When Ponce de Leon came to Florida to search for the Fountain of Youth, he should have stopped by Crystal River, because a network of more than 30 springs makes up the beautiful waterway known as the Crystal River, a system that travels west for about six miles before emptying into the Gulf of Mexico.
Located in Crystal County and less than 70 miles north of Tampa, Crystal River – often known as the “gem of the nature coast,” – offers visitors a true wealth of indoor and outdoor activities, from water sports (swimming, snorkeling, swimming with manatees, fishing and boating), to hiking, bicycling, bird watching, and more.
And, oh, there’s more!
Are you and your sweetheart hankering for a romantic getaway for just the two of you? Crystal River and Crystal County have just what you need, from luxurious resorts with pampering spa packages to quaint and cozy bed and breakfasts.
If Florida to you means golf and lots of it, you need go no further than the Crystal River area. Dozens of golf clubs for all levels of expertise – from the duffer to the pro – wait for you. And don’t forget to eat. Crystal River’s eateries range from kid-friendly family restaurants and diners to fine dining establishments offering French and Italian cuisine. The area also boasts some great Mexican restaurants, as well as delis, cafes, pizzerias and sports bars. If you can eat it, there’s a Crystal River restaurant that serves it.
Are you ready to work off some of the pounds you’ll undoubtedly gain while eating so well? Crystal River and the surrounding areas offer a wealth of exercise options. You can rent bicycles and ride along the bike paths and highways that skirt the coast and lake shores. Perhaps one of you wishes to hunt for sea and river game while the other prefers a prey of the antique kind. Crystal River can accommodate you. From group or private fishing charters, the area has an angling adventure for everyone. You could go saltwater fishing in the Gulf one day and head to a freshwater lake or stream the next.
As for antiques, you’ll find shops and flea markets everywhere. Crystal River also is home to several auction houses – a great way to find terrific treasures in antiques, art and furniture. Of course, let us not forget the manatees. West Indian Manatees make their winter home in Crystal River – the 72-degree spring-fed river water is more to their liking than the Gulf of Mexico. Crystal River and neighbor Homosassa are the locations of the largest gathering of manatees in North America. What’s more, the two towns are the only places in the U.S. where you can legally swim and snorkel with the gentle giants.
Visit Crystal River soon. It’s a terrific vacation destination year round. Crystal River also has a year round population of about 35-40 manatees besides the 400 or more that visit in the winter.