Welcome To Crystal River, Citrus County
This gem on Florida’s beautiful Nature Coast offers visitors outstanding opportunities for boating, diving, swimming, fishing and even manatee spotting tours in an area designated as an Outstanding Florida Waterway. As well as a wealth of water-based activities, the warm and welcoming locals and a rich historical and cultural heritage make this the perfect spot for a short trip or a vacation away.
Highlights of Crystal River
- Great for: One of the most wildlife-rich parts of the Sunshine State
- Famous for: The only place in the USA where you can legally swim with manatees
- Closest airport with direct flights: Orlando International Airport is 97 miles to the south-east
- Great for: This is as natural and outdoorsy as Florida gets
- Itineraries featuring Crystal River:
Crystal River Location
Weather in Crystal River
Average temperature (°C) and average rainfall (days).
Hotels in Crystal River
The Plantation on Crystal River is set in stunning surroundings with easy access onto the clear waters of the Crystal River. Here the activities are endless, providing you with new experiences you’ll remember forever.
Things to do in Crystal River
Crystal River History
There’s a rich seam of history running through Crystal River and the wider Citrus County, with a number of informative local museums that trace this story through time.
Floral City Heritage Hall Museum
Floral City in Citrus County is home to a museum that traces the evolution of the area from its days as a boom town during the Florida phosphate mining period in the 1890s through to the present day.
Old Courthouse Heritage Museum
The Old Courthouse Heritage Museum has a range of permanent exhibits devoted to Citrus County that chart its pre-history through to the present day. Particular interest is taken in the summer of 1961, when Elvis Presley came to town to film the movie ‘Follow That Dream’.
The Coastal Heritage Museum
Located in the old City Hall building, this museum features a diverse collection of artefacts and exhibits from the early history of Citrus County. It also has plenty of old photographs and even furniture that harkens back to the days of old.
Crystal River Archaeological State Park
This 61-acre Native American ceremonial site was abandoned before Europeans arrived in America, which gives you some idea of just how old the six-mound complex must be. For 1,600 years this site served as a ceremonial center for Native Americans, with the Temple Mound still the highest point in Crystal River.
Fort Cooper State Park
In 1835, Native Americans fled towards Florida to escape the relocation being forced upon them by the US government, which wanted to expel them beyond the Mississippi River. The US Army established a temporary outpost here in 1836, but that came under repeat attacks from the natives. The beleaguered outpost was finally reinforced by the main US army before it could be overrun.
Yulee Sugar Mill Ruins
The Yulee Sugar Mill Ruins are the remnants of a 5,000-acre sugar plantation which was hacked out along the Homosassa River in 1851 by approximately 1,000 slaves. This plantation, with the mill as its centrepiece, was a valuable sugar source during the American Civil War.
Culture & Theatre In Crystal River
The Valerie Theatre
Named after the owner’s daughter, the Valerie Theatre was built in 1926 in the little town of Inverness and continues to host regular plays, concerts and special events to this day. When Elvis and the crew came to town to shoot ‘Follow that Dream’, they regularly gathered in the Theatre to view the day’s takes.
Crystal River Beaches, Surfing, Parks & River Cruises
If it’s swimming you’re after then Crystal River won’t disappoint. Fort Island Gulf Beach, Hunter Spring Park and Hernando Beach are three of the best beaches in the area, while the Bicentennial Park and Whispering Pines Park have some wonderful natural pools.
Hunter Springs Park
Worthy of a mention in its own right, Hunter Springs Park is the most accessible spring on Kings Bay. Boasting a natural shoreline and beach as well as a dedicated boardwalk for manatee viewing, this a beautiful place to kayak or swim.
Fort Island Gulf Beach
With a sightseeing pier that’s perfect for fishermen and a boardwalk, sandy beach and boat ramp, as well outdoor showers and picnic areas, you’ll have everything you need for a day at the beach.
Ecotourism, Wildlife & The Great Outdoors In Crystal River
Located at the headwaters of the Homosassa River, this extremely popular area for swimming and manatee viewing remains quiet and secluded thanks to the fact that it can only be accessed by watercraft.
Crack and Back
Another gem that’s only accessible by paddle craft, this secluded spring in the Chassahowitzka River system enjoys a hidden location in a jungle-like forest on Baird Creek.
Three Sisters Springs
This is one dip you won’t forget in a hurry. Surrounded by woods and with crystal clear waters, swimming in the Three Sisters Springs is a unique experience which should feature at the top of the must-do lists of visitors to the area.
This is one trail few visitors discover due to its tucked away location just off US 19 and four miles north of Downtown Crystal River. To find it, make sure you keep your eyes peeled for the Great Florida Birding Trail sign, which will bring you to the start of this trail. Finding it is the difficult part. You then have an easy stroll along the two-mile path that loops through meadows and into pine forest, before passing through an oak savannah and freshwater marsh.
Sport In Crystal River
Avid cyclists and those who like to take things at a gentler pace will be spoilt for choice in Citrus County. There are three incredible cycling trails to enjoy, one of which, the Withlacoochee State Trail, is 46-miles long. There are also rugged mountain bike trails to be found in the Withlacoochee State Forest and the Crystal River Preserve Park.
Wherever you are in Citrus County, you’re never much more than a good 3-wood away from the opening hole of a golf course. There are plenty of courses for every budget and level of ability, with public courses as well as semi-private courses that welcome guests.
Some the most notable courses include Black Diamond Ranch Golf, which features 80-foot limestone cliffs and a changing elevation that makes for some dramatic and challenging holes. The Highlands Course also makes the most of Florida’s shifting elevations, while the Citrus Hills Golf and Country Club features three excellent courses, namely the Skyview at Terra Vista, The Oaks and The Meadows.
Crystal River Dining
It might be small, but you’ll still find an excellent range of restaurants and eateries during your stay in Crystal River and the wider Citrus County. There’s tasty seasonal crab in Crystal River, Ozello and Homosassa, which is usually served fresh off the boat. Downtown Inverness also has an eclectic dining scene with a cluster of independent restaurants and pubs serving home-cooked treats.
Shopping In Crystal River
With a multitude of shops and cafes on Crystal Rivers’ Citrus Avenue, you’re sure to find everything you need, whether that’s the makings of a picnic or souvenirs for family and friends. The relaxed streets of downtown Inverness also play host to independent stores, while Old Homosassa and Floral City have galleries with unique delights and stores with the familiar staples you’ll need.
And, if you like nothing more than a good rummage, Howard’s Flea Market has over 800 covered booths across 55 acres with vendors selling antiques, books, clothing, collectables, arts and crafts and more. Heritage Village, with its collection of unique gift shops and shops selling other specialist wares, is also well worth a look.