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Trip to the Nature Coast, need advice

Peterborough, NH
Level Contributor
575 posts
5 reviews
Trip to the Nature Coast, need advice

Have never been to this area of the gulf coast before. We have been to AMI, Siesta Key and Matlacha (near Sanibel) but thought we would try something new.

My wife and I are hoping to fly in to Tampa on January 8th and see a hockey game. From there we thought we would relax for a few days. Relaxing would hopefully include some kayaking and cycling (saw that rail-trail). We also enjoy dining out.

For us, we are not really into over-commercialized strip center laden towns and chain restaurants and stores. We love the charm of a walkable but vibrant old downtown (part of why we love where we live in New Hampshire).

So I have several questions:

1) I am having a hard time getting a feel for the towns from the internet. Where should we base ourselves (town wise): Inverness, Homosassa, Crystal River, or someplace in between?

2) We don't need 80s and 90s to enjoy ourselves, 60s and 70s are fine (night temps can be cooler). Will we be OK in early January?

3) How crowded is this Nature Coast area of Florida in January? Matlacha/Pine Island was nice but Sanibel was absurdly crowded.

5 replies to this topic
Crystal River...
Level Contributor
188 posts
121 reviews
1. Re: Trip to the Nature Coast, need advice

Hi, you would probably be happy staying in either Crystal River or Inverness. They both have an “old town/Main Street “ section that would fit the bill for a place with some interesting owner run restaurants and unique and funky shops. They are roughly 30 minutes drive apart, and based on your activities you will end up visiting both. (Crystal River for the kayaking, and possibly hiking, Inverness for the biking trail, although it does run down to Crystal River.). Do be aware that both also have some areas with the strip malls too but such is life in Florida. In January, Crystal River will be a bit busier than Inverness as it is part of Manatee Season. The weather is unpredictable, and it can get down into the 20s and 30s if we get a cold snap. However it usually gets up into the 60s or 70s by afternoon. Plan on layering so you can take off unneeded garments as it heats up. I hope this helps, if you have any other questions please ask.

Peterborough, NH
Level Contributor
575 posts
5 reviews
2. Re: Trip to the Nature Coast, need advice

This is exactly the kind of information I am looking for. Thanks!

Orlando
Level Contributor
11,987 posts
2 reviews
3. Re: Trip to the Nature Coast, need advice

If you are looking for small towns, then that area will probably work. We played around in that general area on July 4 hiking in the Withlacoochee, finding a brewery in Spring Hill, and eventually walking along a very small beach before going home.

If you are looking for a small town with nice people, you will probably find it. If you are looking for lots of amenities, you probably won't.

Crystal River...
Level Contributor
188 posts
121 reviews
4. Re: Trip to the Nature Coast, need advice

Also thought to mention, if you really want to avoid crowds and aren’t necessarily interested in seeing manatees, you can also kayak on Rainbow River in Dunnellon (a bit to the north, short drive) and/or on the Withlacoochee River. Both are beautiful and peaceful. However the manatee s are adorable so you may want to do both.

Crystal River...
4 posts
5. Re: Trip to the Nature Coast, need advice

Water is always 72.

Capt Mike

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