Travel Guide to Florida

Discover the Wonder of it All

- BY DONNA S. VIEIRA

Situated 65 miles north of Tampa on Florida’s Nature Coast overlookin­g the Gulf of Mexico, Citrus County is a delightful combinatio­n of charming, small towns in natural settings, spring-fed rivers and bays, wilderness trails and entertainm­ent.

A NATURAL HAVEN

The warm spring-fed rivers and bays around Crystal River and Homosassa are a natural playground for visitors and manatees alike. In fact, Crystal River is known as The Manatee Capital of the World and is the only place in Florida where visitors can legally swim with the gentle giants. While many manatees are year-round residents, hundreds more make their way to the warmer waters during the winter months, January through March. For those who prefer to stay dry, visitors can also view these docile creatures from the boardwalk at Three Sisters Springs or rent a kayak for upclose encounters in Kings Bay.

More water-based activities and adventures abound throughout the county. Paddle a kayak along the Chassahowi­tzka River in Homosassa. Relax on Fort Island Gulf Beach in Crystal River. The inland chain of pristine lakes in Inverness is ideal for waterskiin­g and fishing excursions. Head south toward Floral City for an exhilarati­ng airboat tour on the Withlacooc­hee River.

Scallop season runs from July 1 to September 24 and there are plenty of opportunit­ies to hop on board a charter out of Homosassa—one of Florida’s oldest fishing villages—to locate the best spots to scallop and fish.

Landlubber­s are encouraged to explore the 46-mile-long Withlacooc­hee State Trail, the longest paved, multi-use trail in Florida and one of the best Rails to Trails conversion­s in the USA. Cycle through ancient forests to visit the charming city centers of Inverness and Floral City.

Duffers are welcome to enjoy Citrus County’s warm climate and natural beauty

year-round at popular public courses such as the must-see Lakeside Golf & Country Club in Inverness and the World Woods Golf Course south of Homosassa Springs, which features two Tom Fazio-designed championsh­ip courses.

OLD FLORIDA CHARM

Whether you travel to Crystal River, Homosassa, Inverness, Floral City or any of the charming towns along the way, take the opportunit­y to drive along the roads less traveled to experience the true essence of this natural playground where southern hospitalit­y awaits you in a never-ending array of cafés, boutiques, galleries and museums. The Citrus County Historical Society is a wonderful resource for history buffs and the flavorful bounty of fresh seafood dishes will surely please even the most discerning palates.

 ??  ?? SCALLOPING • DISCOVER CRYSTAL RIVER
SCALLOPING • DISCOVER CRYSTAL RIVER
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 ??  ?? CAPTAIN STU’S AIRBOAT TOURS • DISCOVER CRYSTAL RIVER
CAPTAIN STU’S AIRBOAT TOURS • DISCOVER CRYSTAL RIVER
 ??  ?? SWIM WITH MANATEES • DISCOVER CRYSTAL RIVER
SWIM WITH MANATEES • DISCOVER CRYSTAL RIVER

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