Cabbage Key: The Hidden Inspiration Behind “Cheeseburger In Paradise”

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Cabbage Key, a tiny land on the map nestled among the Ten Thousand Islands on the west coast of Florida, is a place full of inspiration and hidden surprises.

And one of those surprises is its unlikely connection to a popular song that's been a hit with fans of Jimmy Buffett for decades.

Resort pier view at Cabbage Key, Florida

In the world of music, there's a unique song that often stirs the appetite as much as it does the spirit - "Cheeseburger in Paradise".

This catchy tune by Jimmy Buffett has long captured the hearts of parrot heads and foodies alike.

Here's a video of Jimmy Buffett singing the famous song in a live performance.

But did you know that the origin of this song is said to be tied to a charming restaurant in a tucked-away corner of Cabbage Key?

The Cabbage Key Inn and Restaurant

The story goes that Jimmy Buffett, during a sailing trip, sought shelter from a storm on Cabbage Key.

Hungry and exhausted, he docked his boat and wandered into the island’s lone restaurant, a historic building that's been around since the 1930s.

There, he ordered a simple, delicious cheeseburger that seemed to taste like paradise, given his circumstances.

Two cheeseburgers on top of a brown paper bag

That cheeseburger, savored in a moment of respite amid the storm, was the spark that led to the creation of "Cheeseburger in Paradise".

Located on the tiny island of Cabbage Key, the restaurant that reportedly inspired the song is a must-visit.

The Restaurant is simply called The Cabbage Key Inn and Restaurant and you will immediately recognize it with the distinct dollar bills covering the walls.

This hanging of bills was a tradition started by fishermen decades ago, giving the place so much charm, history, and oozing with character.

Cabbage Key famous cheeseburger restaurant

And yes, cheeseburgers continue to hold a place of honor on the menu, served with a side of history and charm.

More Places to See on Cabbage Key

Beyond the restaurant, there's much more to explore on Cabbage Key. The island, only accessible by boat, is a nature lover's paradise.

With no cars, the pace of life slows down, making it the perfect place to unwind and get lost in the beauty of nature.

Here are some of the things you can do when you visit Cabbage Key:

Visit the Cabbage Key Inn and its 60-foot Observation Tower

This vintage Old-Florida style building offers cozy rooms and cottages for an overnight stay.

The Inn was built as a private home in 1937, converted into an inn in the 1940s, and has been owned by the Wells family since 1976.

The rooms retain the charm of the original building, some with fireplaces and private screened porches.

There are also seven cottages on the ground, some with their own private docks, some with multiple rooms and full kitchens​.

Enjoy Panoramic Views

From the observation tower, you can take in panoramic views of the surrounding waterways, nearby islands, and abundant wildlife.

Thanks to the island's elevation, the inn’s dining room and porch also offer a spectacular view of Pine Island Sound and the backdrop of exclusive Useppa Island​​.

Explore the Island by Kayak

For the more adventurous, kayak rentals are available for exploring the mangrove tunnels and hidden waterways around the island.

Woman on kayak near mangroves

Cabbage Key makes an excellent base for kayaking, especially as it is only five miles from Pine Island​.

Go Fishing

If you're a fishing enthusiast, you're in for a treat. The waters around Cabbage Key are teeming with snook, redfish, and tarpon.

Stroll Along the Nature Trail

No visit to Cabbage Key would be complete without taking a leisurely walk along the nature trail.

This scenic path winds through the lush island landscape, taking you past towering tropical trees and native plants.

Keep an eye out for the local wildlife, which includes ospreys, egrets, and the occasional manatee.

Relax on Secluded Natural Beaches

Take the ferry across the quiet waters of Pine Island Sound to Cayo Costa State Park and Cabbage Key, where you will discover secluded natural beaches that are perfect for relaxation or a romantic getaway​.

Experience the Authentic Old Florida

Today the 100-acre island has many features that bear the stamp of authentic Old Florida.

There’s a picturesque water tower that has survived many hurricanes.

It continues to store the island’s well water today and also serves as a location for an active osprey nest. You can climb the tower for a good view of the area.

There is no traffic on Cabbage Key because there are no cars. All goods and services arrive by boat, with the exception of the occasional seaplane​​.

Laid Back Getaway Filled with Local Inspirational Stories

Cabbage Key is a beautiful getaway, steeped in history and nature's splendor.

Whether you're a fan of Jimmy Buffett, a foodie, a nature lover, or a history buff, Cabbage Key has something for everyone.

Come on over to Cabbage Key and get a taste of this famous cheeseburger!

For more hidden gems and destinations in Florida, read here:

Exploring the Unknown: Archaeologists Uncover Hidden Chamber in Great Pyramid

Undiscovered Florida: 5 Must-See Hidden Gems To Visit

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