The time for spring and summer planning is now. Crystal River, Florida, Homosassa, Inverness, and Floral City offer adventures for quick getaways or active week-long vacations. Located about 75 minutes north of Tampa and 90 minutes west of Orlando, Crystal River is on the Gulf of Mexico on Florida’s Nature Coast. It is easy to access while being off the beaten path for travelers. Here are five things to do in Crystal River Florida this spring and summer:
1. Try Your Hand at Fishing
Fishing is a way of life in Citrus County, and some of the best inshore and offshore fishing guides anywhere are here, ready to share their experience with first-time anglers. These expert guides tailor fishing trips to the season, weather conditions, and desires of professional and recreational anglers. They lead the hunt for freshwater and saltwater species, with bass, sheepshead, and bluegill among the common catches near the headwaters. Citrus County is home to some of the world’s most sought-after fishing destinations, including the Chassahowitzka, Halls, Crystal, and Homosassa rivers.
One of Florida’s top freshwater fishing sites, Inland, Lake Rousseau, and the 30-mile-long Tsala Apopka Chain of Lakes along the margin of the Withlacoochee River are home to large-mouth bass, white bass, crappie, stripers, bowfin, and gar. As these rivers reach the Gulf of Mexico, anglers cruise shallow grassy flats teeming with redfish, spotted sea trout, snook, and tarpon. Offshore, anglers target amberjack, gag grouper, and other species that call the deeper waters home.
2. Chase Scallops in the Sea
Plan your visit around Crystal River and Homosassa’s scalloping season between July 1 and September 24. You can meet fellow travelers here, catching their share of fresh bay scallops.
Scalloping is a fun, easy experience, an esteemed local tradition, and a Florida family favorite. Scalloping is a family-friendly underwater adventure that requires a mask, snorkel, flippers, and scoop net. While scalloping, divers can encounter starfish, seahorses, and other marine animals. A saltwater fishing license is required unless scalloping with a charter captain, so hiring a local guide is recommended. Experienced, they take divers straight to the best spots to find scallops and provide everything needed for a fun day on the water.
3. Cook Your Catch
Citrus County’s access to water gives the dining scene much of its charm, from historic fishing operations to local favorites. Waterfront dining offers picturesque views and plenty of delicious options to fuel the fun. Fishing or scalloping in Crystal River and Homosassa often includes a unique, time-honored Florida tradition: cook your catch. Hungry visitors can enjoy their catches after a full day of fishing courtesy of local chefs. Travelers can call ahead to one of the participating restaurants before bringing in your cleaned catch, and chefs will transform your trophy into a memorable meal, complete with plenty of southern-style, home-cooked fixings.
4. Take the Path Less Traveled
Travelers can choose their own path this vacation – literally. Citrus County has a system of trails and pathways for visitors to wander. The Crystal River National Refuge offers exceptional hiking via the Chassahowitzka Salt Marsh Trails. The Crystal River Preserve State Park features the Churchhouse Hammock Boardwalk, the Dixie Shores Trails, and the Lake Loop. Further east is the Withlacoochee State Forest Trail, one of America’s top-rated Rails-to-Trails cycling corridors. The trail is 46 miles long and runs through six distinct natural communities, the historic towns of Inverness and Floral City, and small towns and ranches.
The Chassahowitzka River and the Saint Martins Marsh Aquatic Preserve mangrove islands are perfect spots to paddle for those who prefer an aquatic experience. It showcases everything wild in Florida – seven rivers, crystal clear springs, open bays, and freshwater lakes seemingly going on forever.
5. Encounter Manatees, Mermaids, and More
Homosassa is home to the Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park, one of the most visited parks in Florida. Dedicated to Florida’s native wildlife, the park’s residents include Florida panthers, American alligators, and Lu the hippo. A highlight for visitors is “The Fish Bowl,” an underwater observatory offering a view of manatees and schools of fish. The newly opened Mertailor’s Mermaid Aquarium Encounter, unique to Citrus County, is where guests can interact with various sea creatures in touch tanks and catch a daily mermaid show staged in the 15,000-gallon Caribbean Saltwater Aquarium.
For a taste of authentic local life, plan your stay for the first weekend of any summer month when the community gathers at Crystal River Town Square for “First Friday.” On the county’s eastern side, visitors enjoy exploring the Market at The Depot in Inverness every first and third weekend, bringing together more than 75 hand-picked vendors with fresh and artisanal products.
Visitors can find various lodging options, including hotels, bed & breakfast inns, vacation rentals, motels, and various campgrounds. Interested visitors can plan their getaway now at DiscoverCrystalRiverFL.com.
This article was produced and syndicated by Wealth of Geeks Travel.