The first thing you need to know about Cabbage Key Inn and Restaurant is that you need to take a boat to get to it and that’s a good thing. Once there you’ll find one hundred acres of tropical vegetation surround the historic restaurant, inn and cottages of Cabbage Key making this destination a tropical paradise. What you won’t find are paved roads or cars (although there are a few golf carts). What you will find are winding nature trails, picturesque views and relaxation. It’s the perfect way to see Old Florida as you get Away From it All.
On one of my road trips discovering my Florida, I got to stay at Tarpon Lodge on Pine Island. It was there that I had the pleasure of interviewing one of the owners Rob Wells and got to learn some of the history of Tarpon Lodge and how his family started their adventures on Cabbage Key. It was a joy getting to know a little bit more about Pine Island and about Rob and his family. After the interview Rob graciously offered to take me out to Cabbage Key where the family still lives and share a taste of their beautiful Island Paradise with me. How could I say no! As we left Tarpon Lodge I had a great view of one of the harbor, which is pictured above.
We picked up a few friends along the way!
As it turns out dolphins are attracted by the wake created by boats and love swimming along side and playing in the waves. We had one along side us swimming upside down for awhile and I was so excited I didn’t remember to take a pic….sigh.
We had an amazing tour of the northern end of Pine Island Sound and the surrounding islands getting a scenic tour as well as the history of the area. When we pulled up to the docks at Cabbage Key, we were greeted by The Dollhouse Cottage also referred to as the “honeymoon suite” and one of their most popular cottages. The Dollhouse was originally built in the early 1930’s for the Rinehart children (original owners) as a playhouse. The Dollhouse is a one bedroom air conditioned cottage with a king bed, basic TV, small refrigerator, coffee maker and a living room. The cottage is situated on the water with a private dock, screened front porch and breath taking view of Pine Island Sound. You can learn more about the rest of the accommodations on the property by going to the Cabbage Key Inn and Restaurant Website.
We had a nice walk along the trails and thought this sign was pretty funny (only because we didn’t run into the gator).
And spent some time atop the original Cabbage Key Water Tower, enjoying the breeze and the view!
The day couldn’t have been better and we enjoyed exploring the island. They have plenty of room at their docks for the boaters that come by for lunch and dinner. And since I brought it up, lets talk about the food at Cabbage Key!
On the way over Rob asked us if we had ever had Stone Crab Claws. The answer had been no and later on at the restaurant we rectified that problem by devouring a plateful of stone crabs and Florida pink shrimp. It was a feast of epic proportions!
The waitress checked back on us frequently to make sure we hadn’t passed out from the ecstasy of our plateful of deliciousness and offered us wet naps more as a necessity than a courtesy.
After we had calmed down a bit we were served the two house specialty desserts, Key Lime Pie and Caramel Turtle Fudge Ice Cream Pie. OMG, they were ah-mazing!!! Both desserts were made in house (a question I always ask the server) and both were exceptionally delicious. Lisa started with the Key Lime which I had to pry away from her, only to have her claim ownership of the remains of the Caramel Turtle pie after tasting it. Talk about an unexpected culinary adventure! Not only is the island the perfect get away, the food is legendary…. in fact it’s rumored that Jimmy Buffet wrote Cheeseburger in Paradise enjoying a cold beer and a Cabbage Key Burger after a day of fishing. I’ll have to come back for the burger, but I can verify the paradise part.
The Inn and restaurant sits high upon a Calusa Indian mound. You’ll see boaters pull up to the docks throughout the day to enjoy the laid back casual feel of the restaurant. The centerpiece of the restaurant is its collection of US currency taped to the ceilings and walls in the dining rooms. Our server told us that there are over 70,000 dollar bills on the walls (all that fall off during the year are donated to charities). The tradition started years ago when a commercial fisherman, taped a few bills to the wall, just in case he hit a dry spell fishing and couldn’t afford lunch (or liquid refreshments). After that it became a tradition amongst locals and tourists alike. If you look around see if my bills are still taped to the wall by the door.
After the perfect day at Cabbage Key Inn and Restaurant it was time to say goodbye and head back to Tarpon Lodge.
The water was beautiful, the breezes cooling and the dolphins playful…… who could ask for more.
Here I am with Rob Wells. I’m always happy to make a new friend on a new adventure in paradise. Welcome to My Florida!
Click on the link for more information about Cabbage Key Inn and Restaurant and Tarpon Lodge on Pine Island.
This post was made possible by the wonderful folks at Superior Small Lodging of Florida and the Wells family at Cabbage Key and Tarpon Lodge.
If you want to experience Old Florida at its best, Superior Small Lodging is a name you can count on.
I’m glad to hear that Cabbage Key is still the paradise it was 40 years ago when I visited one afternoon on a trip down the intercoastal. To this day, if home made key lime pie is on the menu, I will order to compare with the one I had that day. Nothing close yet.
Phyllis La Croix
Need, the recipe for the key lime pie,Please!!!
Chef Dennis Littley
I wish I had it Phyllis, they weren’t willing to part with the recipe.
Raymond L Adame
I love it and would like to stay at the inn and eat at the restaurant.