Crystal River Florida is the perfect place to visit if you’re looking to get away from it all and just relax with some fun friends or family members.
If you’re headed to Crystal River FL on your next girls getaway, make sure you keep these activities in mind! You’ll have tons of fun in this town and you’ll also get to experience some of the most beautiful natural beauty Florida has to offer.
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The Best Things to Do in Crystal River FL
Crystal River FL, or as it’s also known, The Nature Coast, is home to Crystal River and Homosassa Springs, two of the best spots in the state to see beautiful wildlife up close. If you’re thinking about planning a girls getaway or a family vacation in Florida, here are some of the most exciting places to visit and the best things to do in Crystal River FL on your trip!
1) Swim with Manatees
Crystal River and Kings Bay have plenty of public access for kayaking, manatee watching, and swimming. If you’re really lucky, you might be able to swim with one of these gentle creatures; there’s nothing quite like it.
I HIGHLY recommend booking a manatee swimming excursion where the guides are trained and know how to get you up close while keeping both you and the protected manatee (aka sea cows!) safe.
On our recent visit, we booked an excursion with Plantation Adventure Center with Captain Kipp, and our guide Jake was the best! Make sure to ask for them.
Pro-tip: Go early! While it’s not always fun to wake at 5:30 in the morning, getting out to the water before sunrise is the best way to visit these sweet, playful creatures. They’re more active in the morning and taking an excursion between 6-7 am will give you a higher chance of swimming up close and personal… meaning that close-up camera shot!
Manatees were nearly hunted into extinction but were finally granted protection under Florida law in 1972. They are huge—typically weighing between 1,000 and 2,000 pounds—and fast: they can swim up to 10 miles per hour. But they are also shy creatures, so don’t worry if you don’t get close enough for a perfect shot with your camera—but do keep an eye out!
While I do recommend the winter season when more manatees are in the springs to stay warm, local experts say that Crystal River is one of only three places where you can reliably see manatees year-round.
Nowhere else will you find more manatees than in Crystal River, Homosassa, and the waters of Florida’s Citrus County. Each winter between 500 and 1000 manatees are drawn here by three first magnitude spring systems, each with a constant temperature of 72° to 74° F (23° C). It is the most important natural warm water refuge for manatees along the Gulf Coast of Florida. Even in the warm summer months, many manatees remain.Discover Crystal River
2) Book a Fishing Charter (or go Scalloping!)
The most accessible (and fun!) way to explore Crystal River is by booking a fishing charter. Cruise around Kings Bay for an afternoon of fishing for snook, redfish, and sea trout. Bonus: Fishing equipment and bait are included, so newbies are more than welcome! Just remember: Don’t forget your sunscreen! Both activities will have you baking like a lobster while gliding across crystal clear waters.
Booking a trip with Captain Katie Jo Davis ensures you have a fantastic adventure and day on the water, and is a great guide for family adventures or girls trips! She has over 20 years of on-the-water and fishing experience along the Nature Coast of Florida. You’ll learn about Florida’s Gulf Coast, and learn new fishing techniques while fishing oyster bars, grass flats, mangrove islands, rock piles, and wrecks.
For our Galentine’s adventure on the water, I was certain we were scaring the fish away from all of the laughter, but thankfully, our group brought in quite the catch! Which Captain Katie Jo prepared and delivered to the chef at West 82 (located at Plantation on Crystal River) for a fish to fork dinner. Just a few hours after catching Redfish, we were dining on it artfully prepared and so delicious!
If you’re not into fishing (or even if you are), Crystal River is also home to some of Florida’s best scalloping. During the spring and summer months, you can book a day-long charter that takes you out into the Gulf of Mexico to scoop up scallops by hand while snorkeling or diving. But book early! These excursions fill quickly.
At night, after you’ve returned from your scalloping adventure with sunburned skin and tired muscles, take part in your own catch as a chef prepares your meal before indulging in ice cream sundaes made with sweet Florida strawberries.
Crystal River is The Gem of The Nature Coast for Fishing. A starter location for many youngsters catching their first panfish. As well as the place a seasoned angler battling it out with a mighty grouper would dream of going. The Crystal River area provides excellent fishing year-round. A combination of record-breaking Bass, Redfish, and Tarpon have been caught in the Crystal River all at the same time.Bass online
3) Bike The Depot District and Downtown Inverness, FL
The historic downtown of Inverness is full of great things to do in the Crystal River FL area. This walkable, bicycle-friendly community is chocked full of great food choices, inviting pubs, and cozy shops. Duck into Davi’s World Cycle to rent a bike and after your fill of antique stores, try the local cafes for sipping lattes. Our pick? Cattle Dog Coffee Roasters!
The Depot District is the epicenter of the entire 46 mile-long Withlacoochee State Trail. Featuring an open-air pavilion for festivals and farmers markets, a marquee water tower, and a restored 1892 railroad freight depot it links together the Trail with the spectacular lakefront parks for the City of Inverness. It’s dazzling!
If it sounds like we have our own special reasons for recommending Florida’s Crystal River area; that’s because we do!
If you recognize the name Inverness from the castle filled city of Scotland, there may be good reason. According to the late historian Mary McRae of Homosassa, Inverness got its name from a lonely Scotsman, far away from his home, who gazed upon the blue waters of the Native American-named Tsala Apopka Lake and thought the area looked like the headlands and lochs of Inverness in Scotland. Inver is a Gaelic word meaning “mouth of the river”, and through the Scottish city flows the River Ness, originating from Loch Ness. Since the Florida city lies at the foot of one of the chain of lakes in Citrus County, Inverness seemed an appropriate name.Kiddle
Where to Eat When You’re in Crystal River
Monkey Island in the Homosassa River has been an attraction since the 1960s and the best gathering place to enjoy the view is the Florida Cracker Monkey Bar. Part of the Florida Cracker Riverside Resort, this outdoor watering hole and cantina provides a commanding view of the Homosassa River, Monkey Island, and the festive river life of Old Homosassa. Even in the rain, we had fun watching the monkeys, enjoyed great drinks and delicious food too.
Located in historic, downtown Crystal River, the family-friendly KC Wine & Koffee Bar offers excellent dining, serving a great selection of fresh, amazing Seafood, Angus Burgers, Shawarma, Gyros, Falafel, Vegan and so much more!
With their amazing selection of wine and draft beer as well as craft beer, spiked seltzers, ciders, and premium coffee selection, I had a hard time choosing. Thankfully we stayed long enough to enjoy almost all of it! Good place for families, couples, or friends. I highly recommend it!
BEST SHRIMP TACOS! But I will say, the steamed shrimp looked incredible as well.
Robert and Kathleen Gill have owned and operated Shrimp Landing since 1986. Shrimp Landing is a waterfront dock/fish house handling seafood directly from local fishermen, proudly providing Fresh Quality Seafood throughout North America.
Their To Go menu offers freshly prepared fish sandwiches, fresh steamed shrimp, and more, like their delectable shrimp tacos.
Fish to Fork Dinner at West 82 Bar & Grill at Plantation on Crystal River
There really is nothing quite like this INCREDIBLE FISH-TO-FORK DINING EXPERIENCE.
While there is a full menu using the freshest ingredients to include locally caught fresh seafood, Florida beef, as well as locally harvested fruits and vegetables, you can also catch your own in-season fish and scallops which the chef can prepare for a family-style dinner overlooking the beautiful Kings Bay and Crystal River.
This locally-owned and operated roaster houses over twenty flavored coffee varieties. Cattle Dog prides itself not only on freshly roasted coffee but being a place where customers come for fresh-baked pastries,
delicious sandwiches, lobster rolls, weekend brunch with organic ingredients and farm-raised eggs, and more. I can attest, it’s SO GOOD!
Crystal River Florida is a hidden gem that many people do not know about. I was surprised when I moved here from Michigan and realized (just a short drive away) how beautiful the area really was! With pristine waters, natural beauty, and some of Florida’s friendliest people you cannot go wrong with spending your time in Crystal River Florida.