There are so many things to do at Crystal River Florida that there’s not enough time to see and experience even in a week! From swimming with the manatees, to fishing and diving for scallops to exploring the vast ecological preserves. Crystal River visitors can even take in a round of golf. The multitude of things to do makes this Nature Coast town one of the most adventurous Florida destinations for nature lovers!
Crystal River, Florida is one of the best winter destinations in the U.S. Especially for those who enjoy the great outdoors and everything to do with sunshine and 75 (degrees)!
In fact, Crystal River is world known as the Gem of the Nature Coast! But, also, this Florida coastal town is considered the Manatee Capitol of the World.
But what draws the snowbirds, tourists and the manatees to the Florida coast?
This blog article contains affiliate links. We may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you so we can continue to create more FREE RV, Camping, Outdoor and Travel information, advice and tips. Thank you, we appreciate your support! Full disclosure here.
Things to do at Crystal River, Florida
Crystal River Travel Guide
About Crystal River, Florida
Crystal River is located on the Gulf side of Florida’s Nature Coast. This west-central coastal community, named after the river on Kings Bay, is a natural wonder all its own.
Over 70 springs and 40 seeps feed over 600 million gallons of crystal clear fresh water into Kings Bay daily.
Homosassa Spring, feeding nearby Homosassa River, is a second largest spring that produces over 50 million gallons. Also, the Chassahowitzka River is fed by several smaller springs.
But what brings visitors from all over the world to Crystal River Florida?
There’s a plethora of reasons from the warm Three Sisters Springs to the incredible ecological wonders of Homosassa, Crystal River Preserve State Park and Crystal River Archeological State Park.
And we can’t forget to mention that the town of Crystal River, itself, also plays host to many cool events and festivals throughout the year. Most notably, the Florida Manatee Festival is held every January.
So, let’s see why the Crystal River Florida region should be your next gulf coast destination!
See the Manatees!
Crystal River, Florida is hands down, one of the best places to get an up close and personal view of the manatees, also known as Sea Cows. It’s no wonder these gentle and slow-moving aquatic mammals are the star of the show.
Crystal River is the site of the largest gathering of manatees in North America. In fact, over 1000 of Florida’s 6000 manatees take refuge in Crystal Springs alone each winter.
Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge is the only place in America that’s all about protecting and preserving a single species.
When the Gulf waters dip below 65 degrees, the manatees slowly make their way to Crystal River and the springs in Kings Bay where it’s a constant 72 degrees. It’s the number one reason why the manatees love to spend their winters here between mid November until late March.
And, there’s several ways you can see the manatees from the shore. Be aware, you can get the best views on bright sunny days.
Two of the best places we’ve found to view the manatees at Crystal River are at King Spring on Banana Island’s southern tip and Three Sisters Springs Boardwalk.
Notably, most manatees lose interest in people starting about 9:00 a.m. when they head for deeper waters and start grazing for the day.
So, if you really want to see the manatees, you’ll need to set your alarm to be at the viewing points around 6:00 a.m.
Or, you can take an afternoon manatee viewing cruise when the manatees are heading back to the warm shallow springs.
Swim & Snorkel
You can get a great view of the manatees close to shore or by boat. But if you’re really adventurous, you can get even closer to them in the water!
Crystal River has the only legal swim-with manatee program in the Country. Visitors can passively observe the mammals in their natural habitat by taking a snorkel with the manatees tour!
Be aware though, while you may swim with the manatees, you cannot touch, ride, interrupt or impede their feeding or movements. Even slightly touching a Manatee can change their behavior and migration routes.
Also, it’s important to follow the leave no trace principles which includes never removing, uprooting or damaging any of the sea grass as it’s the primary diet of the manatees.
If you prefer not to get into the water, you can still get an up close and personal view of the manatees. You and your family can rent clear bottom kayaks! Just watch them swim right under your boat!
✰ READ MORE ✰ Best Places to See Manatees in Florida (and Swim with them too!)
Now, if you’re just looking for a relaxing swim, we highly recommend Crystal River’s Hunter Spring Park and Fort Island Gulf Beach. The beautiful sandy beach at Fort Island also offers fishing, or you can take stroll on the boardwalk and sightseeing pier.
If you’re looking for swimming pools instead, look into Crystal River’s Bicentennial Park, Whispering Pines Park in Inverness (pool and splash pad), or the Citrus County YMCA in Lecanto.
Kayak, Paddle Board, Water Bike
Speaking of kayaks, Crystal River is a paddler’s dream! It’s the ideal location to enjoy nature while getting in a little sunshine and exercise.
The City of Crystal River offers several incredible parks, boat ramps, the Kings Bay Riverwalk and the Cross Town Trail to enjoy nature and water activities. You can bring your own kayak, canoe or paddle board. Or you can rent a kayak for a few hours.
City Boat Ramps are located at 1 SW 1st Place (at Pete’s Pier) and at 558 NW 3rd Avenue (just north of City Hall). There is a launch fee that you pay at one of the meters. The ramps and launches are patrolled by Park Rangers throughout the day.
Hunter Springs and Kings Bay Parks have FREE kayak launch zones. However, after unloading your kayaks, you will have to pay for parking.
If you want to try something new, water bike rentals and paddle board rentals are other cool ways to traverse the water while getting some Florida sunshine and exercise.
Dive for Scallops
If you’re a summer visitor and you love scallops, you’re in for a cool underwater adventure as well as a delicious treat!
The small Bay Scallop is found in the warm, shallow waters in the Gulf of Mexico. Most successful recreational scalloping in Citrus County occurs on and around the eelgrass beds between the Crystal and Homosassa rivers.
Scalloping season begins early July until early September. You’ll be chartered about 2-3 miles from shore in the gulf.
So, bring your swimsuit, snorkel gear and a removable floatation buoy to enjoy this underwater adventure! You can dive down to the scallops and return to your floatation device, allowing you to conserve energy and help prevent accidental drowning. Don’t forget to take your dive mesh bag for your catch.
But, if you’re scalloping with a tour operator, you’ll only need to wear your swim suit, quick dry beach towel and boat bag. Most tour operators provide everything else you’ll need, including a license when you arrive. However, always call and check with your tour operator to verify.
Crystal River Scallop Diving and Offshore Fishing Charters
- Captain Mark Zorn – 5192 S Riverview Circle, Homosassa, FL 34448 – (352) 400-1925
- Cast N Reel Fishing Charters – 1321 Amerindian Ct W, Crystal River, FL 34429 – (407) 350-8722
- Crystal River Guide Service – 9757 W Smokey Land, Crystal River, FL 34429 – (352) 322-6660
- Crystal River Kayak Company & Dive Center – 1422 SE US Hwy 19, Crystal River, FL 34429 – (352) 795-2255
- Explorida – 525 N Citrus Avenue, Crystal River, FL 34428 – (352) 423-3798
- Fantasy Fisherman – Captain Aaron Shields – 7079 W Grant Street, Homosassa, FL 34448 – (352) 302-1831
- Florida Fishing Adventures – Pete’s Pier Marina, 1 SW 1st Place, Crystal River, FL 34429 – (352) 601-1963
- High Octane Fishing – 900 N Appalachian Terrace, Crystal River, FL 34429 – (352) 212-5070
- KD Outdoors Fishing Charters – Crystal River, Florida 34429 – (772) 882-8932
- Reel Florida Fishing Charters – 1 SW 1st Place, Crystal River, FL 34428 – (352) 634-4002
✰ OUTSIDER TIP ✰ After your scalloping adventure, you can bring your catch to a local restaurants that will cook it for you!
As we’ve mentioned, Crystal River is one of the most popular destinations for fishing in Florida.
The coast offers some great fishing charters; both inshore and offshore or deep sea. And the list of scallop diving charters also offer fishing charters just the same.
Fishing season in the waters of Crystal River starts in March and lasts until November. Among fish species that anglers can catch in the Spring are amberjack, black seabass, largemouth bass, crappie, redfish, spotted seatrout, snook, and tarpon.
Summer is a great time to target grouper, tarpon, trout, redfish, and snook.
According to Florida Fishing Adventures, Speckled trout are one of the most abundant inshore game fish in the state of Florida. And, Redfish can be caught year-round, but March through December are the prime months.
Crystal River, Ozello, and Homosassa have some of the best rock flats for finding schooling Redfish anywhere in Florida.
Offshore deep sea fish are ready for you to reel in near Crystal River Florida!
Just to name a few; Trout, Tripletail, Sheepshead, Grouper, Black Drum, Cobia, Flounder, Lady Fish, Mangrove Snapper, Permit, Pompano, Spanish Mackerel, Jack Cravalle are plentiful!
But, if you’re feeling a little squeamish about going to far offshore, you still can cast your lines at some of the best inshore fishing spots.
Fishing enthusiasts can enjoy inshore catches on the backwaters of Ozello and Crystal River National Refuge and Homosassa Springs. Anglers will also learn about the unique ecosystem from your fishing guide.
So, don’t forget to bring your GoPro and binoculars! There’s lots of amazing scenery and frame-worthy photos of the wetlands and their indigenous wildlife.
Inshore Fishing Charters
✰ OUTSIDER TIP ✰ Always check with your fishing charter boat captain to obtain the proper Florida State Fishing License applicable to salt water, inshore freshwater, scallop, snook and spiny lobster.
You and your fellow travel companions can explore Kings Bay in a relaxing way on the Plantation’s Kings Bay Scenic Cruise or a Manatee Viewing Cruise.
Sail around the Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge while looking for local wildlife as your cruise Captain shares the history of the area.
On these cruises, you’ll be treated to seeing more than manatees! You may even get to spot dolphins, otters, turtles, birds and fish. So, have your camera ready!
✰ OUTSIDER TIP ✰ Don’t forget to pack necessary essentials in your day cruise boat bag!
Trolley Ride to Three Sisters Springs
|Location: Three Sisters Springs Center, 123 NW Hwy 19, Crystal River, FL 34428|
|Hours: 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. (last ticket sold at 3:30 p.m.)|
|Contact: (352) 586-1170|
Crystal River visitors can enjoy a ride on a trolley to Three Sisters Springs!
Be aware though, there is no parking at Three Sisters Spring, with the exception of a limited number of handicapped parking spaces near the boardwalk for vehicles with a valid handicap parking permit. Visitors should proceed to the Three Sisters Springs Center for parking, admission, and shuttle service to the refuge.
Their one-day admission fee includes a trolley or van shuttle to and from the refuge. The shuttle service departs from the Three Sisters Springs Center and operates continuously from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm to the boardwalk at Three Sisters Springs.
Additional stops include the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Visitor Center and their gift store, Hunter Springs Park, South Citrus Avenue and Heritage Village.
For more information on parking locations, check out their website.
Golf at Plantation on Crystal River
|Location: 9301 W Fort Island Trail, Crystal River, FL 34429|
|Contact: (352) 795-7211|
If golf is your game, discover a classic Florida golf destination for all to enjoy. With 18 holes designed in traditional style, the Plantation on Crystal River golf course is a cornerstone of outdoor activities at the resort.
With a full-service pro shop, personalized instruction, and annual tournaments, discover the ultimate standout in Central Florida golf resorts.
First built in 1958 by famous architect Mark Mahannah, the golf course at Plantation on Crystal River features a series of holes that is challenging yet rewarding. Along the way, you’ll tee off beside lush landscapes and vibrant wildlife, including 14 different species of birds.
Amenities also include an outdoor pool, 2 restaurants and 3 bars. The onsite spa offers treatments, and there are 12,000 sq ft of meeting space.
An on-site marina and dive shop sells fishing supplies and rents boats, kayaks and SCUBA gear. Guided snorkeling tours are also offered. Parking is available.
And if your budget allows it, their Stay & Play Package includes one night of resort accommodations, breakfast at The 19th Hole Bar & Grill, a golf cart, a bucket of golf balls to use at the driving range, and one round of golf on the property’s 18-hole course.
This upscale 27-hole golf resort is only 1.5 miles from Crystal River Airport and a 15-minute walk from Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge.
Other Golf Courses near Crystal River Florida
- Lakeside Golf & Country Club – 4543 E Windmill Dr
Inverness, Florida 34453 – (352) 726-1461
- Sugarmill Woods Golf & Country Club – 1 Douglas Street, Homosassa, Florida 34446 – (352) 382-2663
- Black Diamond Ranch – 3125 W Black Diamond Cir
Lecanto, Florida 34461 – (352) 746-3440
- Skyview at Terra Vista – 2100 N Terra Vista Blvd
Hernando, Florida 34442 – (352) 746-3664
- Southern Woods Golf & Country Club – 1501 Corkwood Blvd, Homosassa, Florida 34446 – (352) 382-5996
- Twisted Oaks Country Club – 4801 N Forest Ridge Blvd – Beverly Hills, Florida 34465 – (352) 746-6257
- Inverness Golf & Country Club – 3150 S Country Club Drive, Inverness, Florida 34450 – (352) 726-2583
- Cabot Citrus Farms – 17590 Ponce de Leon Blvd, Brooksville, Florida 34614 – (352) 796-5500
- Point O’ Woods Golf Club – 95 S Golf Harbor Path
Inverness, Florida 34450 – (352) 726-3113
- Citrus Springs Golf & Country Club – 8690 N Golfview Drive, Citrus Springs, Florida 34434 – (352) 489-5045
- Lakeside Golf & Country Club – 4543 E Windmill Dr
If cycling is more your game, you can pedal your way around Crystal River without urban hazards.
The Crosstown Trail is a paved walking path along a historic railroad bed for just over a mile through the City. Bicycling and dog walking are permitted on the trail. There is an outdoor fitness station along the route as well.
Citrus County, Florida has three incredible paved trails, including the 46 mile Withlacoochee State Trail!
Or, for you mountain bikers, there’s rugged mountain bike trails weaving through the Withlacoochee State Forest and Crystal River Preserve State Park.
Also, the Mountain Bike Trail (Yellow Trail) at Whispering Pines Park is a one-way roundtrip 2.5 mile route through the park, with trailhead entry/exit located near the parking area of the Recreation Building.
For more bicycle trails in and around Crystal River, check out TrailLinks for trail information and trail maps.
Due to the more natural terrain and for your safety, riders should wear bicycle helmets. We prefer the helmets with intercom systems so we could talk to each other on the trail.
And lastly, if you’re looking for bike rentals or need bicycle repairs, there are several local bike shops throughout Citrus County and along the trail are ready to lend a hand.
Bicycle Safety: How to Ride Safely on Roads and Bike Trails
Basic Bicycle Maintenance: Keep Your Bike Operating Safely
Budget Friendly Bicycle Accessories – Bike Gear Recommendations
Hiking, Boardwalking and Birding
You don’t want to miss out on the countless unique kid-friendly hiking trails in and around Crystal River! The trails range from easy boardwalks to rugged trails in jungle settings.
Our favorite go to for hiking trail locations and information is AllTrails. Their crowd sourced reviews about each trail in Crystal River helps us decide which trails are for our liking.
Whether you’re getting ready to hike, bike, trail run, or explore other outdoor activities, AllTrails lists their 10 scenic trails in the Crystal River area. They include information, hand-curated trail maps, skill levels, along with photos from hikers, cyclists and nature lovers like you.
I know I may sound redundant but it bears repeating. If you take your pets, just a few pet etiquette reminders for the trail.
- All pets must be on a leash at all times.
- Pick up after your pets and take it with you or dispose of it in a proper trash receptacle.
- Do not leave poop bags on the ground or at the trailhead for someone else to take care of.
✰ OUTSIDER TIP ✰ Crystal River is known for its unique wildlife and picturesque sawgrass prairies. Some wildlife, like manatee, can be safely observed up close, but other wildlife, like gators or snakes, should be observed from a safe distance. Many snakes inhabit the sawgrasses and can swim through water.
Camp near Crystal River
If you do want to camp nearby, check out Chassahowitzka River Campground and Recreation Area. It has 52 RV and 26 tent campsites with various levels of amenities, including RV hookups, tables, grills and fire rings.
The campground also has a bathhouse, laundry facilities, shuffleboard court and picnic pavilion. To make reservations and camping fee information, call campground office at (352) 382-2200.
✰ OUTSIDER TIP ✰ For other camping locations, Check out RV Life’s Camping and RV parks in and around Crystal River Florida.
Shop, Wine and Dine
Don’t ever think exploring begins and ends in or on the water or the backcountry trails. There’s plenty of places to do a little shopping, wining and dining.
You and your travel companions can pick up a few souvenirs or score a new swimsuit at the shops. And you can take a break to enjoy lunch at Amy’s on the Avenue or an afternoon tea at the Tea House 650 on Citrus Avenue in historic downtown Crystal River.
Other restaurant favorites in Crystal River are Vintage on 5th, The Crab Plant, BubbaQue’s, Cattle Dog Coffee Roasters, St. John’s Tavern, and Kane’s Cattle Co. And if those don’t suit, there’s plenty other restaurants in Crystal River that may be just what your appetite is wishing for.
If you’re a golfer and/or enjoy finer dining, you’ll definitely want to dine at the Plantation on Crystal River. Their beautiful white buildings pose with southern charm and class. They have 3 dining venues; the West 82⁰ Bar & Grill, their poolside Tiki Bar and The 19th Hole Sports Bar & Grill.
And, if you love great wine and craft brews, be sure to visit the Copp Winery and Copp Brewery at 11 NE 4th Avenue in Crystal River.
The winery offers wine tastings. Or you can purchase by the glass, bottle or case of reds, whites or favorite blends.
Perhaps you’re more of the brew type, the brewery offers the highest quality selection of their own hand crafted beers, available on tap in their brew pub bar.
Also, if you’re up for more shopping adventures, meander to downtown in Inverness or to Old Homosassa and Floral City many galleries and shops.
Parking in Crystal River
While most parking in the city limits is free, there are parking and/or boat launch fees at Hunter Springs and Kings Bay Parks. Make certain you bring your credit card for their metered kiosks.
Cool Places to visit at or near Crystal River Florida
Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge
If you’ve ever dreamt of swimming with manatees in their natural habitat, Florida’s Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge is where to go. Established in 1983, the 177-acre (71-hectare) refuge is home to America’s largest concentration of the 1,000-pound gentle giants.
West Indian Manatees flock to the more than 70 turquoise-colored springs in Crystal River for warmth during winter. With hundreds of manatees in a small area, sightings are frequent.
Visitors to the Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge must approach the area by boat. Trained wildlife experts lead excursions onto the river for visitors to view the sea cows and snorkel among them.
Whether on a private or a group tour, visitors should receive safety instructions to give the wild animals plenty of space and admire their beauty from a distance. In addition to manatees, you may see dolphins, birds, fish, and turtles.
Though manatee encounters are never guaranteed, the refuge is one of the few natural habitats where people are permitted to swim with them.
Check out these Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge experiences:
Manatee Snorkel Tour with In-Water Divemaster/Photographer
Crystal River Manatee Swim-In Kings Bay National Wildlife Refuge
Small Group Manatee Tour with In-Water Divemaster/Photographer
Swim with Manatees – Trip Advisor’s “Travelers Choice Award”
Chassahowitzka National Wildlife Refuge
|Location: 871 N. Suncoast Blvd, Crystal River, FL 34429 Hours: 8:00 am to Sunset – Open 365 days Admission: None|
Located only 65 miles north of St. Petersburg at the mouth of the Chassahowizka River, the Chassahowitzka National Wildlife Refuge takes in over 31,000 acres of swamp and marshlands, shallow saltwater bays, and tidal streams, and estuaries.
The refuge, established in 1941, is a wildlife protected area for waterfowl. It’s also where over 250 bird species, 25 different mammal species and more than 50 species of amphibians and reptiles call home.
But, more notably, it’s where the endangered West Indian Manatees flock for refuge. And if you’re patient, you may be lucky to see several different birds, including cormorants, great blue herons, ospreys, white pelicans, waterfowl, and songbirds.
As well, alligators, otters, raccoons and an occasional black bear, turkey, or bobcat also inhabit the refuge.
However, don’t think you can just hop in your car and drive to Chassahowitzka National Wildlife Refuge. There are no walking trails or observation areas on the refuge. It’s only accessible only by boat.
While there is not an admission fee to explore the refuge waters, you will need to pony up some money to rent a boat or go on a tour boat.
We highly recommend taking part in a clear kayak tour or manatee kayak encounter on the Chassahowitzka River.
It would be wise to make advance reservations to ensure your trip. If you already have or rent a boat, know that the public boat ramps access near the refuge is limited. Also, some boat ramps require usage fees.
Boat and Kayak Tours
Adventure Outpost – Chassahowitzka River Canoe and Kayak trip
Chassahowitzka River Air Boat Rides Eco Tours
Florida Adventures – Chassahowitzka Wildlife Kayak Tour
✰ PRO TIP ✰ RV Trip Wizard helps you plan the perfect trip and their RV GPS app turns your phone into an RV Safe GPS to get you there safely. Have a question about ANYTHING related to RVing, join the conversation at any of their awesome RV forum communities.
Click here to learn more and sign up for the FREE trial.
Crystal River Preserve State Park
|Location: 3266 N. Sailboat Ave. Crystal River FL 34428 Hours: 8:00 a.m. – Sunset – Open 365 days|
Crystal River Preserve State Park is one of Florida’s most productive and biologically diverse estuaries, where freshwater from stunning spring-fed rivers mixes with the saltwater of the Gulf of Mexico.
It hosts 27,500 acres of pinewoods, hardwood forests, scrubs, salt marshes and mangrove islands. Much of the property is still untouched, allowing visitors a glimpse of what this area of Florida looked like centuries ago.
It’s a great year-round hiking, kayaking, paddle boarding and bird-watching paradise! The Preserve’s wetlands play an important role in refreshing Florida’s aquifer, making the area essential for Florida’s wildlife and human communities.
Crystal River Archeological Park
|Location: 3400 N. Museum Point, Crystal River FL 34428 Hours: 8:00 a.m. – Sunset – Open 365 days|
Crystal River Archeological Park is a National Historic Landmark. Its’ 61-acre, pre-Columbian site has burial mounds, temple/platform mounds, a plaza area and a substantial midden. The six-mound complex is one of the longest continuously occupied sites in Florida.
For 1,600 years, the area served as a ceremonial mecca for Native Americans who traveled great distances to conduct trade and bury their dead. It is estimated that as many as 7,500 Native Americans may have visited the complex every year.
Primarily an archaeological site, the park is located on the edge of an expansive coastal marsh. Anglers may catch saltwater and freshwater fish.
Also, as part of the Great Florida Birding Trail, birdwatchers observe a great variety of species.
Fort Cooper State Park
|Location: 3100 S Old Floral City Rd, Inverness, FL 34450 Hours: 8:00 a.m. – Sunset – Open 365 days|
Fort Cooper dates back to 1835. The U.S. government sought to expel Native Americans who were trying to flee to Florida Territory in order to avoid forced relocation. A year later, the U.S. Army established a temporary detachment outpost for sick and wounded soldiers at this site called the Cove of the Withlacoochee.
This dense marshy environment posed great camouflage for Seminole aligned forces. Lead by Osceola, the Native Americans repeatedly defended the fort with intense skirmishes.
General Winfield Scott and his U.S. Army force was finally relieved after unresolved encounters. Today, re-enactments of the battles take place at the fort every March during their Fort Cooper Days.
Today, Fort Cooper State Park hosts 700 acres of freshwater marsh water fowl, raptors and woodpeckers. There’s also five miles of woodland trails that provide great birding and Gophor Tortoise sightings.
It’s also the perfect place for bicyclists and nature walkers to enjoy the Withlacoochee State Trail.
Saint Martins Marsh Aquatic Preserve and Big Bend Seagrasses Aquatic Preserves
Established in 1969, the Saint Martins Marsh Aquatic Preserve and Big Bend Seagrasses Aquatic Preserve are fed by the the Homosassa and Crystal Rivers.
It consists of several mangrove islands, mud flats and oyster bars, lots of marshes and some of the most extensive fertile seagrass beds in the entire world. This preserve too, is a favorite for the manatees.
The preserve is also a favorite amongst visitors who love to explore. You can take in a kayak tour or join in a fishing excursion.
And because the water is so beautifully clear, it’s a popular destination for scuba divers and snorkeling enthusiasts.
The good thing is you don’t need a boat to visit the aquatic preserves. There are hiking trails at Crystal River Preserve State Park that allow access to the marsh and water’s edge.
Coastal Heritage Museum
|Location: 532 North Citrus Avenue, off U.S. 19/98|
|Hours: Wednesday through Saturday – 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.|
|Admission: Donations appreciated|
|Contact: (352) 257-3870 or email firstname.lastname@example.org|
If you enjoy small town history, the Coastal Heritage Museum is a great way to spend an early afternoon.
Built in 1939 by the Work Project Administration (WPA) labor, this historical building was constructed of natural limestone quarried locally. The building’s interior ceilings are made from magnolia wood.
It served as the first permanent home for the Crystal River City Government and was used by the city until 1970. It has housed the City Manager Office, the Police Department, the jail and the fire truck.
In 1986, it was transferred to the Coastal Heritage Museum under the direction of the Citrus County Historical Society, Inc. In May 1998, the old City Hall was placed on the National Register of Historic Places.
After being closed for repairs in 2000, it reopened a yer later under the direction of the volunteers of the Crystal River Heritage Council.
Today, the Coastal Heritage Museum displays an several artifacts, early era furniture and some Citrus County historical photographs.
Unique attractions include a 1927 diorama of downtown Citrus Avenue, a fish house facade, and one of the original jail cells.
Crystal River Historic Train Depot
|Location: 109 NE Crystal St, Crystal River, FL 34428|
|Hours: 8:00 a.m. – Sunset – Open 365 days|
|Admission: $3 per vehicle – correct change required|
|Contact: (352) 795-6639|
The first railroad depot in Citrus County, Florida was located on this site soon after the completion of the county’s first rail line from Dunnellon in 1887.
Constructed by the Silver Springs, Ocala and Gulf Railroad, the spur line would be continued to Homosassa with service beginning in 1888.
The Crystal River Train Depot became the center hub of the sprawling business area of Crystal River. The original depot burned down around 1900 and was rebuilt around 1901-1902.
About that time, the railroad was consolidated into the Savannah, Florida and Western Railroad. A year later, it became part of the Atlantic Coast Line Company.
In the 1920’s and 1930’s, four different trains arrived twice daily, including daily passenger service to Ocala. Rail service would eventually be discontinued in the late 1960’s and the depot.
Today, the Historic Train Depot is owned by the City of Crystal River but is maintained and managed by the Crystal River Lions Club. It’s used now for events and functions.
✰ OUTSIDER TIP ✰ If you love trains and historic train depots, check out Nature Coaster’s How Many Train Depots Have Survived on the Nature Coast?
If you can’t visit Crystal River anytime soon, join Traveling Robert as he takes us on his video tour:
Wrapping up why you should visit Crystal River
Crystal River Florida is such an amazing and unforgetable Florida destination! As you see, there’s so much to see and do that you’ll want to make this a regular winter getaway or family vacation!
Just bring your swimsuit, snorkel gear, hiking shoes and of course your sense of adventure! Florida’s Nature Coast and Crystal River awaits for your arrival!
AMAZON DISCLOSURE: This website is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.