I love it when I find a beautiful weekend family getaway destination that’s as eco-friendly as it is beautiful & relaxing. That was definitely the case at Plantation on Crystal River. Keep reading to discover why it’s exactly what your family needs right now.
Take an Eco-Friendly Family Getaway at Plantation on Crystal River
With everything going on in the world right now, it’s so important to take a moment to really connect with your family. We’ve been really lucky this month in that respect. First, we spent a wonderful weekend up in Amelia Island. Then, just days later, we headed to Plantation on Crystal River for another incredibly relaxing break from the “real world.”
As always, we’ll talk about all of my favorite activities and, of course, food at Plantation on Crystal River. First, though, I just want to give you a quick overview of where it is and what the area is like.
Where is Plantation on Crystal River?
Crystal River is located in Western Florida, in the northern area just a bit below where the panhandle turns into a peninsula. It’s just about a 4.5-hour drive from Miami and less than two hours away from Miami. The Plantation sits on 232 acres off West Fort Island Trail, right at the end of the Crystal River and Kings Bay.
What’s it like at Crystal River?
Crystal River is one of those wonderful places where the weather is almost always gorgeous. During the summer, it averages in the 80s to low 90s during the day and the 70s at night. Even in the winter, daytime temps stay around 70. And the sun, oh the sun! It shines about 234 days a year. Did you know that the national average is only 205 sunny days?
With the Gulf Coast just a ten-minute drive away and stunning natural wonders around every corner, Crystal River is really a hidden gem in Florida. It’s the place to go when you love nature. Plenty of state parks, the beautiful river, and, of course, those amazing manatees! The town is actually known as the Manatee Capital of the World because of all the West Indian Manatees that migrate there (about 400 of them!). There weren’t a ton of tourists when we went, either, which is so nice especially during times like this.
Now that we have a basic idea of the area, let’s take a look at all that the Plantation on Crystal River itself has to offer.
Why stay at the Crystal River Plantation?
We spent two nights and two full days exploring all that they have to offer and barely scratched the surface. As mentioned above, the Plantation on Crystal River hotel sits on an incredible 232 acres of absolutely stunning land. It’s surrounded by natural springs of Kings Bay, which happens to be one of the biggest aquifers in Florida.
The hotel itself is so cozy, comfy and relaxed. It’s not too big, but not cramped, either. Kind of like the Goldilocks of hotels. They offer three different types of accommodations, including standard rooms, rooms with a view of the water, and spacious villas.
All rooms offer amenities like free Wi-Fi, a comfy desk and separate seating area, an in-room fridge, and basic necessities like an ironing board and hair dryer. It’s all very kid-friendly and relaxed. Everyone we met was just so nice. They really do focus on Southern Hospitality.
As far as safety protocols go, they have a “Five-Star Commitment to Cleanliness.” All of the cleaning products that they use are also EPA-registered, so they’re safe for the environment while also meeting CDC guidelines for effectiveness. The staff also went through extra hygiene training to make sure they’re doing everything possible to keep you safe.
Okay, let’s really dive in (literally!) and find out what there is to do and eat at Plantation on Crystal River!
Things to do at the Plantation on Crystal River
The Plantation at Crystal River has some amazing outdoor activities for families. Most of our first full day was dedicated to our favorite activity of all-swimming with the manatees. We did do some exploring on the second day, though. So, check out our favorite activities first, then I’ll share a few other things to do during your visit.
Swimming with the Manatees
Swimming with the manatees is definitely the hands-down #1 best thing to do at the Plantation on Crystal River! It was such an awesome experience for my whole family. Manatees are very friendly. They’re kind of like huge puppy dogs!
We started at the Plantation Adventure Center, then hopped in a boat and 15 minutes later, we were in the water. We didn’t have to look for long to find the manatees, either. Just a couple of minutes, and there they were! It’s like they knew we were coming. The tour guides are incredibly knowledgeable and everything they do is about respecting these stunning creatures and preserving the eco-system. Thank you Captain Mark and Dustin for this amazing experience.
Spending time at the pool
Even after spending a day swimming in the river, it’s still nice to kick back and relax by the pool. They have a beautiful heated lagoon-style pool right on the property. It was really peaceful and mellow, with plenty of chairs and umbrellas to keep you cool out of the water. As you can see, we had it almost all to ourselves. My kids really loved that!
Exploring around the water
Our second day there, we basically just explored all the beautiful nature on the property. There’s so much to do right on the water. Go scalloping, do some fishing, walk around along the coast of the bay, or charter a boat for a ride on the river.
The following activities (and more) are also included as part of your stay:
- Golfing on their 9-hole course or working on your swing at their driving range.
- Getting a good workout in their fitness center
- Playing tennis, pickle-ball, sand volleyball, horseshoes and other active games
- Playing chess or checkers on a giant board.
Some activities, including swimming with the manatees, cost extra, but they’re really reasonable. They include things like:
- River tours and sunset cruises
- Scuba lessons
- Fishing charters and boat rentals
- Paddle boards
- An 18-hold Championship Golf Course (and lessons)
- Bike rentals to explore the area
Again, everything is really focused on relaxing or exploring in an eco-friendly way. As a member of the Green Hotels Association and Rues Selection of Eco-friendly Hotels Worldwide, every activity really focuses on “green living.”
If you’re planning a longer stay, there’s a ton to do in town as well. Hike through one of five state parks, visit farms to pick your own fruits and veggies, or go horseback riding along the riverfront. They also have plenty of fun little shops, arts & cultural centers and more. Not everything is open right now, though, so if you see something that interests you, be sure to call ahead.
Plantation on Crystal River Dining Options
Plantation on Crystal River may not have the dozen dining options that larger resorts offer, but what they do offer is absolutely delicious.
West 82º Bar & Grill
Their main dining option is just off their lobby, and it’s the perfect place to grab a fresh breakfast, lunch or dinner. My kids had manatee-shaped pancakes! So neat! They only use the best fresh natural ingredients, and most of them are local. You can dine in or order from their take-out menu to eat in your room. We mostly ate here, but there are a couple of other options.
- The Plantation Tiki Bar– Located right next to the pool, it’s perfect for a sandwich, some wings, or even a cocktail.
- 19th Hole Sports Bar & Grill -for a quick and casual meal before heading back out to the golf course. It’s very laid-back and offers indoor or outdoor seating.
Of course, you can also head out into town and enjoy everything from fine Italian dining to fresh local seafood restaurants.
Plantation on Crystal River is just such a nice place to get away for a couple of days. We really enjoyed being in touch with nature and swimming in the river.
Thank you to the Plantation on Crystal River for hosting our wonderful stay! Check out their website to book your eco-friendly family getaway.
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