After a change of plans to include manatees on this Florida trip we had some free time on Saturday in Crystal River. We had our amazing swim in the morning, and a little warm up time in the hotel hot tub afterwards. I had heard that Three Sisters Springs was the place to see manatee so we drove five minutes up the road to the address online.
Parking is available at City Hall. We had just missed the shuttle and had an almost 20 minute wait. This gave us time to sit in the sunshine and to grab sweatshirts from the car.
It is about a 10 minute trolley ride to the spring. At the spring there is no parking, so you need to ride the shuttle or walk in. The trolley will drop you off at Hunter Spring park and a couple of stops in town on the way back. Just ask your driver.
Upon arrival people poured off the trolley and headed to the closest boardwalk entrance. We went the other way to avoid the herd of people.
The water is a beautiful color and with the cold temps we saw many manatees in the springs.
Many were coming and going so once in a while there was a little manatee traffic jam in the water.
I was excited to go to the spring. It was $15 a person with the winter rates, in the summer it is $7.50.
We paid $45 for the three of us to go do something which ultimately took under an hour round trip. I am pretty cheap and this really was not worth it for our family. If it were $8-10 a person I would say go for it to see a bunch of manatees. But it is not worth $45 to our family.
What I would suggest instead is to visit Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park located fifteen minutes up the road. The cost to enter is $13 and you can print a 20% off coupon here: http://www.discovercrystalriverfl.com/specials/homosassa-springs-wildlife-state-park
Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park has not only manatee, which was saw many in the river on a cold afternoon. But they have a hipo named Lu who just turned 58 this week. Besides Lu, they have bears, flamingos, reptiles, and many other animals. Also make time to view the underwater observatory in the main spring.
We spent the afternoon at Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park and feel it is a better value.
More information on the Three Sisters Springs Park here: http://www.threesistersspringsvisitor.org/page/home