Meghan's parents have been going to their timeshare in Longboat Key, Florida since she was tiny. It's an annual tradition where the family gathers on the white sand beaches for fun, fishing, swimming, games, and family time. Since we've been a couple, we've made every effort to go each year, if even for a few days. It will always hold a special place in our hearts too—as that's where Meghan and I got engaged!
Last year, we joined the family for their final few days in Longboat. Since we had to leave the condo on Saturday morning, we decided to extend the trip through Monday and visit Homosassa - a sleepy fishing village north of Tampa. It's about 45 minutes off I-75 and absolutely worth a visit.
Where to Eat (IF YOU DO NOTHING ELSE IN HOMOSASSA DO THIS)
The Freezer Tiki Bar has the best shrimp I've ever had. They catch it fresh from the gulf and serve it in a little divey tiki bar for unbelievable prices. You get a pound of fresh shrimp, butter, and dipping sauce for $21. If you have a group, get two full orders and enjoy. We all loved this place so much we ate there twice within 24 hours.
In the video above you can check it out (The Freezer starts at 1:21). We ate outside at a picnic table under a palm umbrella. We all still dream about how good these shrimp were. Perfect taste, perfect texture, and huuuuge quantities. DO NOT MISS THIS place.
Where to stay: We stayed at the Homosassa Riverside Resort, which is right on the Crystal River. There are other hotels in the area but many of them are in Crystal Springs - which is about 20 minutes from Homosassa and its amazing shrimp.
The Riverside is a no-frills resort still recovering from the hurricane which hit the Gulf Coast the previous fall. The tiki bar that is normally on-property was being completely rebuilt during our stay.
Directly across from the hotel is Monkey Island - where several monkeys have called home for years now. If you time it right, you can watch them being fed from the hotel.
There are also lots of nice looking Airbnbs in the area. Some of them are close to downtown and the river. If you haven't tried Airbnb yet - use our referral link here to get $30 off your first rental!
What to do: If you're comfortable on a boat, I would strongly suggest renting a pontoon boat. They're not outrageously priced and it's an amazing way to spend the day. We had two 80+-year-old grandparents with us and they loved it. The bimini top and comfortable seats ensured everyone was comfortable, plus they don't go very fast. We rented ours from Homosassa Springs Marina which was right across the river from where we were staying.
Tip - if you're going during scallop season, the key is to book way in advance. Scallop season is in late summer (June 16 - September 30 this year). We visited Homosassa in March but, apparently, scallop season in the gulf is an amazing experience - you can dive for your own fresh scallops!
We had a blast cruising up and down the river. We made it out to the Gulf where we had a chance to swim and took some great drone footage (see video above). Then we cruised back up the river for our lunch at the Freezer (they have lots of dock access and the easiest way to ensure a place to sit is to bring your boat). To wrap up the day, we went upriver towards the springs. We ran out of time but, if we do it again, we'll head to the springs first and swim in the crystal clear water.
You can also access the springs through the State Park (their website here).
Manatees are common in this area - so keep your eyes peeled (and be careful if you rent a boat). We saw several on our cruise! Some came right up to the boat! You can even swim with them! Dolphins, alligators, and plenty of water foul also reside in the area.
Have you been to Homosassa? What were your favorite parts? Let us know in the comments below!