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Crystal River, Florida
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Bronson, Florida
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Port St Lucie, Florida
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Arcadia, Florida
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Ruskin, Florida

Crystal River

Clear water, lazy rivers and gentle manatees abound in central Florida

Swim with a manatee, hunt for bay scallops or discover the history of an archaeological site dating back thousands of years. It’s all waiting for you in central Florida’s Crystal Springs, an idyllic getaway where nature is the star of the show.

Habitats and History

While Florida is world-renowned for its famous theme parks and diverse neighborhoods, Crystal River distinguishes itself with attractions that play up the Sunshine State’s wildlife habitats and its prehistoric sites.

Start your exploration with a peak into the past at the Crystal River Archaeological State Park. Encompassing 61 acres and designated as a National Historic Site, the park is home to six Native American ceremonial and burial mounds dating as far back as 250 B.C. An onsite museum showcases exhibits detailing the history of the site and its former inhabitants. For 1,600 years, the area served as a ceremonial center for as many as 7,500 Native Americans each year, who traveled far and wide to bury their loved ones in the earth and to conduct day-to-day trade along the river.

A wooden bridge leads to a grassy island.

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Take a Dip With a Manatee

Looking for a chance to swim with manatees? Head out to Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge and its Three Sisters Springs. Experts say the best time to take a dip with these gentle mammals is during the winter months, but ecotours and other excursions promising sightings of this fascinating mammal are offered year-round. Manatees gravitate toward warm, slow-moving water, and central Florida’s lazy waterways are perfect for this species. The gentle giants can weigh up to 1,200 pounds and live up to 60 years.

Florida is very protective of these creatures and offers numerous opportunities to the public to learn more about them through educational activities. If you’d prefer your manatee encounter above water, you can always opt to see them on an ecotour or even via a manatee cam.

A woman drifts in a red kayak.

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Try Kayaking Along the Crystal River

If you love the idea of adventure, kayaking the Crystal River with a planned route is the way to go. Kayak rentals are easy to find and there are guides to show you the routes, which range anywhere from a 10-minute journey to 10 miles or more. Try exploring Homosassa Springs, Three Sisters Springs or Kings Bay. Kayaking is also a way to get up close and personal with manatees.

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