Crystal River holidays

Crystal River holidays

Nicknamed the ‘Nature Coast’, Crystal River is perfect for exploring Florida’s scenic side. Less built-up than holiday hotspots like Orlando, this charming city is situated on the Gulf Coast, just north of Tampa. Days here centre largely around the water, so when you’re not trying out the many activities from fishing to kayaking and snorkelling, you’ll most likely be tucking into some fresh seafood. But you can’t come all this way without observing the manatees, since the spot’s spring-fed waters are one of the few places where this is possible with their constant 22°C temperature.

Things to do

If you love nature, you’ll love Crystal River. There’s tonnes of outdoor activities to sink your teeth into whether you’re looking for hiking adventures, scenic bike rides or exciting watersports. 

Fort Island Gulf Beach is ideal for lazy days on the sand. And with ocean temperatures hovering around 22°C all year, there’s never a bad time to take a dip in the water. Plus, when you’re not floating in the sea, you could be swimming in natural springs surrounded by manatees. Stretching for 52 acres, the beautiful Three Sister Springs refuge lets you observe these gentle creatures in their natural habitat - a bucket-list experience for the whole family.

If you prefer something a little more exhilarating, then the waters at Kings Bay are buzzing with activity. You can kayak, paddleboard and even go snorkelling for scallops between June and September. After all that water-based fun don’t forget to explore the Heritage Village. Here, you can catch a glimpse of traditional Florida with a visit to the museum or by simply admiring the 18th century houses. 

Nearby you’ll find Homosassa, which is another favourite for its local charm and excellent choice of waterfront restaurants. But if you’re after a detailed look into the past, head to the  Crystal River Archaeological State Park. As a former ceremonial centre for Native Americians, today you can wander its open plaza area and burial mounds.

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16 - 31℃

Crystal River enjoys long, humid summers with just over 240 days of sunshine a year. Winters are short but a lot cooler and nights can feel chilly.

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Approximately 9 hours

Tampa International Airport (TPA) is the closest major airport to Crystal River. From here, it will take around an 1 hour and 20 minutes to reach the city by car.

Crystal River is best for...

Seafood lovers: This is a great place to try locally-caught seafood. Shrimp is on just about every menu, alongside the tastiest fresh seasonal crab and scallops plucked straight from the water. You’ll also find fish dishes with a southern twist like gumbo and po’ boys.

Watersport fans: There’s no limit to the amount of watersports you can try in Crystal River. Whether you choose to hop on a boat with a fishing rod in hand, ride a jet ski or head below the surface with a snorkelling or scuba diving adventure - you can do all this and more from the city’s lakes, rivers and bays.

Wildlife encounters: The manatees are definitely Crystal River’s biggest attraction, but they’re not the only creatures worth spotting. Green sea turtles, black bears, white-tailed deer and wood storks all call this area home.

Fast facts for Crystal River

Language: English is the official language of Florida but you’ll also find that Spanish is widely spoken in some areas.

Currency: The currency used in Crystal River is the US Dollar ($).

Local time: Crystal River is 5 hours behind GMT/UK time.

Fly to: Tampa International Airport, which is 74 miles south of the city.

Flight time from UK: The flight time to Crystal River is around 9 hours.

Tourist information: Further tourist information can be found at Crystal River’s official tourism website.

Visa and health: Before you travel, check the latest advice from The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office.

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Getting around Crystal River

By hire car:  Thinking of heading to Crystal River? Then, a hire car is your best option. Not only will this give you greater freedom, it will also save you money. Arrange your rental before you travel and you won’t have to worry about the long transfer time.

By bus: Crystal River also has a bus station, with services running every weekday. Just make sure you check an up-to-date timetable so you are aware of any changes.

By boats: With so many waterways, it’s hardly surprising that boats are a popular mode of transport here. Book a trusted tour or navigate the water yourself with a rental.

Events in Crystal River

Florida Manatee Festival: This two-day event takes place in January and is a celebration of all things manatee. Held in the downtown area, you’ll find music, food courts and regular buses transporting you to the springs so you can see these marine mammals up close.

Homosassa Arts, Crafts, & Seafood Festival: Held on the second weekend in November, this must-visit event takes place in Old Homosassa. The fresh seafood stands are the main draw for many, followed by the art show and live music.


Crystal River safety and security

For up-to-date advice on travelling to Crystal River, please visit the FCDO website.

Crystal River weather

Temperature: Average temperatures range from 18 - 32 (°C)

If you want to experience the warmest weather you should head here from early to mid August, but this is also the wettest season with an average of six to nine days of rainfall. However, this shouldn't affect your plans too much as you’ll typically find these heavy downpours don’t last long.

If you want to avoid the crowds, spring is a great alternative as temperatures are around 24℃ and there's generally less rainfall. Those hoping to escape the rain altogether will appreciate November’s dry days and 20℃ averages. 

While night time temperatures in January can drop to a chilly 7°C, the winter months are the best time to see manatees. Around 500 of these wonderful sea cows migrate to Crystal River from November through till April.

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