Crystal River is a coastal city in western Florida. Kings Bay, which is fed by springs, is home to the Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge, sheltering manatees year-round. Boardwalks at Three Sisters Springs Wildlife Refuge offer views of the marine mammal and the natural springs. Northwest is Crystal River Archaeological State Park, with remains of an early Native American settlement, including ceremonial mounds.
The Heart Of Florida’s Nature Coast
Crystal River is centrally located in the heart of Florida’s Nature Coast. It offers so many opportunities to get out and have a relaxing day or spend the entire weekend looking at and taking photos of all that nature has to offer. But it’s not all about nature.
There are plenty of local shops with art and other great finds. There are annual Art festivals, social events, and entertainment.
You’ll find plenty of eateries and a few places to get an adult beverage. The three main areas of interest are, three sisters springs, Kings bay and of course the manatees.
Here are some fun facts. Crystal River is a city in Citrus County, Florida, United States. The population was 3,108 in the 2010 census. (3,485 in 2000). According to the U.S Census estimates of 2012, the city had a population of 3,055. The city was incorporated in 1903 and is the self-professed “Home of the Manatee”. Crystal River Preserve State Park is located nearby, and the Crystal River Archaeological State Park is located in the city’s northwest side.
The city is situated around Kings Bay, which is spring-fed and so keeps a constant 72 °F (22 °C) temperature year-round. A cluster of 50 springs designated as a first-magnitude system feeds Kings Bay. A first-magnitude system discharges 100 cubic feet or more of water per second, which equals about 64 million gallons of water per day. Because of this discharge amount, the Crystal River Springs group is the second-largest springs group in Florida, the first being Wakulla Springs in Wakulla County near Tallahassee.
Kings Bay can be home to over 400 manatees during the winter when the water temperature in the Gulf of Mexico cools and is the only place in the United States where people can legally interact with them in their natural conditions without that interaction being viewed as harassment by law enforcement agencies. Tourism based on watching and swimming with manatee is the fastest growing contribution to the local economy. In 2005 there was a movement to dissolve the city which did not succeed, and the city has since grown by annexation.
In 1845, Florida became a state
When Florida became a state in 1845, what is now Citrus County was just beginning to see settlement by a few hardy pioneers. It was part of Hernando County in those days. The principal landowner was David Yulee, a U.S. Senator who developed a large sugar plantation on the Homosassa River. He lived there all during the 1850s but lost everything when Yankee soldiers raided and burned his home, called Margarita on Tiger Tail Island, during the Civil War. His sugar mill is still standing and has been made a state park.
Crystal River is a top destination for many that are wanting to the true essence of old Florida. But for most, it’s all about swimming with or simply taking a close look at the Manatees. When the water temperature drops in the Gulf of Mexico, manatees move to the warmer waters of the Crystal River, followed closely by nature-loving tourists and other visitors. Located along Central Florida’s “Nature Coast,” Crystal River is one of the few places where you can swim with manatees. The springs flow at a constant 72 degrees, making the waters attractive to all sorts of swimmers in the winter.
Crystal River has also been named one of the top 50 charming cities in America. They’re also a lot of great activities that are in the water and out. There is no shortage of things to do.
Consider Moving Here
You may consider moving here. It’s a peaceful environment with things to do outside. There are no large malls of corporate high rises. But, what there are parks, fishing, boating, camping, hiking and just relaxing.
If you are looking for either a new place to call home, or you are looking for something to call “ a Get-away” come visit the crystal river. You may find that it offers all the things you are looking for. I would recommend get a room at one of the many local hotels or pick up a short term rental. The beautiful thing about this area is that you can always hop in the car and drive a couple of hours and be at Disney, Busch Gardens and the Space Center. Or what I would suggest is that you visit some of the other areas on Nature’s coast so that you get a true understanding of what this area has to offer.
I have been in this area for over 30 years and every year I find something new to look at and experience. As a local photographer, I’m constantly looking at the area of the state that I can get great photos from. And in all honesty, this coast is one of my favorites. Growing up on the East coast of Florida there were sunrises and surf. Like on Nature’s coast, there’s always plenty of activities on the water. But with this coast there are springs, the fishing is good and it’s simply a little slower.
Come Visit Before Everything Changes.
With anything, there’s always change. And with people like me putting a light on this area, it only seems to reason that more will come, and the more that come, the faster the growth. With growth comes the eventual destruction of what made it hat it is today.
With that I would say, come and visit. It’s like everywhere in Florida. Growth keeps coming. Florida is the fast-growing state in the country. We are also the third-largest in population. So with that in mind put Florida’s Nature Coast on your bucket list you won’t regret it.