"A string of counties studded with emerald-like gulf waters, deep springs and rivers, stretching along the same Florida coast."
What is the first thing that comes to mind when you think about what your life might be like if you were living in Florida?
If you’re like most people, the first things that come to mind probably involve beaches, great weather, and spectacular theme parks. While those are all great reasons for spending your retirement years in Florida, the area called the Nature Coast offers quite a bit more to its residents.
This nine-county section of Florida lies along the Gulf Coast as the northern peninsula bends into the panhandle. Residents here still have access to amazing beaches, great weather, and are under 1.5 hours from the theme parks. But they are also exposed to nearly endless opportunities to pursue their passion for nature in a variety of different ways.
A Storied History
Not only is Florida’s Nature Coast a great place to experience the outdoors today, but it has been that way for multiple centuries. Ancient American Indians have left shell mounds and other ruins that can be explored in a variety of state and local parks throughout the region.
There are also plenty of Antebellum-era homes to visit and explore. Many of these old mansions have actually been turned into museums over the years, so in addition to appealing to nature lovers, there is also plenty here for history buffs.
An Abundance of Trails
The Nature Coast is filled with all kinds of trails that run through, and in some cases even connect, its parks. Many of these trails are part of the Rails to Trails program and are paved right over old railroad tracks.
Two of the most popular trails in the area are the Nature Coast State Trail and the Withlacoochee State Forest Trail. Both of these trails are great for walking, jogging, bicycling, and in some areas even horseback riding. They give you the opportunity to do these things in some of the most beautiful natural environments you will find anywhere.
The trails of the Nature Coast go much further than the standard paved variety. There are plenty of more involved hiking trails and just as many water trails as land trails.
If you are an avid canoe or kayak paddler, there are an amazing number of places to explore starting from either the Suwannee, Waccasassa, or Withlacoochee rivers.
Rare Wildlife Species
While you are out exploring the trails of the Nature Coast, you will be in close contact with the 19 rare or endangered species of wildlife that make their homes here. With as many parks and reserves as there are in this region, you will always have another opportunity to explore the habitats of different local wildlife.
One of the most popular endangered species in the area is the West Indian Manatee. These large sea mammals migrate to the warm waters along the Nature Coast every winter. You can find them floating all through the springs around Crystal River, or learn about them from dry land at Homosassa Springs State Wildlife Park.
Catch of the Day
If you prefer to be more active in catching wildlife than observing it, the Nature Coast also has plenty to offer. It is widely considered to be one of the best places in the entire world for tarpon fishing. There are dozens of different companies offering fishing charters throughout the region, but you can find just as much enjoyment fishing from your own canoe as well.
In addition to great fishing, the Nature Coast region also offers great scalloping and stone crabbing, which you just can’t do in most places. Whether you prefer to dive for scallops yourself, catch stone crab from a boat, or buy both from local vendors, the seafood along the Nature Coast is always fresh.
Your friends and relatives will certainly appreciate the close proximity that your new home in Florida’s Nature Coast will have to all of the tourist attractions they are interested in, but the outdoor opportunities are what many local residents value more than anything.
Luckily for residents of the Villages of Citrus Hills, they can have the best of both worlds right at their front door.