City Profile: Crystal River


Get ready to see some manatees in the Crystal and Homosassa Rivers.

Crystal River, about an hour north of Tampa Bay, is an unspoiled playground. Most noteworthy, Crystal River is home to the largest herd of endangered manatees in the U.S., congregating primarily in the beautiful Crystal and Homosassa Rivers. They can be seen by engaging local guide services for a boat or up-close snorkel encounter. These gentle giants average 10 feet long and 1,200 pounds.

Crystal River is also famous for its flats fishing where redfish, sea trout, tarpon and mackerel are abundant. Grouper are great favorites in the deeper waters. Local fishing guides can outfit individuals or groups. The nearby islands of Kings Bay are perfect for scuba diving as well, but are mostly accessible by boat only.

About 20 minutes south of Crystal River is Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park, where visitors can see the rare whooping crane, deer, bears, bobcats, egrets and flamingos along unspoiled nature trails as well as captive manatees in an underwater observatory.

Just east of Crystal River is Inverness, which is nestled along the banks of the 22-mile Tsala Apopka lake chain, famous for large-mouth bass and specks. Inverness is home the Withlacoochee State Forest where avid bird enthusiasts will find the largest colony of Red Cockaded Woodpeckers in peninsular Florida. The Withlacoochee State Trail traverses the east side of the county and provides an unimpeded paved path for bikers, hikers and skaters.

This area is rich in history. Pre-Columbian mound builders (evidence can be seen at the Crystal River Archaeological State Park, Spanish explorers, President Grover Cleveland, artist Winslow Homer, baseball's Ted Williams, the fully restored 1912 Courthouse & history museum, National Register Historic neighborhoods, and even Elvis Presley are a part of Citrus County's history and present day lore.
There are festivals and events galore in Citrus County. Annual happenings include the Florida Manatee Festival, Homosassa Arts, Crafts, and Seafood Festival, Floral City Strawberry Festival, Cooter festival, theatre, concerts, and lectures - something for every interest!

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