Ever since learning about Crystal River early last year, it’s been on the top of my travel list. While my main focus for coming to Citrus County was to interact with manatees in a safe and natural environment (more on that next week), that ended up being only one facet of my trip.
Plantation on Crystal River proved the perfect home away from home. It has all the conveniences I’ve grown accustomed to as a modern traveler and yet, it isn’t over-the-top luxurious. Even though I rented a car, most of my activities took place on property, which made things extra convenient. Whether you’re in town for business or pleasure, you can (and should) treat yourself to a little wellness retreat.
1) Find a focus for your trip
Since Crystal River is such an ecological destination, many travelers come here to reconnect with nature and maybe even learn a thing or two about how to live a more sustainable life. For me, my focus was getting some up close and personal time with the manatees who live here year-round. Therefore, several of my activities revolved around these large and lovable creatures. That said, there are plenty of other ways to experience this Florida town that don’t involve a wetsuit. From fishing and boating excursions to an impressive golf course and a rejuvenating spa, there’s something for everybody here. Depending on when you visit, it’s a good idea to book some (or all) of your activities in advance for a stress-free trip.
2) Make time for wellness
This might seem like a no brainer but you’d be surprised by how many people (myself included) fully anticipate disconnecting from technology and then fail miserably. We live busy lives and it’s not exactly easy to forget our checklists and neglect our work emails for hours on end. That said, I encourage you to at least try. Since I was here to work, I knew I couldn’t completely ignore the WiFi connection but I did carve out some much-needed alone time. After all, Plantation on Crystal River was basically designed with the wellness traveler in mind so use its serenity to get centered. Take advantage of the property’s isolated, natural environment by walking through the grounds or taking a boat ride.
3) Treat yourself to a spa day
Instead of packing my last day in Citrus County with soft adventure, I decided to take things easy and pamper myself a little. Luckily, I didn’t have to go far. The Plantation on Crystal River has an on-site spa called “Spa Blue,” which is part of the Aveda brand. Similar to other Aveda salons around the world, the spa menu is rather extensive and I can be pretty indecisive. In addition to their signature body treatments, you can also splurge on a facial, manicure, pedicure or get a new look at their hair salon. Ultimately, I opted for their Elemental Nature Massage based on Aveda’s “Elemental Nature” philosophy and aromas. While I’m hardly a spa expert, I was really impressed by the staff’s professionalism and skill level.
4) Kayak with the manatees
After my hour of relaxation, I decided to go for a little kayak ride through Crystal River. I had originally planned to kayak before my spa treatment but I woke up too late. Either way, I found the self-guided tour challenging but not too strenuous. That said, it had been a good five years since my last kayak trip so I was definitely sore the next day. My biggest worry was getting lost without a guide but the route was fairly easy to navigate. I didn’t have too much luck spotting any manatees but I also didn’t paddle all the way to Three Sisters Spring where many of them are seen daily. Still, I really enjoyed being surrounded by nature. With maybe only a handful of other kayakers that day, I pretty much had the river to myself. Serene, indeed!
5) Chow down on local eats
Before arriving to Crystal River, I hadn’t thought too much about the local food scene but I was about to find out. I had a few meals at the Plantation’s on-site restaurant, West 82º Bar & Grill, (there’s also the 19th Hole Bar & Grill and the Tiki Bar). All entries are prepaid with fresh, natural ingredients whenever possible and naturally, many dishes include seafood. In terms of off-site dining, Seagrass Waterfront in Homossassa (part of Citrus County) boasts a great view, with indoor and outdoor seating. For something more upscale, Vintage on 5th is a must! I recommend ordering their Mac & Cheese (it’s tossed with goat cheese) and, of course, the Key Lime Pie. Fun fact: My delightful waiter used to live on the same block as I did in New York. Small world!
What’s your favorite way to relax? Tell me in the comments below!
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