Want to discover Florida’s Nature Coast? We know 10 things to do in Crystal River that are sure to give you an appreciation for the beauty of Florida’s great outdoors.
Go find Florida’s soul just 90 minutes from Orlando in Crystal River, with its warm gulf waters, spring-fed rivers, gentle manatees, fantastic fishing and bountiful lakes.
Things to do in Crystal River, FL
The loveable cows of the sea and a Florida staple visiting the Manatees in Crystal River is the number one thing to do. That’s because it’s the only place in the WORLD where you can meet one face to face.
Choose your Manatee Adventure. Meet them…
- On a paddleboard – Head over to Manatee Paddle in downtown Crystal River, paddleboard rentals and tours are available.
- In a fishbowl – Step into the Fishbowl, a large glass underwater observatory, if you are lucky you can get nose to nose with the gentle giants at Ellie Schiller’s Homosassa Springs State Wildlife Park
- On a walk – visit Hunter Springs where manatee spottings are a daily thing in the winter months
- On a river cruise – literally, a manatee cruise to see these gentle giants.
- Take a plunge – That’s right, swim with the cows of the sea. Just be sure to pay close attention to the rules and “Manatee Manners”.
2. Explore the Nature Coast’s “Crown Jewel”
Three Sisters Springs is arguably the best snorkeling spot in Citrus County. Beyond that, it is home to beautiful clear swimming waters (closed to humans during the winter months to be home for the manatees), canoeing, kayaking, and simply walking along the wooden boardwalk to take in the splendor.
3. Downtown History
Step back in time and explore the historic downtown Crystal River. Stroll through Heritage Villiage, wander into the Coastal Heritage Museum for a quick glimpse back in time, or simply take to the streets to experience the unique food, drink, and shopping.
Participate in the Historic Downtown Cell Phone Walking Tour. Just call the number associated with each location to learn about its history if that’s your thing…or just kill time while your partner is in the pub.
You mean, those little delicacies you order in seafood restaurants. That’s them! Don’t have a boat but long for the adventure of scalloping? Numerous local fisherman offer scalloping charters and many local marinas offer boat rentals. Scallop season is July 1 through September 24, so get your permit and harvest away!
5. Fishing, the ultimate Florida activity
The area’s waterways never have a shortage of fish to bait your hook. Or if you’re feeling really adventurous, book a charter fishing trip offshore for a deep sea fishing excursion. Check with the Florida Fish & Wildlife website to determine which fish are in season and the species measurements and limits. And never fish without a valid permit.
6. Bask in the shade of the Crystal River Parks
These parks include the Crystal River Preserve State Park, the Crystal River Archeological State Park, and the Crystal River Preserve Churchhouse Hammock Trail.
Crystal River Preserve State Park offers two major trails and the Crystal River Archeological Park showcases the Indian mounds which were formed two thousand years ago.
7. Swimming, swimming, in the swimming hole
With seven rivers and a large system of lakes located here, there is no shortage of water hot spots around Crystal River. Below are some of the hottest:
- Sandy Hook – Located where the mouth of the Salt River meets the Gulf of Mexico. Sandy Hook is also a popular destination for the fishermen and scallopers who go out early to fish and are ready to unwind when the bait is gone. At low tide, the sandbar is completely exposed offering a great spot to put down a chair.
- Hunter Springs Park – Located in the heart of downtown Crystal River, Hunter Springs is the only water hotspot accessible by land. The small beach-like area is perfect for an afternoon under the sun or a great place to enjoy a picnic lunch and there is a kayak launch.
- The King Spring – located around the corner from The Shallows. Many boaters enjoy dropping anchor here and swimming to the springs. The King Spring is approximately 50 feet deep and a well-known spot for scuba divers.
8. When the sun goes down…
Fort Island Beach Park is located at the very end of Ft. Island Trail, a long relaxing meandering road that takes you out to where the land meets the gulf. Savor sunsets in an array of pinks, reds, oranges, and purples from the comfort of the beach at Ft. Island. Open daily from sunrise to sunset, admission to the park is free of charge.
Crystal River is home to several unique golf courses. The best known and accessible to the public are the courses at the Plantation on Crystal River. It features an 18-hole par 72 course as well as a 9-hole par 31 practice course. Crystal River Golf Club and the world renowned Black Diamond Ranch are nearby as well.
10. Live like the locals
My favorite way to enjoy a new place, like the locals do. Move away from the tourist traps and enjoy a variety of festivals and events like the Florida Manatee Festival, Scarecrow Festival, Stone Crab Jam and the 4th of July. The first Saturday of each month is celebrated with Sunset at the Pier and the Crystal River Mall hosts events weekly. Check out the Discovery Crystal River Facebook Page or their event calendar to stay up to date on upcoming events. That’s what the locals do.