The Plantation on Crystal River

With its warm weather and vast array of fun activities, Florida is the perfect destination for a family getaway. This was my first time staying at the Plantation on Crystal River, a hidden gem located along Florida’s Nature Coast (NW corner of the state).


When staying at a waterfront location, there are so many aquatic activities to do during the day that the whole family will enjoy. Choice Hotels is rapidly expanding its Ascend Collection of independent hotels that cater to travelers looking for unique travel experiences. A great example is at the Plantation on Crystal River, which is surrounded by more than 25,000 surface acres of lakes, rivers, wildlife refuges and state parks. 


What makes this place so special is that the Plantation on Crystal River is the only place in the world where you can learn about and legally swim with endangered West Indian Manatees. I visited during the winter months, which is when the largest concentration of manatees in the world migrates to the area to enjoy the bay’s warmer waters. With over 600 manatees gathering here (approximately 10% of the total population) it is a once in-a-lifetime opportunity to swim alongside these majestic creatures.


Kings Bay is made of over 40 springs where manatees gather including The Three Sisters-which has been featured in both the National Geographic Magazine and the Discovery Channel’s North American Series. 


Crystal River is one of the most popular destinations in Florida for recreational scalloping. As I was taking my tour around the bay, I noticed a family preparing for their guided scalloping adventure. The kids were having so much fun exploring the waters for scallop shells. After a long day of hunting for scallops, your guide takes you back to the marina where the Chef at the hotel restaurant cooks them for you!


I stopped in the hotel restaurant -West 82º Bar and Grill-for a quick lunch before heading out to the Adventure Center, where you can rent fishing boats, kayaks, snorkeling gear, canoes for further exploration of the bay. 


he resort is also home to the The Original Golf School™ and a state-of-the-art Spa, and a lagoon-style pool. There is truly something for everyone at the Plantation on Crystal River.