Nicknamed the ‘Nature Coast’, Crystal River is perfect for exploring Florida’s scenic side. Less built-up than holiday hotspots like Orlando, this charming city is situated on the Gulf Coast, just north of Tampa. Days here centre largely around the water, so when you’re not trying out the many activities from fishing to kayaking and snorkelling, you’ll most likely be tucking into some fresh seafood. But you can’t come all this way without observing the manatees, since the spot’s spring-fed waters are one of the few places where this is possible with their constant 22°C temperature.
Things to do
If you love nature, you’ll love Crystal River. There’s tonnes of outdoor activities to sink your teeth into whether you’re looking for hiking adventures, scenic bike rides or exciting watersports.
Fort Island Gulf Beach is ideal for lazy days on the sand. And with ocean temperatures hovering around 22°C all year, there’s never a bad time to take a dip in the water. Plus, when you’re not floating in the sea, you could be swimming in natural springs surrounded by manatees. Stretching for 52 acres, the beautiful Three Sister Springs refuge lets you observe these gentle creatures in their natural habitat - a bucket-list experience for the whole family.
If you prefer something a little more exhilarating, then the waters at Kings Bay are buzzing with activity. You can kayak, paddleboard and even go snorkelling for scallops between June and September. After all that water-based fun don’t forget to explore the Heritage Village. Here, you can catch a glimpse of traditional Florida with a visit to the museum or by simply admiring the 18th century houses.
Nearby you’ll find Homosassa, which is another favourite for its local charm and excellent choice of waterfront restaurants. But if you’re after a detailed look into the past, head to the Crystal River Archaeological State Park. As a former ceremonial centre for Native Americians, today you can wander its open plaza area and burial mounds.