From manatees to mermaids, this family-friendly park is a must-visit on the sunshine state’s west coast. Stay nearby at one of these hand-picked hotels near Weeki Wachee Springs State Park, Florida – now bookable on Culture Trip.
With endless miles of protected wetlands, hip cities and amusement parks, the west coast of Florida is arguably the best. And one of its favorite family-friendly attractions is Weeki Wachee Springs State Park, where kids love the magical mermaid shows and exploring the deepest freshwater cave system in the country – where they may even spot a herd of sea cows, otherwise known as manatees. Whatever you do, make the most of your time with a stay in one of these heart-of-the-action hotels nearby.
For family fun on Florida’s west coast, this hotel is about as well-placed as can be. You’re just 20 minutes from Weeki Wachee Springs for frolicking mermaids and magic shows, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Just over the road from the hotel is Werner-Boyce Salt Springs State Park, a wildlife-rich wetlands area – perfect for an afternoon of paddling around in a kayak, while airboat rides will blow the cobwebs away at Jay B Starkey Wilderness Park, a five-minute drive south.
This homey B&B will make a memorable holiday spot for little kids with big imaginations. For starters – with its yellow clapboard exterior, lush garden with trees draped in Spanish moss and cozy cottagey rooms – it looks like the kind of house you’d find in the pages of a storybook. What’s more, it’s one of the 21 stops on Brooksville’s Mermaid Trail, a scavenger hunt that takes you on a tour through the historic downtown.
This colonial-style resort is a must for couples who like to keep their holiday itineraries action-packed. Right on the edge of King’s Bay, split your days between snorkeling with manatees, spotting bald eagles and dolphins as you paddle around Crystal River in a kayak, or charter a fishing boat to tackle some grouper. Rather stick to dry land? The resort’s 18-hole golf course and fitness center should keep you on your toes – while the full-service spa is there to take the edge off.
Each of the three rooms at the family-run Retreat at Crystal Manatee has been individually styled to create a unique space just for you. From the glam walk-in showers – decked in geometric tiles – to the Japanese-style artwork and bedspreads, there are buckets of personality at this boutique retreat. Facilities are limited to the lush tropical garden – and loungers for reading beneath the dappled shade of palm trees – but complimentary wifi and a location on the edge of Kings Bay will keep you connected.
Rock Pointe Ranch is the mane attraction in the neigh-borhood – especially if you’re into horses. This working horse-breeding farm has transformed three rooms into spacious guestrooms with ensuite bathrooms and views of the Spanish moss-draped trees in the garden. As a guest, you’ll have free rein of the amenities, including the living room, breakfast room, large pool and jacuzzi. Pay a visit to the ranch’s herd of rosette-winning gypsy vanner – or galineers cob – horses, or giddy-up and hit the nearby Withlacoochee State Trail.
There’s so much to do on this stretch of coast that you won’t struggle to stay busy. With that being said, if you do end up with a couple of afternoons to fill – or just fancy a break from the daily excursions – this swish all-suites hotel has you covered. Sharpen your short game with the hotel’s own mini putting course, challenge the kids to a game of ping-pong or table football at the outdoor games area, or fire up the grill with outdoor gas-powered BBQs – available for guests to use.
Not a golf fan? Don’t let the name of this resort put you off. Sure, it has four world-class courses on its doorstep, but there’s plenty else to do here. With six pools, you pick a different one to take a dip for every day of your stay. Prefer to keep things reel? Sling your hook for a spot of fishing in the resort’s private lake, or hone your net skills of a different kind on its tennis courts. All sounding a bit too physical? The spa is here to soothe your weary muscles.
For more options, discover our guide on the best hotels in Crystal River, Florida, and book now on Culture Trip.
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