Discover Florida’s Nature Coast: The Crystal River and Surrounding Areas

The Nature Coast of Florida is known for its crystal clear springs and streams as well as its wintering manatees.  Join other Gumbo Limbo travelers as we explore this beautiful area.

Thursday is mostly a travel day.  Crystal River is about 70 miles north of Tampa.  After we check into the Plantation Inn and settle into our rooms, our first experience will be a discussion led by Matt Clemons, a biologist who worked for a nearby state park before recently retiring.  We’ll learn about the manatees’ lives and behavior as well as how we should conduct ourselves on Friday when we are in the water with them.  If you need snorkel equipment and a wetsuit, you’ll be able to arrange for it at the dive shop on the Inn’s property before our session with Matt.  Thursday dinner will be on our own.  Suggestions for dinner restaurants will be available.

Friday will be a full day.  We’ll meet in the early morning at the dive shop for our manatee encounter on the Crystal River.  Snorkeling with the manatees will give us an up-close-and-personal look at these gentle giants in their natural surroundings.  If you don’t wish to snorkel, you may observe the manatees from the boat.

After drying off and having lunch (on our own), we’ll spend an afternoon at Crystal River Archaeological State Park. Sue Clemons, a retired Park ranger, will lead us on a journey back in time to the days of the Native Americans who used this area for trade and tribal ceremonies many years ago. And if time permits, we’ll have an interpretive walk on the trails in the upland woods.  We’ll end our Friday with a group dinner at a restaurant in Crystal River.

Saturday morning we’ll be on the water again, this time in kayaks on the Withlacoochee River, one of only 2 rivers in Florida that flows north.  This blackwater river, dark from the tannin in the water, meanders through wild and scenic forested wetlands.  Our guide will help us understand the beauty of this Central Florida treasure.

From our kayak takeout location, we’ll drive to Rainbow Springs State Park, just north of Dunnellon.   After a box lunch we’ll walk through the shady gardens graced with oaks and magnolias, learning of the Park’s history from a ranger.   The rest of the afternoon, we are free to explore more of the park or stroll the streets of Dunnellon. Dinner is on our own.

Sunday we’ll check out of our lodging and start home. But first we’ll stop at Homosassa Springs State Wildlife Park. It’s a great place to see some of Florida’s native wildlife (black bears, bobcats, otters, panthers, among others) up close and in natural settings. We’ll also have a behind-the-scenes look at the Park’s rehabilitation center for injured and orphaned wildlife.

Member price for the trip is $385 per person double occupancy or $520 single occupancy. Non-members should add $25 per person to each price. This cost covers 3 nights lodging with breakfasts at the Plantation Inn in Crystal River, dinner Friday night, and box lunch Saturday, all entry fees, boat and equipment rentals, donations, and gratuities.

Transportation is by personal vehicle. Car pooling is encouraged, particularly once at Crystal River. Sunday’s lunch is on our own as are Thursday and Saturday dinners.

This adult program has a minimum of 10 participants and a maximum of 16. Pre-registration is required. Payment in full, due at the time of registration, may be made by check, Visa, Discover Card or MasterCard. The registration deadline is December 22, 2010.

Driving directions, clothing and equipment recommendations, and answers to questions will be given to travelers at a pre-trip meeting to be held at Gumbo Limbo Nature Center in January, date to be determined.

This adult program has a minimum of 10 participants and a maximum of 16. Pre-registration is required. Payment in full, due at the time of registration, may be made by check, Visa, Discover Card or MasterCard. The registration deadline is December 22, 2010.

For additional information or to obtain a registration form, please contact Diane Bilodeau at 561-416-1820.


Category Tag(s): 2010 Archives