Weekend Getaway – Crystal River, FL in Summer

There are three main attractions in the Crystal River and Homosassa area of Florida – (1) beautiful natural springs, (2) manatees, and (3) scalloping! These springs offer fun all year round. 

For this weekend adventure, we went scalloping! Scalloping season is only open for a limited time during the summer (typically July), so it’s best to plan this trip as far in advance as possible. Home rentals for scalloping season typically open in January. The house we rented was an updated and adorable 3 bedroom, 2 bathroom house with a great layout and a dock out back.

Day 1

We left our house on a Thursday afternoon and made the 2 1/2 hour drive trailing our boat. Once we arrived, the men went to the nearest boat ramp to launch the boat while the women went to Publix to buy food for the next several days.

That night, we went to dinner by boat to The Crab Plant – this was recommended by a friend that grew up on Crystal River. Another popular spot is Cracker’s, which was right across the way. If you want good seafood, Crab Plant is the place you want to be. After dinner we cruised around Hunter Springs to spot some manatees.

Day 2

On Friday morning, we woke up to thunder and lightning (always be patient and understanding when traveling – especially in Florida during rainy season). We attempted to go out for a bit during a clearing but the storms were rolling in so fast that we had to make a quick run back in. Fortunately, we were with great friends and the Airbnb was stocked with games so we still had a fun day. Plus, we weren’t at work so we were happy!

Day 3

Saturday was PERFECT! After breakfast, we loaded up the cooler and made our way out to scallop. You won’t have to worry about not knowing where to go… just follow the other hundred boats that will be in front of you. We picked a spot in about 5-7 feet of water (we heard the more shallow spots get picked over pretty quickly on opening weekend). Be sure that you have a dive flag on your boat, a bucket, snorkel & mask, fins, and laundry bags to hold your scallops while you’re swimming around.

I floated and enjoyed the sun all day while the other 5 did the hard work. I didn’t think diving at 32 weeks pregnant was the best use of my energy so I kept a headcount of everyone and watched for boats coming by – this worked out extremely well and I highly recommend having a watch person.

They collected a ton! Once everyone felt like our little spot was picked over, we cruised a couple hundred feet and they dove back in. You’ll never know where a perfect spot is, so just shift a little throughout the day and see what you can find. Everyone ended up finding even more in our new spot. The thicker the sea grass, the better. There will be more scallops that have stayed hidden.

Around 3:00, we packed up and made our way back in. Before going back to the house we made a quick pit stop at Dockside Ice Cream!

Once we were back to the house and the boat was unloaded, the guys started shucking! They had an assembly line that seemed to work pretty well. You can pay to have someone do it for you but we thought $30 was a little steep. I cooked a pasta dish that night that was perfect with the delicious little scallops.

Day 4

On Sunday morning, we cleaned, loaded up, and made our way back home. Everyone had a great time and this is definitely something that we’ll do again. Hopefully we’ll have two full days of nice weather next time so we can have a day to play in all the springs! As long as you’re with a good group, nothing will damper your weekend.

If you don’t reside in Florida and/or don’t have a boat of your own, you can rent a boat or book a scalloping charter. I also recommend paddleboarding or kayaking through the springs.

Manatee tours are tons of fun, but you have a better chance of seeing manatees if you visit in the winter. When the Gulf temperatures drop, the manatees come to the springs, where the temperature is 72 degrees Fahrenheit year-round. I highly highly recommend SeaDaddys – https://www.seadaddysdivecenter.com/ – don’t worry, you get a wet suit so you won’t freeze!

Weekend Getaway – Palm Coast, FL

Are you looking for a weekend getaway for the whole family that doesn’t take much planning? Check out Hammock Beach Golf Resort in Palm Coast, Florida!

For my husband’s birthday, we decided to look for a getaway that would include golf for him and activities that our daughter would enjoy. (Yes, I was also considered but I just love vacation so my needs were already met.) We landed on Hammock Beach Golf Resort and booked rooms with two other couples and their children.

Nestled on the each coast of Florida between St. Augustine and Daytona, this resort had it all. There were five restaurants, a poolside café, and multiple bars. The pool complex included a lower-level pool with a slide, a lazy river, an upper-level adult pool, and an upper-level zero-entry beach pool. Close by, an indoor pool with two hot tubs. Not up for the busy pools? Play a round of oceanfront golf (pricey option) or a round of putt-putt golf (free!). Enjoy the beach access, play tennis, rent a bike, or book a treatment at the spa and wellness center.

Now, all the details (good and bad).

We visited in July 2021 and the resort was definitely struggling with staffing levels. Check-in was “4:00 PM or when the room is ready”. For one set of friends, their room was ready right at 4:00 PM. For us, it wasn’t ready until 5:30 PM. This made things difficult since we were traveling with a child and needed somewhere to get ready for dinner. If friends wouldn’t have come with us and had an available room, we would have had to cancel our dinner reservations.

We went to dinner at Atlantic Grille that Thursday night. It was wonderful! The food was great, the staff was great, the views were great!

After dinner, we played on the beach for a bit and finally made our way to our room. When we walked in, it was very obvious that the air conditioning wasn’t working. We had to call for maintenance and wait for someone to be able to come fix it. We asked if we could switch rooms so that we could get our daughter to bed and the answer was no because they were booked solid that weekend. So we had to keep her up late and wait until they were able to get it fixed.

The next day (Friday) we started our morning with breakfast at Atlantic Grille. The dads went to play a round of golf while the moms and the kids went to the pools. The zero-entry pool was perfect for our 2 and 3 year olds! It was easy to supervise them, the deepest part was only 3 feet, they loved that they could just walk in, and there was a bathroom extremely close by.

We ordered lunch pool-side and then went back to the rooms for nap time. When I arrived at my room, my key didn’t work. I called the front desk and they had to send someone up to open the door and give me a new key. I’m typically pretty patient when traveling, but it was starting to wear thin (as you can imagine).

In the afternoon, the dads took the kids and the moms went to the adult pool for some quiet time and drinks! Then, to Delfino’s Italian Chophouse. Again, the food was great and the staff was great!

After dinner, we all reconvened to have s’mores! The resort set up firepits and offered $5 s’mores kits. The kids ate s’mores and ran in the open space. Everyone had a great day.

On Saturday, we started with breakfast at Atlantic Grille again. Then we all enjoyed a full day poolside together. We primarily hung out in the zero-entry pool but also floated around the lazy river a few times! When the kiddos needed to nap, we all alternated keeping an eye on them and hanging onto our poolside chairs.

When it was time to get ready for dinner at Loggerheads, we made our way back to the rooms. I got to the door and my key didn’t work AGAIN. I called the lobby (a little upset, I’ll admit) and they hung up on me. Then I was beyond my patience tolerance level and called again. Thankfully, someone a little more understanding answered and sent maintenance to help. They informed me that the keys are temperamental and very sensitive to deactivation if they are anywhere near a magnet. Well, my purse has a magnet closure! Had I known that on day 1, I wouldn’t have kept the key in my purse. Thankfully, dinner was great and made up for my frustration.

On Sunday, we had breakfast and then spent some time at the beach before we needed to check-out and head home.

Overall, I would give the resort 4 out of 5 stars.

Pros: The property was gorgeous, the restaurants were really great, and there were tons of amenities to make the weekend fun!

Cons: Late/inconsistent check-in, the AC being broken with no room alternatives (but its a fun place, so its popular!), the issues with our keys, and lack of sustainable processes (the trashcans on property and the beach were overflowing with plastic cups and straws everyday).