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A Nature Lover’s Dream: Relocating to Florida’s Nature Coast

Florida's Nature Coast on the Gulf side of the state

Dream Big

What is the first thing that comes to mind when you think about Florida lifestyles?

You’re likely thinking beaches, perfect weather, and spectacular theme parks. While those are all good and valid reasons for spending your retirement in Florida, Florida’s Nature Coast on the Gulf side of the state, offers another side to the Sunshine State. It’s where you’ll find nature’s varied palette, one full of adventure, wildlife, color, and outdoor opportunities.

A Storied History

The rich history of Florida’s Nature Coast is still available for exploration. As can be seen on maps and in guides, Native American shell mounds and other ruins are speckled across state and local parks throughout the region.

Likewise, in nearby towns and cities, you can step back in time, once again, when exploring Antebellum-era homes. 

The Rails to Trails Program

Many of these 18th century mansions have been transformed into museums, and are now full of historical treasures that delight tourists and residents alike.

An Abundance of Trails

Trails carve through the Nature Coast, connecting a plethora of State and National Parks. The Rails to Trails program, intended to repurpose defunct railroad tracks, has expanded the Florida trails system extensively.

Withlacoochee State Forest Trail BridgeTwo of the most popular trails in the area are the Nature Coast State Trail and the Withlacoochee State Forest Trail. Visitors can walk, jog, or take in the scenery on horseback. Both are ideal for cyclists as well. Rent a cabin at Fanning State Park (a bargain at $100 a night with two bedrooms and a full kitchen) or camp at nearby Manatee Springs State Park. Cycle along the gorgeous trails for a day or two to see a whole new side of Florida.

If you’re an avid canoe or kayak paddler, you’re in luck. The Suwannee, Waccasassa, or Withlacoochee rivers offer paddlers authenticity and raw beauty one may not have access to otherwise.

Rare Wildlife Species

While you’re traversing the trails of the Nature Coast, be on the lookout for one of 19 rare or endangered species. The number of wildlife sightings might surprise you.

West Indian Manatee

One of the most popular endangered species in the area, overall, is the West Indian Manatee. These graceful sea mammals migrate to the warm waters along the Nature Coast every winter. You can float alongside them through the springs surrounding the Crystal River in early spring.  Or, you can view them from dry land at Homosassa Springs State Wildlife Park.

Catch of the Day

The Nature Coast is widely considered the tarpon fishing capital of world.  So, naturally, charter boats buzz along the coast daily. And, early morning paddlers with their fishing rigs in tow, are perched in kayaks and canoes along the waterway. 

In addition to superior fishing opportunities, stone crabs and scallops are also plentiful along the Gulf. Whether you prefer to dive for scallops yourself, catch stone crab from a boat, or buy both from local vendors, fresh seafood is always in stock.

Plan a trip to the Nature Coast, but, please be warned. You’re quite likely to fall in love.

If you find yourself in this predicament, and you’re interested in exploring housing and community options in the area, head to the Villages of Citrus Hills. They offer the best of both worlds. 

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