When the weather changes and starts to chill across the country, we Floridians are blessed with those comfortable temps basically year-round. Thanks to this, our waters stay warm and attract adorable manatees — and what better excuse to check them out than a Florida festival dedicated to cuties?
As one of the few places you can see manatees up close in the Sunshine State, Crystal River has long been a destination worth stopping into for a snorkel tour and soon it will be taken over for the Florida Manatee Festival.
The fest will take place on January 18 and 19 across the entire Downtown of the city, offering two days full of music, food, crafts, springs tours and more.
The event will feature more than 120 craft vendors offering a little bit of everything, like aquatic and manatee inspired art pieces, jewelry, purses, koozies, pottery, home decor, wood creations and much more.
But if crafts aren't really your thing and you consider yourself to be more of a foodie, you're in luck.
The Florida Manatee Festival will have nearly 40 food trucks and stations, offering everything under the sun from snack foods like popcorn, kettle corn, and cotton candy to more filling flavors including Thai-food, tacos, crepes, barbeque, pizza, steaks, seafood, and more.
Musical guests from DJs to acoustic artists, from drummers to violinists, and more will also be spread out throughout downtown.
Those looking for those hippie vibes will want to make a stop to shop for antiques and old-school feels at the Heritage House Hippie Village store, which will also have toe-tappin' tunes playing the whole day through too.
You can see the full musical entertainment line-up and their locations here.
But what about the main attraction? This is a manatee festival after all. Those wanting to see the manatees up close will have a couple of different options to observe these gentle giants of the sea.
Those wanting to stay dry and save a little cash can opt for a free bus tour, which will take you all around the springs and to the boardwalk, where you can watch them as they swim in their winter home.
You can catch the tour bus on the corner of N.W. 1st Avenue and N.E. 5th Street, which will be first come first serve, running continually throughout the festival until 3:30 p.m. on the 18th and 2:30 p.m. on the 19th.
Adults wanting to get a little closer and see more of these cuties and the beauty that the springs have to offer can spend $10 for a 25 to 30-minute boat tour around Kings Bay.
Boat tours start at 9:30 a.m. both days of the fest, running until 4:30 p.m. on Saturday and 3:30 p.m. on Sunday and will depart from Kings Bay Park at the end of N.W. Third Street.
Whether you've already got manatee madness or are a foodie or crafter wanting to experience these babies more, you definitely won't want to miss out on the Florida Manatee Festival.
An overview of festival details can be found below.
Really love your manatees? You can actually swim with them on snorkel tours in Crystal River. If seeking them out on your own is more your speed, check out these 6 best places to see and swim with wild manatees in Florida.
Florida Manatee Festival
Price: $5 for adults; children 12 and under get in free. Optional boat tours are $10.
When: Saturday, January 18, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Sunday, January 19, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Address: Downtown Crystal River, FL
Why You Need To Go: A festival dedicated to the cute and cuddly manatee, where you can enjoy music, food, crafts and more. You can even go on a free bus tour to see the manatee swimming in the springs from the boardwalk or pay a fee for a boat tour.
We strongly advise that before you go swimming or visit any location, you check the most recent updates on potential hazards, security, water quality, and closures. If you do plan to visit a location, respect the environment.