Courtesy of Plantation Inn

Unique history and wildlife along the Gulf of Mexico.

In Crystal River, you can have two very different—but rare—experiences. Time-warp back to 200 B.C. with the extensive Native American remains; you’ll find 425 graves and ceremonial stones—a fascinating sight for any history buff. The area is also famous for its seasonal manatee population, which you can swim or scuba amongst.

Crystal River Archaeological Site

Intact remains of Florida’s mysterious pre-European inhabitants are surprisingly rare—that’s why the 425 or so graves are so special, not to mention the two ceremonial stones marked with engravings of sun gods that show how symbolic this riverside spot was for its first human settlers.

Cravings Cantina

The juicy Cuban sandwiches, made with butter-slathered pressed bread, are unbeatable; owners Huvi and Malinda Pardo dole out meals all day, with free live music most evenings.

Plantation Inn

The grand antebellum-like property has plenty of on-site distractions, including a superb golf course and large rooms, some with water views.

American Pro Dive

More than 350 manatees winter in Crystal River. This outfitter lets you swim, scuba dive, or snorkel among the gentle, 1,200-pound giants where they congregate, in Kings Bay, in the Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge.

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