The area may be known as The Water Lover’s Florida, but aquatic adventure is only the beginning: Citrus County and its unspoiled natural surroundings have land-based pursuits for a variety of interests. Let this page be your guide to discovering a few of the activities on land that keep our visitors coming back.
Start your Crystal River terrestrial itinerary by soaking up the local flavor in the city’s downtown, which features the charming Heritage Village collection of shops and restaurants. Head to Citrus Avenue (495) just off of Highway 19 to begin the fun. Whether you are looking for a plush manatee or timeless antique to remember your visit by, the Shoppes of Heritage Village have something for everyone. Don’t miss All About Nature, La-Te Da & The Cotton Club and the Manatee Toy Company. Next, enjoy the full span of the area’s centuries of history by Coastal Heritage Museum and Crystal River Archaeological State Park. The Coastal Heritage Museum chronicles the beginnings of western Citrus County, and its historic building was built in 1939 by WPA labor. The Archaeological State Park dates back significantly further, when the series of shell middens at the park were an important ceremonial center for the thousands of ancient Native Americans. A museum showcasing a variety of artifacts can be toured at the park, which is also a recognized birding site and a stop on the Great Florida Birding Trail.
Begin your Homosassa exploration is with one of the area’s best known attractions: The Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park. Open every day, Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park showcases by Florida fauna —from key deer to red wolves, reptiles birds and more—in a natural setting along a 1.2 mile boardwalk. Several manatees call the park home and can be observed in the underwater observatory along with teeming schools of fish. While not a native Floridian, park resident Lu the Hippo was made an honorary citizen of the state by Gov. Lawton Chiles. Fascinating educational programs are offered daily on manatees, snakes and alligators, and the Children’s Education Center will entertain the little ones. Not far from the Wildlife Park lies Homosassa Butterfly, one of the area’s newest attractions. The facility features a 2,500-square-foot enclosed habitat filled with live butterflies. Guests can also see live displays include butterfly eggs, a caterpillar room and a chrysalis room, plus a state-of-the-art movie room. Plus, you can see beautiful works of art from talented artists at Riverside Gallery and explore the past at the Yulee Sugar Mill Ruins Historic State Park.
An ideal way to begin your stay is at the center of the City of Inverness itself. Step inside the historic courthouse at the heart of downtown to visit The Old Courthouse Heritage Museum, a treasure trove of fascinating Citrus County history. The museum also regularly features traveling exhibits and special engagements from around the state. Past exhibits have included everything from Civil War history to citrus crate labels. The courthouse itself was built by the Citrus County Board of Commissioners built in 1912 to provide expanded services during the extensive phosphate, citrus, lumber and dry goods trade of the early 20th century. It has since received extensive restoration and was featured in the 1961 Elvis Presley film Follow That Dream. After exploring the courthouse, walk around downtown to enjoy a wide variety of shops and restaurants for just about any taste. On the second day of your visit, get out and explore the scenic natural surroundings nestling historic Inverness. For cyclists, the Withlacoochee State Trail offers an experience of peddling perfection. An example of a successful “rails to trails” program, the Withlacoochee State Trail was a 46-mile section of railroad track that has been paved for use by visitors on bicycles or foot. Because the trail is paved and flat, it is ideal for all levels of experience. Next, get out, active and enjoying Inverness’ natural surroundings. There is a trailhead in Inverness near Wallace Brooks Park, from which you can bike north to the Withlacoochee River near Dunnellon or south through Nobelton to the Brooksville area. In-line skaters, walkers and bird-watchers will have an equally good time on the trail, and an unpaved equestrian trail follows portions of the paved path. The Withlacoochee State Forest, through which portions of the State Trail pass, presents a wide variety of outdoor activities in its own right and was named one of the “10 Coolest Places You’ve Never Been in North America” by the World Wildlife Fund. This is the third-largest State Forest in Florida, and the large Citrus Tract of the forest abuts Inverness to the west and south. The Withlacoochee State Forest offers guests trails for hiking, biking and horseback riding, as well as fishing and even seasonal hunting. What more, the Citrus Tract is also a site of the Great Florida Birding Trail, ensuring amble opportunities for spotting uncommon avians.
Finally, if golf is your game, plan to spend a great day on the links during your next visit. No mention of Citrus County’s land-based activities and amenities would be complete without highlighting the variety of courses found throughout the area. There is sure to be a convenient, affordable course ideal for your level of play. For more information, please see our golf page.