The Crystal River Archeological Park is a fantastic place to go. Crystal River can get a bit crowded during scallop season or manatee season. The Park offers amazing views of the river from the top of the largest mound. Multiple burial mounds, middens and an air conditioned visitor’s center make up the park. Because the park is located directly on the river, there is often a cool breeze even in the hottest part of July and August. Crystal River Archeological Park is one of the more impressive ancient sites we have visited, especially considering it was rescued from being a trailer park.
The largest mound has stairs that allow you to climb to the top. The other mounds give an idea of the size of the native population for this area. Beads and other trade items show trading from the Ohio River Valley down to Meso America. A paved walking trail winds around the site. There are two stone stele. One contains a carving of a soldier with hair flowing behind him. Stop and see if you can find him! The rangers at the Park are very knowledgeable and always eager to talk about the area. There is a $3 per car honor system payment as you come in the gate. The Park is tucked away in Crystal River. It could be easily overlooked, but add this one to your GPS and head out to explore.
Homosassa Fun Things to Do! Some days we head South about 70 miles to Homosassa to visit the manatees, eat at one of our favorite restaurants “The Freezer,” and check in on Lu the Hippo. Lu is a retired Hollywood actor that was made a Florida resident by Order of the Governor to ensure he could stay in his home when it became a state park. You can also check out the monkeys on Monkey Island while enjoying a drink or an ice cream at Florida Cracker Kitchen. If you are looking for fun things to do, Homosassa may be worth the drive, just stay out of the splatter zone.
Our first stop is the Ellie Schiller State Wildlife Park where you can meet Lu and go down to an underwater manatee viewing area. It is amazing how the cool spring keeps the viewing area cool even in the summer. We see manatees in the Park even when it is not prime manatee season.
Next, on our stop is just a few minutes up the road to the Freezer tiki restaurant. It only takes cash, but does have an ATM. There menu is on boards around the restaurant. If you sit outside, you will need to come to the bar to order. If you sit under the roof, even on the porch, the wait staff will come to help. It is always busy, so going when it is not prime dinner or lunch time is recommended. Also, it is open air, even inside.
A pre-Civil War Sugar Mill is located between the Park and the Freezer is a good stop to explore some “old Florida.”
The Original Florida Cracker Resort and Kitchen is also just a few more minutes up the road. Monkey Island is right in front of the restaurant. You may need to pay $5 for parking when it is busy. A great ice cream shop is just next door.
We have kayaked with Get up and Go Kayaking in Crystal River to see the manatees at Three Sisters Spring. It is a bit over an hour trip from the Peach House and so worth it! If you aren’t up for a kayak trip, there are trails that walk you out to the overlook. Feeling even more adventurous, there are snorkel tours that get you in the water with the manatees, but be warned it’s chilly!
Valentine’s weekend each year, Steinhatchee welcomes 10,000 visitors to the Fiddler Crab Festival. A whole row of food vendors offering funnel cakes and burgers to alligator and filet mignon. Art vendors from throughout the region set up shop and you have a chance to race tour very own fiddler crab. Saturday morning starts out with a true small town