Crystal River is 75 miles (120 km) north of Tampa International Airport on the Gulf coast of Florida. It takes approximately 1h 15 min to reach Crystal River from TIA. It's also 96 miles (155 km) northwest of Orlando International Airport (MCO), a 1h 45 min drive.
It can be reached via the Suncoast Highway, which follows the Gulf Coast in this region. It comes from Homosassa Springs to the south.
- 1 Chassahowitzka National Wildlife Refuge, 865 North Suncoast Blvd, ☏ . Over 31,000 acres of musk grass, widgeon grass, oaks, cypress, and red cedars stretching between the Homosassa and the Chassahowitzka River. Originally established in 1943 as a waterfowl sanctuary, it is now also critical habitat for West Indian manatees. Other wildlife includes alligators, raccoons, river otter, deer, turkey, black bear, bobcat, green turtles, gopher tortoises, and Eastern indigo snakes. Birdwatchers may spot cormorants, great blue herons, green-backed herons, ospreys, white pelicans, laughing gulls, wood storks, peregrine falcon, ducks, coots, and songbirds. The Chassahowitzka National Wildlife Refuge is only accessible by boat. Enforced restrictions apply prohibiting airboats, hunting, fires, and camping.
- 2 Crystal River Archaeological State Park, 3400 N Museum Point, ☏ . 8AM to sundown. A National Historic Landmark. Next to the Crystal River Preserve State Park.
- 3 Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge. One of the best places to see endangered West Indian manatees that migrate each winter along the "Manatee Coast" north of Tampa Bay. This 40-acre U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service sanctuary is a protected manatee habitat that includes the spring that forms the headwaters of the Crystal River.
- 4 Crystal River Preserve State Park, 3266 N Sailboat Ave, ☏ . 8AM to sundown. Next to the Crystal River Archaeological State Park
- 5 Three Sisters Springs, 123 NW US Hwy 19. One of the most important springs for wintering manatees in Florida. Part of Kings Bay, this group of springs is about one-acre in size and surrounded by trees. The spring is located on a 57 acre refuge in the middle of the City of Crystal River. Manatees can easily be viewed in the springs crystal clear water from a boardwalk which circles the spring. The spring consists of a narrow channel leading into an open area with three separate groups of spring vents--Pretty Sister Spring, Big Sister Spring, Little Sister Spring. There are also spring vents just outside the spring--Idiots Delight 1 & 2. The spring has a constant temperature of 73F (23c) which attracts manatees that use it as a thermal refuge from colder surrounding waters during the winter months. Each year from November 15 to March 31,In the winter, in-water sanctuary boundaries are in place limiting swimmer access to Little Sisters, Pretty Sister and Idiots Delight 1 & 2 in order to provide resting areas for manatees escaping colder temperatures of the Gulf of Mexico. In severe cold weather events, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service closes the rest of the spring complex to swimmers in order to provide maximum refuge capacity for manatees. The spring routinely shelters hundreds of manatees during these events, the record being 528 manatees on December 27, 2014. The Three Sisters Springs boardwalk is open year round. There is no swimming access to Three Sisters Springs from the refuge property. Vehicle access to the refuge property is strictly limited. Access is either by foot or by a Trolley bus operated by the City of Crystal River from a Visitor Center at 123 NW US Highway 19 in Crystal River. Admission price varies by age and season..
Other nearby attractions include the pre-Columbian shell mounds of the Crystal River Archaeological State Park, the 1852 Yulee Sugar Mill Ruins Historic State Park, and the top-rated World Woods Golf Club.
- 1 Hunter Springs Park, 104 NE 1st Ave. This City of Crystal River park features a sandy beach for swimming in Hunter Spring year round. It also includes a kayak/canoe/paddleboard launch area allowing access to Kings Bay. The park also features a boardwalk for viewing manatees and the lively in-water scene in this residential part of Crystal River. Parking fees of up to $5 per day apply.
- Heritage Village, North Citrus Ave. This shopping and restaurant district occupies the historic center of the City of Crystal River and features shops and cafes in early period buildings, some of which are in the historic Florida cracker-style. Visitors can find a variety of regionally specific keepsakes and products including souvenirs celebrating the beloved manatee.
- Grannie's Restaurant, 1712 SE US-19, ☏ . Good Southern cooking.
- The Crab Plant, 201 NW 5th St. An active commercial fishing operation on the City of Crystal River waterfront's Riverwalk; features a fresh seafood market and restaurant featuring fresh seasonal local catch such as locally caught blue crab and stone crab, mullet, grouper etc.
- 1 Crackers Bar and Grill (Right on the river itself and accessible by boat). A 30-year-old restaurant visitors should try if they are interested in the succulent sea food or nautical atmosphere. Known for their signature entrees.
- Peck's Old Port Cove, 139 N Ozello Trail, ☏ . Waterfront restaurant located in the outlying community of Ozello which features fresh crab and seafood combined with great views and a relaxed on-the-water atmosphere. A local favorite.
- Seafood Seller and Cafe, 300 SE US-19. This New Orleans style restaurant features the unique cuisine and fresh fish of the Gulf of Mexico region of the United States, particularly cajun style. A fish market located within the restaurant also provides fresh catch from the Gulf of Mexico.
- 2 Vintage on the 5th, 114 NE 5th St (Heading North on US Hwy 19, turn Left at N. Citrus Ave. Turn Left 1 Block North on NE 5th St. We are the Second Building on the Right, Directly behind the Watertower. There is a Public Parking Area Across the Street.), ☏ , email@example.com. Vintage on 5th is an eclectic restaurant in the downtown area. It is in a renovated church built in 1940. The restaurant specializes in fresh fish, hand-cut Angus beef and seafood dishes. It also serves regional Southern favorites like Shrimp & Grits, decadent Vintage Mac & Cheese and Fried Green Tomatoes, Pasta Dishes, Rack of Lamb and "Maple-Leaf Farms" Half-Duckling. It pours 30 wines by the glass and has a wine list with over 120 selections.
- Plantation Golf Resort & Spa, 9301 W. Fort Island Trail, ☏ .
- 1 Hampton Inn Crystal River, 1103 North Suncoast Blvd, ☏ . Check-in: 3PM, check-out: 11AM.
|Routes through Crystal River|
|Atlanta ← Thomasville ← Jct W E ←||N S||→ Homosassa Springs → Saint Petersburg|
|Pensacola ← Port St. Joe ←||W E||→ Homosassa Springs → Lakeland|