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Spotlight: Citrus County

Make friends with manatees and bike through small towns

Once you hear the name “Citrus County, Florida,” you’re likely to envision fields and fields of lush, sun-soaked orange groves set against a sparkling Gulf of Mexico backdrop. You wouldn’t be entirely wrong—this idyllic coastal region was once one of the country’s largest producers of citrus fruit—but today it’s known more as “Water Lover’s Florida,” meaning it’s an ideal spot to kick back, splash in the surf and explore the beachfront.

Twenty different towns, communities and census-designated places are spread across Citrus County’s 774 square miles, and visitors can fill entire days hopping from spot to spot exploring the local sights. Set up camp in one of the county’s four main population centers—Crystal River, Inverness, Floral City or Homosassa—for the easiest access to the region at large. Each location offers a balance of small-town charm and comfortable amenities such as gourmet restaurants, great entertainment and top-tier tourist attractions.

Crystal River and Homosassa hug the Gulf of Mexico coast, making them picture-perfect spots for water sports enthusiasts and beach bums. The former is buffered by Crystal River Preserve State Park and features a historic downtown village area that’s peppered with a collection of heritage homes and buildings. The latter, Homosassa, is really two different twin-sister towns: Homosassa and Homosassa Springs. Each offers visitors access to some of the most picturesque scenery in the county, including the gorgeous freshwater spring from which the towns get their names.



Digging Crystal River’s Past

In Crystal River, be sure to visit the nearby Archaeological State Park. Spread across 61 acres of historic ceremonial land that’s home to ancient burial mounds and temple platforms, the important Native American complex is one of the longest continuously occupied sites in the country. It’s estimated that the site once attracted thousands of people from far and wide.

The town of Inverness is found farther inland, near the banks of Tsala Apopka Lake—an expansive chain of lakes, swamps and marshes that cover more than 60,000 acres. Inverness is the largest community in the county, but with a year-round population of 7,000 people, it remains decidedly down-to-earth and laid-back. The town is particularly popular with cross-country bicyclists. A wide selection of both paved and unpaved biking trails seamlessly connect the town’s downtown area with the surrounding wilderness.

A short distance to the south sits Floral City, once the largest settlement in all of Florida. Today, the population tops out at just a few thousand year-round residents, but the entire community is listed in the National Register of Historic Places, making it a treat to stroll and explore for history buffs. The town is renowned for its vast fields of dazzling wildflowers.

For More Information

Visit Citrus County
Florida Department of Tourism