When the water temperature drops in
the Gulf of Mexico, manatees move
to the warmer waters of the Crystal
River, followed closely by nature-lov-ing tourists and other visitors.
Located along Central Florida’s “
Nature Coast” in Citrus County, Crystal
River is the only place in America
where you can legally enter the water
with these gentle giants. The springs
flow at a constant 7 2 degrees, making the waters attractive to all sorts
of swimmers in the winter and spring.
Another spring pastime at Crystal
River is taking a cruise out on the Gulf
of Mexico and going scalloping.
Homosassa is the hub for several state
parks including Homosassa Springs
Wildlife State Park, where even more
manatees can be viewed from an
underwater observatory. The park is
perfect for picnics, showcasing native
Florida wildlife from manatees to
black bears to bobcats and alligators. For more outdoor pleasure, this
small town features an abundance of
spring-fed rivers, pristine waterways,
and great access to the Gulf, making
this area a fisherman’s paradise.
TRAVEL DESTINATIONS AND ROUTES
Florida’s Southwest Coast
For those seeking a more peaceful Sunshine State set- ting, you simply have to visit the opposite coastline,
starting with the surrounding Tampa Bay area and all
points south. Indeed, if southeastern cities like Boca
Raton and Fort Lauderdale represent the ostentatious
side of life, Sarasota and Naples on Florida’s southwest
coast are the antithesis.
In other words, this part of Florida is a lot more laid-
back and understated. In many respects, it’s a direct re-
;ection of the millions of modest Midwesterners who
traditionally make the migratory pattern south to Flori-
da along I- 75. So sit back and enjoy a truly relaxing ride
along the Gulf of Mexico through Florida’s ‘quiet side.’
Places to Visit