Ever since learning about Crystal River Florida early last year, it’s been on the top of my travel list. Crystal River, the gem of Florida’s beautiful Nature Coast, is about a two hour drive from Tampa/St. Petersburg and they are situated around the magnificent Kings Bay, Florida Waterway which means it’s a great spot for boating, diving, swimming, fishing as well as a variety of Manatee and Eco-Tours.
While my main focus for coming to Citrus County was to interact with manatees in a safe and natural environment, that ended up being only one facet of my trip. Plantation on Crystal River proved the perfect home away from home. It had all the conveniences of the modern traveler and yet, it wasn’t over-the-top luxurious. Even though I rented a car, most of my activities took place on property, which made things extra convenient. Whether you’re in town for business or pleasure, you can (and should) treat yourself.
1) Make time for wellness
This might seem like a no brainer but you’d be surprised how many people (myself included) fully anticipate disconnecting from technology and taking it easy but who fail miserably. We live busy lives and it’s not exactly easy to forget out check lists and neglect our work emails for a weekend away. Since I was here to work, I tried my best to find a balance between doing what needed to be done and carving out alone time. Plantation on Crystal River is designed for soft adventure and wellness and it really feels worlds apart from other hotels in the area. Take advantage of the property’s isolated, natural environment by walking through the grounds or taking a boat ride.
2) Find a focus for your trip
Since Crystal River is such an ecological destination, many travelers come here to reconnect with nature and maybe even learn a thing or two about how to live a more sustainable life. For me, my focus was getting some up close and personal time with the manatees who live here year-round. Therefore, several of my activities revolved around these lovable creatures. That said, there are plenty of other ways to experience this Florida town. From fishing and boating excursions to an impressive golf course and a rejuvenating spa, there’s something for everybody here. Depending on when you visit, it’s a good idea to book some or all of your activities in advance for a stress-free trip.
3) Treat yourself to a spa day
Instead of packing my last day in Citrus County with soft adventure, I decided to take things easy and pamper myself a little. Luckily, I didn’t have to go far. The Plantation on Crystal River has an on-site spa called “Spa Blue,” which is part of the Aveda brand. Similar to other Aveda salons, the spa menu was rather extensive. In addition to their signature body treatments, you can also splurge on a facial, manicure, pedicure or get a new look at their hair salon. I opted for their Elemental Nature Massage based on Aveda’s “Elemental Nature” philosophy and aromas. While I’m hardly a spa expert, I was really impressed by the staff’s professionalism and skill level.
4) Kayak with the manatees
After my hour of relaxation, I decided to go for a little kayak ride through Crystal River. I had originally planned to kayak before my treatment but I woke up too late. Either way, the self-guided tour was challenging but not too strenuous. It’s been a few years since I’ve been on a kayak so it took a little adjusting but soon enough, I was on my way. I didn’t have too much luck spotting any manatees but I also didn’t paddle all the way to Three Sisters Spring where many of them are seen daily. Still, I really enjoyed being surrounded by nature. With maybe only a handful of other kayakers that day, I pretty much had the river to myself. Serene, indeed!
5) Chow down on local eats
Before arriving to Crystal River, I hadn’t thought too much about the local food scene but I was about to find out. I had a few meals at the Plantation’s on-site restaurant, West 82º Bar & Grill, (there’s also the 19th Hole Bar & Grill and the Tiki Bar). All entries are prepaid with fresh, natural ingredients whenever possible and naturally, many dishes include seafood. In terms of off-site dining, Seagrass Waterfront in Homossassa (part of Citrus County) boasts a great view, with indoor and outdoor seating. For something more upscale, Vintage on 5th is a must! I recommend ordering their Mac & Cheese (it’s tossed with goat cheese) and, of course, the Key Lime Pie.
What’s your favorite way to relax? Tell me in the comments below!
This post is in collaboration with Hayworth PR, Plantation on Crystal River and Citrus County. All opinions are my own.