Welcome to Citrus County, The Water Lover’s Florida, featuring a seemingly endless stream of fun activities for all ages! The charming communities of Crystal River, Homosassa, Inverness & Floral City offer visitors an engaging mix of watchable wildlife, thrilling eco-adventures, historical sites, endless recreational boating and fishing opportunities, great shopping and fabulous local seafood.
Epic Natural Springs
Citrus County is home to some of the most incredible natural springs to be found anywhere. Bubbling to the surface from the Florida’s aquifer they are a joy to behold -crystal clear water and a constant temperature year round which suits visitors and wildlife to a tee!
Columns of sunlight reflect off of glistening swarms of fish and manatees in an incredibly transparent topaz environment that defies imagination.
The names here are legendary: Three Sisters Springs, Homosassa Spring, Seven Sisters Spring and the seventy springs of Kings Bay. “Nothing I had been told prepared me for what I saw,” wrote Florida’s foremost naturalist Archie Carr when he first saw Homosassa Spring in the 1950’s.
If ever there was a Fountain of Youth, this must be the place, so prepare to be amazed.
Manatee Capital Of The World
Few can resist the charm of manatees, and Citrus County has them in great numbers. In fact, the County’s relatively warm, spring-fed waters attract North America’s largest manatee gathering each winter. They react to the close-at-hand presence of swimmers, with characteristic good nature.
A thousand pound manatee in the wild, often with a baby or two alongside, is an unforgettable sight. And Citrus County is the only place in North America where nature lovers can legally swim and snorkel with these gentle giants.
Nowhere else will you find more manatees in winter months than in Crystal River, Homosassa and the waters of Citrus County.
This is the only place in the United States where you can legally swim with manatees and our guides are trained to make sure we treat this beloved threatened species with the utmost care and respect.
In March 2015, the State of Florida’s aerial survey found 6,063 manatees in Florida waters. Of those, over 1,000 manatees—fully one-sixth of the state’s entire population of manatees–was found in the springs of Florida’s Citrus County.
Why so many manatees? The numerous springs, fed by the Florida aquifer, are the natural choice for manatees to seek warm water shelter when temperatures in Florida waters fall below 65 degrees (18C). In waters that cold, manatees experience cold stress and even hypothermia. Springs are the natural sheltering choice for manatees since the springs have a constant temperature of 72 to 74 degrees (22-23C).
Florida is a leading international scuba diving destination and we’re at the top of the list. From deep springs welling from the Great Florida Aquifer to the open waters of the Gulf of Mexico, there is an incredible underwater world to explore here.
Citrus County’s guides and Dive shops are among the best in Florida. Whether you’re a beginner eager for an incredible experience or seeking certification for open water or master diver, you’ve come to the right place.
Scalloping In Summer
Call it an Easter Egg Hunt Florida-style. Every summer, the star of the sea is the delectable Bay Scallop of the warm shallow waters of the Gulf of Mexico.
Ever since some bright scientists at the University of Florida figured out how to have a sustainable annual scallop harvest, folks have been coming to Citrus County from hundreds of miles away to scoop up these tasty little shellfish in the shallow Gulf Waters during the recreational season that runs from July 1 through September 25.
Because you have to know how to collect scallops, where to find them and what the harvesting limits and regulations are, your introduction to the sport is best done by with a local fishing guide. It’s a fun family-friendly underwater adventure and all you need is a mask, snorkel and flippers and one exceptional charter captain.
Don’t worry about dinner either. Once you’re back, you can even bring your catch to a local restaurant that will cook it for you. It’s a venerable local tradition and a Florida family favorite.
It’s everything that is still wild in Florida–a labyrinthine world of seven rivers, crystal clear springs, open bays and freshwater lakes that go on forever. Anywhere you go, a kayak, a paddleboard or a canoe is always ready for launch and remarkable experiences await.
From the Chassahowitzka River and the mangrove islands of the Saint Martins Marsh Aquatic Preserve to the open waters of the Tsala Apopka Lakes traced by the incredible Withlacoochee River, you’ve arrived in Florida’s paddling paradise.
Float Your Boat
In Citrus County there is water, water everywhere! Countless miles of little channels, larger streams and impressive rivers punctuate the Citrus County shoreline where land and Gulf of Mexico saltwater meet. Canoe and kayak trips reveal a world unknown to landlubbers, where the serenity is unprecedented. Charter fishing captains are often surprised by the size and variety of catches – freshwater and saltwater. It’s only a short run to the open waters of the Gulf and as much adventure as you can handle!
Three words say it all: World Class Fishing. Whether you long for the deep sea off shore or salt water flats in shore, Crystal River and Homosassa are revered for some of Florida’s best saltwater sport fishing. Inland, the thirty-mile long Tsala Apopka Chain of Lakes provides one of Florida’s top freshwater fishing spots. It’s the best of both worlds.
Local fishing guides trace their lineage back for generations to the founding of the Homosassa Guides Association and the Atlanta Fishing Club in the 19th Century. All you need to bring is your passion for a day on the water and some tight lines!
Whether you’re an avid cyclist looking to put away some serious miles or just want to get a little fresh air and exercise without the urban congestion, you’re in luck. Citrus County Florida is blessed with three incredible paved trails including the 46 mile Withlacoochee State Trail–dotted with forest, lakes and small towns–and still more miles of rugged Mountain Bike trails weaving through the Withlacoochee State Forest and Crystal River Preserve State Park. It’s your choice, get away from it all or pedal into town for that latte you just have to have.
Birding is one of the world’s fastest-growing sources of outdoor recreation. And birding in Citrus County is always an extremely rich experience. Consider the unusual sight of a flock of whooping cranes following an ultralight aircraft to winter quarters in Citrus County. Don’t miss the famous Ellie Shiller Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park Or enjoy the constant presence of waterfowl in the salt marshes. Many Citrus County public parks and preserves have huge avian populations.
Crystal River and Citrus County are at the transition point where the sub-tropical climate of Florida and the temperate climate of North America briefly overlap. This convergence of climates combined with abundant habitat including fresh and saltwater and upland forest make Citrus County a paradise for migrating and resident birds. You won’t believe the variety and abundance of species, including the extremely rare Red-cockaded Woodpecker, when you know just where to look
The World Wildlife Fund calls it One of the 10 Coolest Places You’ve Never Been in North America. The Withlacoochee State Forest is Florida’s third largest state forest with thousands of acres of trails, terrain and caves to explore. And that’s only the start. The Crystal River Preserve State Park ranges over thousands of acres of coastline while the Withlacoochee River Preserves wander through the intricate labyrinthine world of the freshwater Tsala Apopka Chain of Lakes. Wilderness has the power to revitalize and open vast horizons within. So get out there and explore!
Wherever you stay in Citrus County, you’re only a short drive—maybe even a chip or putt—from a wide variety of courses ideal for every taste, skill level and budget. The area boasts a number of highly rated public courses, plus semiprivate courses that welcome guests and a many respected private courses and clubs.
Our golf courses are renowned for the quality of the grounds and the wealth of natural scenery and wildlife that can be observed while playing. Come explore Citrus County one spectacular hole at a time, and enjoy a golf getaway of nonstop swinging excitement! Or add a round to an exciting itinerary of sportfishing, kayaking, manatee watching and all the other aquatic adventures available in The Water Lover’s Florida. Either way, you can expect a course in excellence.
You’ll find an abundance of great food choices on your trip to Crystal River & Florida’s Citrus County. Seafood including fresh seasonal crab abounds in Homosassa, Ozello and Crystal River often coming in right off the boat. Walkable Downtown Inverness is a hip dining scene with a cluster of creative homey restaurants, pubs and shops that make for a fun evening out. Go down any road though and you’ll find “can’t miss” favorites like Cuban and Thai and traditional favorites like our exceptional southern Barbeque and the classic American burger.
There’s a little something for everyone and every taste here with original style and unique character. Whether it’s the multitude of shops and café’s on Crystal River’s Citrus Avenue, the welcoming and carefree sidewalks of Downtown Inverness or the stunning choice of galleries in both Old Homosassa and Floral City, new surprises and delights appear in every window and through every doorway. And, in case you forgot that one familiar item you just have to have, no worries, you’ll also find the well-known names you rely on back home.
Explore the incredible! From wintering manatees in the crystal-clear waters of Three Sisters Springs to the underwater observatory and native Florida wildlife at Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park, you will be amazed at the splendor of natural Florida that’s so easily accessible in Florida’s Citrus County. See and feel America before Columbus at Crystal River Archaeology State Park or fly through the forest like a very fast bird on the zip lines at FloridaTree-top Adventure.
The fun and festivities continue throughout the year from the Florida Manatee Festival in January, to spring’s Floral City Strawberry Festival, and the Great American Cooter Festival and Homosassa Arts, Crafts and Seafood Festivalin fall. What’s coming up next?
President Grover Cleveland, who served two terms in office in the late 1800s, liked Citrus County well enough to designate the place he stayed as “the Winter White House.” Other notable visitors include Winslow Homer, Ted Williams, and Elvis Presley. But all of those fine folks were latecomers compared to the Native Americans who drifted into Citrus County starting around 200 BC, for trading, gathering wild plants, collecting shellfish and exploring.
For information call (800) 587-6667 or go to http://www.discovercrystalriverfl.com