing & Boating, Local Attractions, Nature & Wildlife, Pine Island, Tarpon Lodge

We all have those favorite vacation spots that keep bringing us back. It’s that feeling of peace and comfort that draws us again and again. That’s the way it is for me and Pine Island. I’ve been there four times and still want more.

There are any number of reasons to visit laid-back Pine Island off Florida’s Gulf Coast near Fort Myers. There is solitude and relaxation. Art galleries, fresh seafood, peace, and quiet are in abundance. There are no beaches, no hi-rise condos, not much traffic. But the biggest reason people come here is to fish!

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The 10 Best Florida Waterfront Restaurants for Boaters

Posted on December 29, 2020
By Lazy Locations
Cabbage Key, Fishing & Boating, Local Attractions

Due to population growth, finding good waterfront restaurants for boaters is becoming harder to do in Florida. These are the best ones to visit by boat.

Cabbage Key, Charlotte Harbor

Without a doubt, one of the best waterfront restaurants for boaters is Cabbage Key. Located on its own island in Charlotte Harbor, Cabbage Key is the quintessential “Old Florida” bar/restaurant and, supposedly, was the inspiration for Jimmy Buffett’s “Cheeseburger in Paradise”. While you’re eating your cheeseburger, don’t forget to wash it down with their legendary “Cabbage Creeper”.


This is an excerpt from an article by Lazy Locations.

6 off the beaten path restaurants you can’t drive to

Posted on November 30, 2020
By Chasing Trail
Cabbage Key, Reviews

It’s difficult to imagine any part of Florida that doesn’t have even one paved road, but it exists. That place is Cabbage Key, a 100-acre island just west of Fort Myers on the Gulf Coast.

The focal point inside the restaurant is the storied Dollar Bill Bar, where patrons have taped bills (over 70,000 of them, reportedly!) to every available surface for over 60 years. Some of the more famous dollars came from former President Jimmy Carter, John F. Kennedy, Jr., and — who else? — the man himself, Jimmy Buffett.

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Here, There, and Everywhere

Posted on October 20, 2020
By Necee Regis, Globe Correspondent - Boston Globe
Cabbage Key, Captiva, Sanibel, Staycation

The Beaches of Fort Myers & Sanibel are offering secluded cottage rentals for a “bubbled” vacation on the barrier islands of Sanibel and Captiva.

Florida Cottage Getaways

Looking for a family beach getaway that minimizes your COVID concerns? The Beaches of Fort Myers & Sanibel are offering secluded cottage rentals for a “bubbled” vacation on the barrier islands of Sanibel and Captiva. Visitors can bird watch at J.N. Ding Darling Wildlife Refuge, comb the beach for seashells, or bike along 25 miles of trails while staying at a diverse selection of cottage rentals.

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Cabbage Key: Old Florida Island for Kayaking, History, Atmosphere

Posted on February 11, 2020
By Bonnie Gross, Florida Rambler
Cabbage Key, History, Kayak & Canoe, Reviews, Southwest Florida

The Cabbage Key Inn atop a small hill with clear, blue sky in the background

The Cabbage Key Inn was built as a private home in 1937. It was converted into an inn in the 1940s and has been owned by the Wells family since 1976. (Photo by Bonnie Gross)

Cabbage Key, a little island west of Fort Myers reachable only by boat, is famous for a lot of things — its historic Dollar Bill Bar, papered with more than $70,000 in signed dollar bills from patrons; its association with Jimmy Buffett. Cabbage Key is familiar to thousands who visit on a popular luncheon cruise from Pine Island or Captiva and spend perhaps two hours.

But visiting Cabbage Key for a longer period of time, in the quiet mornings before day visitors arrive and in the golden evenings when the iconic bar has only a handful of boaters and fishermen, reveals a different side of Cabbage Key.

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Tarpon Lodge and Cabbage Key

Posted on December 29, 2019
By Ray Collins, Family Beautiful
Cabbage Key, Nature & Wildlife, Recreation, Staycation, Tarpon Lodge

Islands in the Sun: 80 miles and a world away from Sarasota!

Over the past 10 years and dozens of articles, this weekend staycation was among the most memorable.  It’s not for what it had, it’s more about what it didn’t have.   It’s about a weekend that got better by the hour—but not for the usual reasons.

We drove south from Sarasota on Interstate 75 and began angling toward the coast just after Punta Gorda, arriving about an hour later.   We checked into a place called Tarpon Lodge, a quaint Old Florida resort on the banks of Pine Island Sound.

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