We have found the restaurants on the Gulf side of Florida to be unusually busy early in the evening. Where we are from( and most of the places we travel to) if you want to eat at a particular restaurant you can show up at 5:30 and have no issue. It is a little early for our family to eat dinner but it is usually our vacation plan to have no wait.
Except for on this trip. After running into jam packed restaurants at 5:30 we started to look as we drove around. Some parking lots were plenty full at 3:30pm. Back home that is happy hour times for a beer, not a full meal. We needed to eat even earlier then!
Knowing we wanted to eat at the Crab Plant on a Friday we made sure we arrived horribly early. The restaurant was really easy to find and maybe five minutes from the Best Western in Crystal River.
We took the last open parking spot and then open table at 5:10pm. So early! Families arrived after us and started queuing up for the next open tables. By 5:45 people would enter, see the wait and leave. This is not normal so early in the Midwest, oy!