23 Best & Fun Things to Do in Crystal River (FL)

Crystal River is a lovely coastal town along Kings Bay in Citrus County, Florida. It is linked to the compact city of Homosassa Springs by the incredible Crystal River, a channel of the Gulf of Mexico.

The city’s population was 3,161 as of 2020.

Outdoor and history enthusiasts will find this peaceful little coastal town a worthwhile destination, especially those who seek fewer crowds and more trees.

There are many attractions to explore in this funky city. Visitors can see numerous Manatees in Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge, which is why the city is revered as the world’s Manatee Capital.

Three Sisters Springs is another attraction in the city, offering a view of the marine world.

Before your visit, we advise calling the restaurants and attractions to confirm the most recent opening hours.

Here are the top things to do in Crystal River, FL.

Things to Do in Crystal River, FL

1. Crystal River State Archaeological Site

Crystal River State Archaeological Site
Credits: Mary Madigan / Flickr
Crystal River State Archaeological Site

Crystal River State Archaeological Site is a Florida state park and a United States National Historic Landmark situated along the lovely Crystal River.

It is possible to reach the Crystal River State Archaeological Site from Museum Point and US Highway 19 in the city.

A vital complex of six indigenous mounds is safeguarded at the archaeological site.

These mounds are evidence of the area’s long history as one of Florida’s most continuously inhabited districts.

According to evidence found at the site, Indigenous people of the area may have traded with the Hopewell people of the Ohio River region.

The site’s mounds, plaza, and midden, which have been preserved, can be seen by tourists.

These structures are thought to have served ceremonial functions. A paved half-mile circle trail surrounds the area.

Address: 3400 N Museum Point, Crystal River, FL 34428, United States

2. Three Sisters Springs

Three Sisters Springs
Credits: Alisia Luther / Shutterstock
Three Sisters Springs

The Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge is home to the Three Sisters Springs, a group of three stunning natural springs available to the public from November to March.

The Springs are situated in a channel on the eastern end of Kings Bay. The 57-acre preserve, a significant habitat for almost extinct manatees in Citrus County, is accessible by land or water using a kayak or canoe.

It was purchased and made public in 2010. Over 1.5 miles of nature trails throughout the Preserve provide opportunities for viewing natural landmarks like Lake Crystal and Magnolia Springs.

Tourists can walk along these trails or take advantage of a quarter-mile path with viewing platforms to observe manatee populations and other native wildlife. Visiting Three Sisters Springs is one of the best things to do in Crystal River, FL.

Address: 601 Three Sisters Springs Trail, Crystal River, FL 34429, United States

3. Chassahowitzka National Wildlife Refuge

Chassahowitzka National Wildlife Refuge
Credits: Tyler Fox / Shutterstock
Chassahowitzka National Wildlife Refuge

An hour north of St. Petersburg, Florida, along Florida’s western coast, is the stunning 30,000-acre United States National Wildlife Refuge known as Chassahowitzka.

The 23,000-acre Chassahowitzka Wilderness Area is located within the Refuge, which the Crystal River Complex manages alongside the nearby Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge and the three National Wildlife Refuges in the Tampa Bay area.

The Refuge is best known as the southern wintering location for endangered reintroduced whooping cranes.

Visitors can engage in outdoor activities throughout the year, including fishing, hunting, and nature photography.

While overnight camping is not permitted at the Refuge, guests may spend the night at the Chassahowitzka River Campground, which is managed by the county.

This campground also features engaging programming and ecology workshops for schools and adult groups.

Address: 1502 SE Kings Bay Dr, Crystal River, FL 34429, United States

4. Fort Island Gulf Beach

Fort Island Gulf Beach
Credits: FotoFloridian / Flickr
Fort Island Gulf Beach

Fort Island Gulf Beach is a public beach with a view of the Gulf of Mexico, located 20 minutes from the heart of Crystal River. Visiting this Beach is one of the fun things to do in Crystal River, FL.

White sand beach, fishing dock, boat ramp, picnic areas, and an abundance of animals can be found at Fort Island Gulf Beach.

Tourists arrive early to enjoy the magnificent sunrise and the cool beachside grasslands.

When the weather warms up, you can take a bath with kids in Crystal River’s serene, emerald waters, cruise the boardwalk for relaxation, and look for dolphins, otters, crabs, and fish.

Fort Island Gulf Beach is the only Beach you’ll find in Crystal River. This little Park features a boardwalk-equipped pier, a bathing site on the Gulf of Mexico, some hiking trails, and a small beach.

It is close to the city limits and is close to the same route as the Farm on Crystal River.

Address: 16000 W Fort Island Trail, Crystal River, FL 34429, United States

5. Crystal River Preserve State Park

Crystal River Preserve State Park
Credits: Norm Lane / Shutterstock
Crystal River Preserve State Park

Between the cities of Crystal River and Homosassa, along a 20-mile stretch of the Gulf of Mexico, lies the Crystal River Preserve State Park, also known as the Crystal River Buffer Preserve. This attraction protects one of the state’s most biologically varied estuary habitats.

The attraction features a gorgeous salt marsh, mangrove island, hardwood forest, tidal creek, coastal scrub, and pine flatwood habitats. The 27,500-acre Park protects one of the most significant stretches of undeveloped coastline that has remained untouched since the arrival of Europeans.

Crucial indigenous structures are protected at the Crystal River State Archaeological Site, such as the Eco-Walk Trail features 11 interpretive posts that offer family-friendly natural education.

Recreational activities in the Park include hiking, kayaking, fishing, and birdwatching. Do not miss out on this leisure. This Park is one of the best places to visit in Crystal River, FL.

Address: 3266 N Sailboat Ave, Crystal River, FL 34428, United States

6. Franklin Anderson Gallery of Arts

Franklin Anderson Gallery of Arts
Credits: Monkey Business Images / Shutterstock

One of Citrus County’s top fine art galleries is the outstanding Franklin Anderson Gallery of Arts. The Gallery exhibits various modern and traditional artworks.

The Gallery, owned by Karen Anderson, features artists specializing in oil and acrylic painting, nature photography, pottery, metal arts, glass, woodworking, sculpture, and jewelry.

Many artists in the Gallery have won awards at national and international levels throughout their careers.

Gourd art, walking sticks, and artwork depicting the area’s famed manatee populations are other distinctive art forms used.

The Gallery hosts several special events throughout the year, such as Meet the Artist gatherings, musical performances, handicraft workshops, and featured artist openings. Exploring this Gallery is one of the best things to do in Crystal River, FL.

Address: 659 N Citrus Ave., Crystal River, FL 34428, United States

7. Hunter Springs Park

Hunter Springs Park
Credits: Steven Martin / Flickr
Hunter Springs Park

Hunter Springs Park, also known as Hunter Springs Beach, is a lovely public park along the Crystal River. It is accessible to the general public from 8:00 am to sunset daily.

Hunter’s Springs, which consists of five different spring outlets grouped within a 10-foot radius, serves as the Park’s focal point. Kayaking, stand-up paddle boarding, canoeing, and other non-motorized watercraft are a few outdoor activities for visitors.

At no additional cost, a boat launch is available at the Park. Additionally, guests at the Park can use the area’s playground or eat lunch at one of the day-use picnic spaces.

There are opportunities to swim with manatees during the springtime. Three Sisters Springs is less than 20 minutes by boat from the Park, giving you the golden opportunity to explore both sides in one day.

Address: 104 NE 1st Ave, Crystal River, FL 34429, United States

8. The Coastal Heritage Museum

Coastal Heritage Museum
Credits: Steven Martin / Flickr
Coastal Heritage Museum

The historic Crystal River Old City Hall is now home to the Coastal Heritage Museum, a social and cultural history institution run by the Citrus County Historical Society.

The structure was built in 1939 as a part of the Works Progress Administration’s construction. It housed the city administration until the early 1970s before being added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1998.

Since 1986, it has hosted exhibits about Citrus County’s early history, including a recreated jail cell and the outside of a once-used fish house.

In addition, the Museum features various articles related to the area’s early history, including furniture, pictures, and a diorama of Citrus Avenue in 1927.

A team made up entirely of volunteers runs the Museum. It is free to visit every Wednesday to Saturday in the morning and afternoon hours. This Museum is one of the best places to visit in Crystal River, FL, if you want to explore the history of this city and the county.

Address: 532 N Citrus Ave, Crystal River, FL 34428, United States

Planning to explore Florida? here is a list of things to do in Longboat Keythings to do in Treasure Island, and fun things to do in Brooksville for a memorable vacation.

9. Yulee Sugar Mill Ruins Historic State Park

Yulee Sugar Mill Ruins Historic State Park
Credits: Norm Lane / Shutterstock
Yulee Sugar Mill Ruins Historic State Park

Yulee Sugar Mill Ruins Historic State Park is a Florida state park in Homosassa listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

This Historic State Park can be reached from Crystal River via the US 19 Highway. The first Jewish American to hold the office of senator in the United States, David Levy Yulee, founded a sugarcane plantation in the mid-19th century. Its remnants are now preserved in the historic Park.

Over 1,000 African Americans were enslaved on the 5,000-acre plantation to produce sugarcane, cotton, and citrus, as well as byproducts used to make rum.

The Park still protects the iron gears, cane press, and other machinery from the plantation’s stonework mill foundation.

Public restrooms, a gift shop, and day-use picnic areas with barbecue grills are also accessible to tourists. This Park is a destination you will love to visit.

Address: Co Rd 490, Homosassa, FL 34448, United States

10. Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge

Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge
Credits: evenfh / Shutterstock
Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge

Within Crystal River, along Kings Bay, is where you’ll find the Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge. Exploring this attraction is one of the top things to do in Crystal River, FL.

The 80-acre reserve, which can only be reached by boat, was created in 1983 as a haven for the critically endangered West Indian Manatee.

The Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge Complex, which also manages the neighboring Chassahowitzka National Wildlife Refuge and the three refuges in the Tampa Bay area, currently protects 20 boundary islands and a few small pieces of mainland land.

Fishing is an everyday activity in the River, although fishing is prohibited in the Refuge’s protected natural waters. In addition, visitors can enjoy boating, paddling, photography, and wildlife viewing.

Address: 1502 SE Kings Bay Dr, Crystal River, FL 34429, United States

11. Crystal River Boat Builders

Crystal River Boat Builders, a nonprofit company, was established in 2009 to help with the programming for Crystal River Preserve State Park.

Today, the group, which works to conserve the Nature Coast’s marine heritage, runs independently, with a museum and a boatbuilding factory located alongside US Highway 19.

 Volunteers run the facility’s working Museum during specified hours every day of the week, showing artisans engaged in boatbuilding projects and educating guests on the techniques and materials used in the industry.

On display are collections of vintage hand tools and replicas of antique vessels employed for leisure and commercial purposes along the Gulf Coast.

Ensure to make bookings in advance for schools and groups of persons.

Address: 28 NW US Hwy 19, Crystal River, FL 34428, United States

12. Ozello Boats

Ozello Boats
Credits: Irina Wilhauk / Shutterstock

Ozello Boats is a well-known, family-owned airboat tour company run by captains born and raised in Florida. If you don’t know what to do in Crystal River, FL, ensure to go on a tour with this company.

They are best known for discovering ancient Mayan canoes and pyramids in Citrus County.

In an airboat, Ozello Boats will gladly transport you to Crystal River’s age-old natural features, like mangrove forests and deep cave fissures.

Enjoy countless opportunities to see wildlife, including dolphins, sea birds, manatees, sharks, fishes, bald eagles, coral, feral boars, alligators, deer, and other bird species, as you explore the new sections of Crystal River’s terrain.

Address: 2355 S Ripple Path. Crystal River, FL 34429, United States

13. Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park

Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park
Credits: Jose Antonio Perez / Shutterstock
Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park

Since passenger trains used to stop there to load cargo in the early 1900s, Homosassa Springs has been a popular tourist destination.

The passengers took advantage of the time to swim in the water and watch the local wildlife.

This 150-acre plot of land was bought in the 1940s and developed into a tourist destination offering the chance to see both native and exotic animal species.

To protect the spring and surrounding natural area, Wildlife State Park was bought by the county in the 1980s and then by the state of Florida.

The Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park is now in operation there. Manatees, along with several other species, can be viewed year-round during a visit.

The Park also has a breathtakingly beautiful fish observatory where you can see fish and occasionally even manatees that come to the Homosassa Springs naturally without getting wet or drenched.

Address: 4150 S. Suncoast Blvd. Homosassa FL 34446, United States

14. Copp Winery and Wine Bar

Copp Winery and Wine Bar
Credits: sama_ja / Shutterstock

Are you wondering what to do in Crystal River, FL? Have a taste of the finest wines in this location. Copp Winery and Wine Bar is Crystal River’s top wine bar, with more than 40 handmade wines produced on-site at the business’s Citrus County winery facilities.

Delicious blends of Cabernet, Merlot, Shiraz, Chardonnay, and zinfandel are made using only the best-imported grapes and juices, using a few production techniques, all to create the highest-quality table wines for everyday enjoyment.

A selection of quality cheeses and a small snack menu are also available in the business’ wine bar, where guests can sample various wines.

The company’s brewpub bar serves various handcrafted craft beers produced by an on-site brewery.

Address: 7855 W Gulf to Lake Hwy, Crystal River, FL 34429, United States

15. Cross Florida Greenway – Withlacoochee Bay Trail

Cross Florida Greenway - Withlacoochee Bay Trail
Credits: B A Bowen Photography / Flickr
Cross Florida Greenway – Withlacoochee Bay Trail

The Withlacoochee Bay Trail is a section of the Major Harris Carr Cross Florida Greenway, a recreational trail that is a mile wide and runs between the St. Johns River and the Gulf of Mexico.

It has separate sections for walkers, cyclists, and horseback riders. The greenway, formerly known as the Cross Florida Barge Canal, was initially envisioned in 1567 and funded for development as a canal system in the 20th century. Still, the building was delayed due to environmental problems.

After the project was abandoned in 1991, it was rebuilt as a greenway and given the name of one of its most outspoken environmental opponents.

Tourists can travel the section of the path that runs along Withlacoochee River in the Crystal River region.

Address: Florida, United States

Also check out our list of things to do in Miramar Beach , things to do in Winter Park, and things to do in New Smyrna Beach, for a fun vacation in Florida.

16. Vintage on 5th

Vintage on 5th
Credits: Steven Martin / Flickr
Vintage on 5th

In Crystal River’s historic downtown area is a unique restaurant and wine bar inside a converted cottage chapel from the 1940s known as Vintage on 5th.

Since 2009, the eatery, run by chef Aaron Davidson and owned by entrepreneurs Jennifer and Rodney Carr, has won the Wine Spectator Award of Excellence.

 It is best known for its reasonably priced menu of premium wines for pairing with Southern comfort food dishes.

The eatery serves fried green tomato macaroni and cheese, shrimp and grits, and seafood dishes made with freshly caught local fish for dinner.

About 35 wines are offered by the glass, and over 140 wines are offered for purchase in bottles at fair and affordable pricing.

Seating is offered inside and outside, including pet-friendly areas on the veranda and in the restaurant courtyard.

Address: 114 NE 5th St, Crystal River, FL 34429, United States

17. Kings Bay

Kings Bay
Credits: Kristie Gunia / Shutterstock
Kings Bay

Florida’s Kings Bay, in Crystal River, is an ideal destination for boating, pontooning, kayaking, and SUP.

Manatees may be seen all over the place because the bay serves as a safe sanctuary for them in the winter, making any duration on the water exciting.

Kayak, SUP, and boat adventures can all be scheduled. In addition, a few public launches are available for individuals who want to bring their boats.

 If you want to bring a private boat, please adhere to all rules and restrictions to safeguard the manatees.

Address: 268 NW 3rd St, Crystal River, FL 34428-4018, United States

18. Seafood Seller and Cafe

Seafood Seller and Cafe
Credits: Seafood Seller and Cafe / Facebook
Seafood Seller and Cafe

The Crystal River Mall is home to the lively Seafood Seller and Café, a New Orleans-style eatery that serves delectable meals made with fresh fish caught daily in the area.

Some of their superb seafood delicacies include Maryland-style crab cakes, fresh Florida grouper, ahi tuna medallions, and fried oysters.

Cajun selections include catfish Louisanne, crawfish étouffée, and jambalaya with chicken and alligator sausage.

Green-lipped mussels from New Zealand, littleneck clams from Cedar Key, and oysters wrapped in bacon are some examples of raw and steaming seafood alternatives.

A selection of burgers and sandwiches, including inventive po’boy sandwiches filled with items like an alligator, roast beef, and crawfish, are offered for lunch.

The restaurant’s full-service bar serves beers, wines, and liquors, and private dining rooms are accessible for parties of up to eight diners.

Address: 300 SE US Hwy 19, Crystal River, FL 34429, United States

19. Fort Cooper State Park

Fort Cooper State Park
Credits: Sunshower Shots / Shutterstock
Fort Cooper State Park

Fort Cooper State Park is another location that tells of a troubled period in American history. It is situated on 700 acres of forest with miles of nature trails.

Learn about the hardships faced by the earliest settlers of the area after having fun in Crystal River. Native Americans from Florida fought alongside US forces here to prevent invasion.

Learn about the life of Florida’s Native Americans while strolling the Seminole Heritage Trail.

The Park’s lake Holathlikaha is open to fishing and boating. Its many natural areas include picnic sites, a playground, and opportunities to see wildlife.

Address: 3100 S Old Floral City Rd, Inverness, FL 34450, United States

20. The Crab Plant

The Crab Plant
Credits: Abdul Razak Latif / Shutterstock

The Kofmehl family introduced The Crab Plant, a delectable seafood market, to the general public in 2014. It is located along Kings Bay at the head of the Crystal River.

The family, which has run a local wholesale crab and grouper market since 1995, runs all of its boats, catches fresh fish every day, and brings more than 60 years of combined expertise in the seafood industry to all of its activities.

Fish, crab, shrimp, squid, and calamari are just a few fresh seafood items available in the facility’s seafood market. The market is open from Tuesday to Saturday during the daytime hours.

The market’s restaurant serves mouthwatering meals for lunch and supper, including steamed seafood dishes, seafood appetizers, and main seafood courses, from Tuesdays to Saturdays.

Address: 201 NW 5th St, Crystal River, FL 34428, United States

21. Saint Martin’s Marsh Aquatic Preserve

Saint Martin's Marsh Aquatic Preserve
Credits: Kaspars Grinvalds / Shutterstock

The Saint Martin’s Marsh Aquatic Preserve was first established in October 1969 to preserve the rich coastal marsh, mangrove island, mud flat, and oyster bar habitat around the confluence of the Crystal and Homosassa Rivers.

This significant Saint Martin’s Marsh and Big Bend Seagrasses Aquatic Preserves complex, which protects some of the largest seagrass bed environments in the world, includes the 23,000-acre Preserve.

The Preserve provides some of the best leisure and commercial fishing opportunities in northwest Florida. It also provides opportunities for paddle board tours with professional tour operators.

 Many different shorebirds frequently visit the Preserve, such as flamingos, and waterfowl species, especially during the winter and stopover seasons.

Address: 3266 N Sailboat Ave, Crystal River, FL 34428, United States

22. Rock Crusher Canyon Pavilion and Amphitheater

Rock Crusher Canyon Pavilion and Amphitheater
Credits: carlos castilla / Shutterstock

For outdoor gatherings, including weddings, concerts, and church services, consider Rock Crusher Canyon.

A 20,000-square-foot outdoor Pavilion at Rock Crusher Canyon can hold 800-1200 people for concerts, weddings, celebrations, and other events.

The property also contains an Amphitheater built in a former rock quarry that can hold 5,000–7000 people.

Fantastic concerts in a variety of musical genres, as well as local and regional acts, have been held at this unique location.

If you’re lucky, Rock Crusher Canyon Pavilion and Amphitheater may host a concert you’ll enjoy during your visit.

Address: 275 S Rock Crusher Rd, Crystal River, FL 34429, United States

23. Crystal River Room Escape

Crystal River Room Escape
Credits: WillemijnB / Shutterstock

Escape Room is a thrilling activity that is well-liked online and by Crystal residents. It is ideal for inclement weather or cold weather.

You are sucked into an indoor attention wonder by Crystal River Room Escape, which you have a limited hour to solve.

With the help of your detective team, work in groups, break codes, help to uncover objects, and use deduction to solve the current mystery.

This mystery-solving activity is ideal for adventure lovers. It is one of the fun things to do in Crystal River, FL.

Address: 8740 SE Mayo Dr, Crystal River, FL 34429, United States

Explore other parts of Florida, check out our list of things to do in Pompano Beachthings to do in Palm Coast, and things to do in Ocala .

Plan Your Trip to Crystal River

Crystal River has a wealth of natural beauty. This region begs to be explored with its abundant natural springs that bring fresh, pure water to the surface, vast coastal marshes, dense woods, and rich history.

You won’t regret it if you let the manatees lure you to the area, but let your desire to experience Florida’s natural side keep you here for a few days.