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Best things to do in Crystal River

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Where in the world: USA  /  Florida  /  Crystal River

Top 15 things to do in Crystal River

1. Scuba & Snorkeling

Meet manatees and other creatures calling Crystal River their residence on a guided tour, conducted by informative and helpful guides who can take you to places where you can swim and interact with the marine life. Next to these and other marine species--such as dolphins and sea turtles--you may catch a glimpse of pelicans, great blue herons, and more wading birds. Don't forget to bring swimsuits and towels on board--snorkel gear, life jackets, and swim "noodles" are available on the boat. Most tours cater to small groups of maximum six people and last between two and four hours. Children are welcome to come along under parental supervision.
Suggested duration: 3 hours
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2. Three Sisters Springs

Three Sisters Springs are located on the Crystal River, in Citrus County, Florida, United States, at 28.888725°N 82.589191°W / 28.888725; -82.589191. They are in a natural inlet on the east side of Kings Bay. They contain three spring areas that contain many sand boils and vents. The land surrounding the springs is privately owned property and there is no landfall or boat tie-up permitted; the only access to the springs is blocked by concrete posts to stop the boats from entering. Only kayaks, canoes, and swimmers are permitted in the area. Three Sisters Springs is also home to many manatees and is one of the Crystal River's sanctuaries.
Three Sisters springs is also accessible by land. The property around Three Sisters was acquired in 2010 and is open to the public from November 15 through March 31.

In adherence to the mission of protecting and preserving the manatee and its habitat, the areas around the springs have been designated as manatee sanctuaries and are closed to vessels from November 15 through March 31. However, swimmers are able to enter the spring from the water during this time with possible periodic discretionary closures due to manatee behavior. Visitors can view the manatees in their natural setting from land by use of the observation boardwalk overlooking the spring. Many dive shops and marinas in the city of Crystal River offer manatee tours and cater to the needs of divers and snorkelers.
Suggested duration: 2 hours
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3. Kayaking & Canoeing

Explore the wildlife of Florida's Nature Coast on a kayaking or canoeing tour around Crystal River, the only place in the country where you can interact with manatees in their natural environment. You can opt for a self-guided or a guided tour (which usually include paddling lessons and in-water photographer)--shuttle service and equipment are included in the offer either way. Most trips last a couple of hours.
Suggested duration: 3 hours
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5. Fort Island Gulf Beach

Suggested duration: 2 hours
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6. Nature & Wildlife Tours

Meet endangered manatees on a guided nature and wildlife tour from Crystal River. Joining up with a crew of seasoned professionals will provide access to equipment for snorkeling and information about these friendly marine mammals. You'll be able to swim and snorkel among them, simultaneously discovering their natural habitat. Besides manatees, you'll also likely spot dolphins and a variety of local birds from backwater salt marshes. Adult supervision for children is often the only restriction fro these 1-to-4-hour tours, which makes them ideal for nature lovers of all ages.
Suggested duration: 3 hours
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7. Plantation Inn and Golf Resort

Suggested duration: 2 hours
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9. Crystal River Archaeological State Park

Crystal River State Archaeological Site is a 61-acre (250,000 m2) Florida State Park located on the Crystal River and within the Crystal River Preserve State Park. The park is located two miles (3 km) northwest of the city of Crystal River, on Museum Point off U.S. 19/98.

Under the title of Crystal River Indian Mounds, it is also a U.S. National Historic Landmark (designated as such on September 29, 1970).
Suggested duration: 2 hours
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10. Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge

The Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge is part of the United States National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) System, located in Kings Bay, in the town of Crystal River, and consists of 20 islands and several small parcels of land. The 80-acre (32 ha) refuge (only accessible by boat) was established in 1983, to protect the West Indian manatee.

Suggested duration: 2 hours
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12. Chassahowitzka National Wildlife Refuge

The Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge Complex includes 5 refuges located along Florida's Gulf Coast.

Crystal River NWR was founded in 1983 for the protection of the endangered West Indian Manatee. Located in Crystal River, FL, the refuge manages several islands and winter manatee sanctuaries located within the spring-fed waters of Kings Bay. The refuge currently boasts the world's largest concentration of manatees within a natural winter habitat, with densities exceeding 550 manatees on extremely cold days.

Chassahowitzka NWR was established in 1943 for waterfowl conservation. This 31,000 acre refuge protects satwater bays, estuaries, brackish marshes, and hardwood swamps in Homosassa, FL. In 1970, the refuge lands within Citrus County were designated Wilderness.

Established in 1974, Egmont Key NWR is located at the mouth of Tampa Bay and offers a unique blending of natural and cultural resources. Once known as Fort Dade Military Reservation, the 300 acre island is now managed by the USFWS and the Florida State Park Service. Two large bird sanctuaries protect habitat for more than 30,000 pairs of nesting birds. Eastern box turtles and gopher tortoises thrive on the island, and loggerhead turtles come ashore to nest on the island's sandy beaches each summer.

Pinellas NWR was established in 1951 and protects seven mangrove islands for colonial waterbirds. All of these refuge islands are closed to public use to prevent disturbance to nesting, wintering, and migrating birds.

Passage Key was established by President Theodore Roosevelt in 1905 to preserve nesting colonies of native seabirds and wading birds. This island was 60 acres in the early 1900s, however a series of storms eroded the island and today it is merely a low-lying sandbar that fluctuates in size.
Suggested duration: 2 hours
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13. Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park, Homosassa Springs

See Florida's animal species in their natural habitat at Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park. After reaching the visitor center, you can take a scenic boat ride to the center of the park, or opt for a shorter tram ride. The park is dedicated to the preservation of local wildlife, including a variety of birds and smaller animals, as well as bears, deer, otters, alligators, and crocodiles. It is also the center of the renowned manatee preservation program, and these gentle giants are the park’s star residents. See the manatees up close thanks to the underwater observatory. On warm days, you can pet and feed the manatees, but on cold days they stay submerged to preserve their heat.
Suggested duration: 2 hours
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14. Yulee Sugar Mill Ruins Historic State Park

Yulee Sugar Mill Ruins Historic State Park is a Florida State Park located in Homosassa, off U.S. 19. It contains the ruins of a forced-labor farm owned by David Levy Yulee. Yulee was an enslaver and a delegate of the Florida Territorial Legislative Council. After Florida became a state, he was elected by the legislature in 1845 to the United States Senate, becoming the first American of Jewish heritage to serve there. After Florida seceded from the Union, Yulee served in the Confederate Congress. He is credited with having developed a network of railroads that tremendously boosted the state's economy.

At Homosassa, Yulee established a farm of some 5,000 acres (2,000 ha) worked by about 1,000 enslaved African Americans. They raised sugarcane, citrus, and cotton. The large mill (which was steam-driven) ran from 1851 to 1864. It produced sugar, syrup and molasses, the latter used in making rum. The farm supplied confederate soldiers with sugar products and was largely destroyed during the American Civil War.
At the park, the stonework (foundation, well and 40-foot chimney) of the mill, iron gears, a cane press, and some of the other machinery remain. The site was added to the National Register of Historic Places on August 12, 1970.
Suggested duration: 2 hours
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15. Kayaking & Canoeing, Dunnellon

Suggested duration: 2 hours
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