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About Crystal River

The city of Crystal River lies in Citrus County, Central Florida, some 90 miles from Tampa. This tranquil area has become known as the ‘Home of the Manatee’ and attracts outdoors enthusiasts all year round.

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About Crystal River

The area surrounding Crystal River was once settled by Native Americans, and today you can see the remains of these settlements at Crystal River Archaeological State Park. Later, the turpentine industry and cedar mills boosted the town’s economy, and the arrival of the railway in the late 1800s started to draw visitors to the area, as Crystal River expanded into the city it is today.

Manatees remain the main draw for visitors, and this is the only place in the US that you can legally swim with them. With over 70 springs in Kings Bay, the 72-degree spring fed water maintains a constant temperature that is ideal for sheltering manatees from November to March.

While you’re here, make sure to dine on Southern specialties like mac and cheese and shrimp and grits. Fish and seafood is on the menu at most restaurants, with a focus on fresh, locally-sourced ingredients.

What to do

Swimming with the manatees is the main attraction for visitors to Crystal River. Visit the boardwalks at Three Sisters Springs to spot them, go stand-up paddle boarding, snorkeling, kayaking or simply enjoy a swim with these gentle giants.

Diving is also popular here, and Kings Bay is one of Florida’s leading scuba dive destinations, with the Gulf of Mexico and the Great Florida Aquifer on your doorstep.

Uncover local history at the Archaeological State Park. This 61-acre Native American ceremonial site is located on the shores of the river, with burial mounds and a small museum to explore. Alternatively, take the kids to Chassahowitzka National Wildlife Refuge, where you can spot black bears, alligators, raccoons, bobcats and more.

The focus here is on outdoor activities, and Crystal River is a great place for hiking, camping, fishing, golfing and biking.

Top Crystal River travel tips

The nearest airports are Gainesville Regional Airport (68 miles) and Tampa International Airport (74 miles).

The climate in Crystal River is hot and humid, and the temperature rarely drops below 31 degrees fahrenheit all year round! Summer is the most popular time to visit, although if you’re dreaming of swimming with the manatees, the best time to come is between November and March.

Golfers will find no less than nine golf courses in the area, suitable for players of all abilities.

Whatever outdoor activities you love, you’ll find plenty of fun for the whole family in Crystal River. Swimming with the manatees is an experience you’re never going to forget!

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