Summer Getaway in Crystal River, FL | Discover Crystal River

Sweet Summer Getaway in Crystal River, FL

How To Spend a Weekend Away in Crystal River, Florida

As a born and raised Floridian growing up near the beach, I had absolutely no idea that Florida hosted a different type of beauty along its Nature Coast. The sun, sand, and waves were my definition of Florida, but that all changed when I traveled only a few hours North of my hometown to Crystal River.

I consider Crystal River a hidden gem among Florida’s cities. It offers a variety of activities to enjoy, places to eat, and nature to admire. You can spend a long weekend there or zip over for a quick 24-hour stay. The thing about Crystal River is that it offers adventure among its nature fueled simplicity. Scalloping and swimming with manatees are only a couple of the adventure packed ways you can spend your days. There’s also a variety of foodie faves to enjoy for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

If you’re looking for a Florida trip with friends or family this summer, make it Crystal River. There’s truly so much to discover.


Plantation on Crystal River - This resort is perfect for a quick or short stay. It has a cozy Old Florida feel and the rooms provide a comfortable home base for your trip. Plantation on Crystal River conveniently offers a bunch of activities and excursions to choose from right on-site at their Adventure Center. Snorkel with manatees, try your luck at scalloping, or even take a relaxing sunset cruise - the choice is yours.


Go Scalloping - I best describe scalloping as an underwater treasure hunt. You snorkel as you scan the sea grass for the beady blue eyes of scallops. Once you spot your scallop, prepare to scoop them up. The shelly creatures will swim away from you though, so you have to be swift. It’s actually thrilling because you never know where you might spot one. Keep in mind scallops do love their seagrass! We came back from our tour with quite the bounty, thanks to our guides at Crystal River Watersports! They even walked us through how to shuck and clean our scallops. The best part was taking them to a local restaurant to have them prepared for dinner. Now that’s what I call bay to belly. You’ll want to visit July through mid-September for your scalloping excursion.

Swim with Manatees - Crystal River and Homosassa just 5 miles south are known as the Manatee Capital of the World and they are the only place in North America where you can swim with these gentle giants! It’s truly the cutest experience. Manatees are curious creatures and will happily float right next to you. Our tour was through Crystal River Watersports and they made our experience so memorable. The tour guides were incredibly helpful and snapped underwater photos along the way. They knew the best spots for manatee sightings! You’ll want to visit between November and March for your manatee excursion.

Hike the Chassahowitzka Salt Marsh Trails - If you’re like me then you’re always looking for ways to stay active on vacation. Take a hike through the Chassahowitzka Salt Marsh Trails and get some steps in for the day. There’s plenty of nature to see between the trees and salt marshes.


Seafood Seller & Cafe - Remember when I said we brought our scallops to a local restaurant for dinner prep? This was the spot! We trusted our server’s recommendation on preparation style and enjoyed our freshly caught scallops as an app before our main meals. Seafood Seller & Cafe offers a variety of Cajun cuisine and seafood. This spot should be on your list to visit even if you don’t catch scallops beforehand. I still think about the homemade remoulade sauce that came with our blue crab balls! The fried shrimp po’boy and French dip are great. Remember to leave room for the beignets!

West 82 Bar and Grill
- I’m a sucker for a good breakfast spread! It’s the first meal of the day after all. West 82 is the onsite restaurant at the Plantation on Crystal River. They have a great classic breakfast spread to enjoy in the mornings. I heard their brunch spread on Sunday is even better. Rumor has it they host a carving station.

Vintage on 5th
- If you’re looking for a date night option, I’d recommend Vintage on 5th. They have an extensive wine list to try and if you’re a wine newbie like me your server will be more than happy to find an option for you to enjoy. For starters, the pork belly is a must for the perfectly crisp texture alone. I opted for the sesame soy glazed ahi tuna as my entree. It absolutely hit the mark on cook temp and flavor.

Florida Cracker Kitchen - This breakfast and lunch spot does not play on the portion sizes. It’s the perfect spot for some good ole comfort food after a long morning of swimming with manatees. The star of the show is definitely MeMa’s Giant Cinnamon Roll.

Waterfront Social
- Southern coastal fare makes the menu at Waterfront Social. Take advantage of their patio seating for bay views while you enjoy your meal. I loved their fish and chips and the few bites I had of my husband’s Mahi tacos.

Cattle Dog Coffee Roasters
- My opinion? A good coffee shop in a town is a must. Cattle Dog is great for a caffeine fix and the croissant breakfast sandwiches are fantastic.

The next time you’re thinking of a place to travel to this summer, consider Crystal River. You’ll be surprised by just how much there is to discover there. Read more about my trips to Crystal River here and here.

Weekend in Crystal River:
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Kahla Brubaker
Guest Contributor

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