Florida Wildlife Adventure
Located on Florida’s West Coast, west of Ocala, Crystal River’s natural geothermal springs (constant temp of 72-74 degrees) attracts the largest concentration of manatees in the world. During peak season mid December through Feb, there as many as 900+ manatees wanting to nuzzle, tickle and show off JUST FOR YOU.
- Motorcoach Transportation with Onboard Refreshments
- Sightseeing as per Itinerary
- 8 Full Buffet Breakfasts, 2 Lunches & 6 Dinners
- Gift card for 7th dinner
- Taxes & meal gratuities
- 4 Nights at Plantation on Crystal River
- 2 Nights (Travel days) Holiday Inn, Santee
- 2 Nights beach side Hampton Inn (or similar) Clearwater Beach
- Luggage Handling throughout
A hidden gem tucked away on Florida’s Nature Coast, the Plantation on Crystal River is a beautiful 50-year-old, 232 acre eco-friendly resort offering comfortable accommodations, a full service spa, all the modern amenities, and is surrounded by the natural springs of Kings Bay. Hotel offers heated pool, complimentary 9 - hole golf course & sport activities.
Highlights to Include:
- Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park & Manatee Viewing
- Big Cat Rescue
- Wild Bill’s airboat ride
- Three Sisters Springs, Winter Home of the Manatee
- Afternoon cruise Crystal River (with Manatees)
- Whispering Oaks Winery Tour and BBQ lunch
- Weeki Wachee Springs State Park & Mermaid Show
- Dolphin cruise in Tarpon Springs
- Clearwater Marine Aquarium –RESCUE, REHAB and RELEASE
- StarLite Majesty Dining Yacht
Day 1 - Sunday -January 17, 2021 (Dinner included)
7:30 am – First pick up in Rockville, MD
8:30 am -Departure from Vienna, VA and travel to Santee SC. Rest stops and lunch on own on route.
5:30 pm – Check in to full -service Holiday Inn Santee SC
Luggage handling – one bag
Make yourself at home in one of the 84 air-conditioned rooms featuring refrigerators and microwaves. Wired and wireless Internet access is complimentary, and LED televisions with satellite programming provide entertainment. Bathrooms have shower/tub combinations and hair dryers. Indoor pool and a fitness center. Quench your thirst with your favorite drink at a bar/lounge. Private dinner Jimmy Buffett style (menu to be announced) and lively and well- known DJ (Record Breakers) who will have all your up beat Jimmy Buffet music and more!! FIRST Margareta included. This is a great way to start your vacation!! Put the lime in the coconut – cash bar available
WEAR YOUR HAWAIIAN ATTIRE!!!
Day Two – Monday January 18, 2021 – Breakfast buffet and Dinner included
Breakfast buffet included.
8:00 am - Travel to Crystal River Florida
4:00 pm – ARRIVE at the Plantation on Crystal River for your 4-night stay.
Luggage handling one bag. Guests will be welcomed by Manny, the manatee and everyone will enjoy a welcome drink and appetizer.
• Rooms offer: Refrigerator, Hairdryer, Iron and ironing board. A hidden gem tucked away on Florida’s Nature Coast, the Plantation on Crystal River is a beautiful 50-year-old, 232 acre eco-friendly resort offering comfortable accommodations, a full service spa, all the modern amenities, and is surrounded by the natural springs of Kings Bay. This bay is one of the largest aquifers in the state, and home to hundreds of West Indian manatees that migrate each year to the warmth of the springs. This beautiful location, excellent dining, and onsite activities promise that there’s always a great vacation waiting for you at Plantation on Crystal River! Guests will meet their tour guide and ambassador who will be with group throughout the rest of the tour in Florida. Guide will be available to answer questions about FREE DAY or anything else about your tour.
6:30 pm- Welcome PLATED CHOICE Dinner at the resort. If the weather cooperates, we’ll be served outside by the Gazebo surrounded by the gorgeous scenery. Menu is the chef specialty chicken served with sides, chef choice of seasonal dessert. Bar items at own pense. Following dinner, we’ll enjoy a brief introduction to the property by one of the staff. Perhaps you’ll choose to take a stroll around the enchanting waterfront before turning in! ~ Sweet dreams!
DAY THREE- Tuesday January 19, 2021 (B, D)
7:00 am – 8:30 am A full breakfast is included at the resort, as a wonderful buffet of traditional breakfast favorites awaits each morning here.
8:45 am – BOARD COACH - Today’s highlights with your tour ambassador handling all arrangements and introducing guests to the “CRACKER TOWNS” and explanation.
9:00 am – 11:00 am Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park. Among the many wonderful things to see is an excellent “Manatee Program” – you will love your time here! Approx. two hours.
Visitors can see West Indian manatees every day of the year from the park's underwater observatory in the main spring. The park showcases native Florida wildlife, including manatees, black bears, bobcats, white-tailed deer, American alligators, American crocodiles, and river otters. For the Manatee Program, onlookers are seated either in the bleachers overlooking the Fish Bowl underwater observatory, or are presented alongside the in-ground manatee pool at the Manatee Care Center if weather so-dictates. At the Wildlife Encounter programs, snakes and other native animals are featured. The park features a Discovery Center, providing hands-on experiences about Florida's environment. The park has two concessionaire-operated gift shops and a concessionaire-operated café with a selection of beverages and snacks.
11:15 am – Departure for Three Sisters Visitor’s Center and Refuge in Crystal Springs. At the Visitor’s Center, board trolleys and ride from the Center to the Springs where docents will narrate as you walk along a horseshoe boardwalk to see the gentle giants in their natural habitat! The vivid turquoise water in the Three Sisters Springs glows and glitters and offers a color impossible to capture on film but it holds the kind of radiant beauty that grips your heart and captures your soul. Three Sisters Springs is a world-renowned sanctuary for the West Indian Manatee. This 57-acre refuge provides a 1/4-mile walkway with viewing platforms to observe the springs and native wildlife. Manatee sanctuaries are regulated by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service under the Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge. Their goal is to protect this warm-water habitat for federally threatened Florida manatees when they are most likely to use the warmer spring water to avoid exposure to debilitating cold periods and meet their thermoregulatory needs. There are also nature trails at Three Sisters with views of Kings Bay, Magnolia Springs, Lake Crystal and wetlands.
12: 15 pm Lunch on own and shopping time at Heritage Village. This Cracker town, still today, carries the reputation of a Fisherman Village from days gone by, so they strive to continue the theme of yesterday with today’s creative additions.
2:00 pm – Departure and return to the resort.
2:30 PM Afternoon guests will enjoy the River ride in mid afternoon at Kings Bay. (Boarding at Crystal planation). Sail around the Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge and look for local wildlife as your captain shares the history of the area. Manatees, dolphins, otters, and turtles are often spotted in the area. The boat is fully covered for protection from sun and rain.
5:30 PM Depart resort for dinner. The leisurely drive to this evening’s restaurant is a beautiful, scenic journey along the Ozello Trail. Bask in the landscape of “Old Florida” with views of saw grass, bridges, and fantastic marshland that is filled with the perfect combination of small islands and saltwater!
Dinner at Peck’s Old Port Cove.
You will have choices at time of service of their fresh, specialty seafood entrees with all the trimmings, and also a beef and chicken option for the landlubbers. Dessert of Banana split pie or Key Lime PIE!! Bar items at own expense
8:00 PM Departure and return to the resort. This should be a beautiful drive with the sunsetting. Perhaps you’ll want to stroll the grounds under the lights and enjoy one more visit to the Tiki Bar before retiring.
DAY FOUR – WEDNESDAY January 20, 2021 – (B, L, D)
7:00 am – 8:30 am A full breakfast is included at the resort. Today’s Highlights: Tour guide/ ambassador will be with guests throughout the day/evening
9:00 am – Depart hotel for WIld Bill's Airboat Tour
9:45 am – Arrive on the Withlacoochee River. Away we go on a thrilling ride down the Withlacoochee River swamps looking for the Florida alligator, plus viewing all its little friends along the way! Tour through the vast unspoiled wilderness of the wetlands on the first airboat tour in Florida that is Coast Guard-approved. Come see why people have said “This is one of the best things I ever did in Florida”!
11:45 am – Departure and travel to Whispering Oaks Winery (lunch included). An Award-Winning Healthier Wine – Creating all wines with the freshest Florida Blueberries. Blueberries are arguably the healthiest fruit, with high antioxidant values. Lunch will be a Florida BBQ with blueberry BBQ sauces and various sides and dessert
2:00 pm - Following lunch experience a touch of “Old Florida” at Ferris Groves. This is one of those places that still looks like the Florida most of us remember from our childhoods.
3:30 pm – Departure for the resort.
4:00 pm -MAKE ARRANGEMENTS FOR YOUR FREE DAY TOMORROW.
6:00 pm – Be ready for a SUNSET boat cruise from property and enjoy a sunset cruise to dinner and back!!!!!
Dinner this evening at Cracker’s Restaurant, a “local favorite”, for a true taste of the area (pun intended ;-). If Mother Nature cooperates, we may be able to eat outside on the back deck with captivating views of beautiful Kings Bay. Otherwise, inside tables await! Choice meal this evening including dessert. Bar items on own.
When everyone is finished, the boat will take everyone back to the Resort.
DAY Five– Thursday January 21, 2021 (B D) FREE DAY
A full breakfast is included at the resort. FREE DAY- Your tour ambassador will be available as well as the activities director at the resort
Amount of walking is depending upon what each person decides to do.
Golf – 9 holes complimentary when staying at the resort, Driving Range - complimentary. Activities such as horseshoes, shuffle board, croquet, pickle ball, tennis, corn hole, giant chess, Heated pool with beach chairs, umbrellas and towels.
Additional Activities available on site for nominal fees:
Swim with the Manatees, River Tours, Sunset Cruises, Scuba Lessons, Fishing charters, Boat rentals, Kayak and Stand Up Paddle boards, PADI certified Scuba, 18-hole Championship Golf Course, Golf Lessons, Tennis Lessons, Bike Rentals & Spa Services.
• These activities and services may be arranged through the Front Desk.
6:30 pm- Buffet dinner this evening is included at the resort. Meal consists of salmon, pork loin, sides and desserts. Bar items at own expense.
Day SIX - FRIDAY January 22, 2021– B L
7:00 am - A full breakfast is included at the resort. Check out of host property and board coach.
8:30 am - Depart on motorcoach for Weeki Wachee in Spring Hill, Florida.
9:00 am – 11:00 am -Weeki Wachee Springs State Park. Enjoy this ‘step back in time’ at your own pace, but don’t miss the ONE OF THE special shows, “The Little Mermaid”, performed live in the submerged 400-seat auditorium ~ How Fun
11:00 am – Departure for Tarpon Springs. Lunch included at Rusty Bellies Waterfront Grill. A laid-back eatery located in the historic Sponge Docks of Tarpon Springs, it is a family-owned and operated waterfront seafood restaurant with quaint marine décor. Guests will enjoy some shopping time following lunch in this fun bohemian little town. Very cute shops and very GREEK!!!
2:00 pm Dolphin Island Adventure Cruise aboard The Odyssey Sightseeing Boat 2-hour cruise. River, watch for Osprey Nests, Waterfowl, Dolphin, Manatee & Sea Turtles. Experience Historical Anclote Lighthouse - Stroll the beach, Look for shells!
4:00 pm Following cruise depart for Clearwater Beach Florida.
4:30 pm - Check in to host property Hampton Inn Clearwater waterfront. Ocean/water view, Mini refrigerator, Microwave, Coffee maker, Hairdryer, Iron. 2-night stay. LUGGAGE HANDLING
Rooftop bar offering a glorious view of the sunset. Located on the 6th floor open terrace, Evy's Terrace Bar & Bistro comes with spectacular views overlooking Clearwater Pass and the Gulf of Mexico, complete with the most memorable sunsets.
Day Seven: SATURDAY January 23, 2021– B D
Full hot breakfast at host property prior to departing.
8:45 am – Depart for Clearwater Marine Aquarium – RESCUE, REHAB and RELEASE. This is exhibit is part in doors (air-conditioned and part out-doors). This is not exactly like the aquariums you may have visited in the past. This marine aquarium exist to rescue marine animals (dolphins, sea turtles, river otters, etc.), rehabilitate them from sickness or injury, and release them back into their natural habitats whenever possible. This is a unique experience unlike any other aquarium!
11:00 AM Depart for Sarasota and St. Armond’s Key
Noon - Guests will fall in love with St. Armond’s Key. A one-of-a-kind place to shop and dine on St. Armand’s Key in Sarasota, Florida.
3:30 pm Departure for hotel.
OUR FINAL NIGHT Dinner is on the StarLite Majesty Dining Yacht 6:30 Boarding. 2 -2 ½ hour cruise.
Ready for a dazzling dinner and night out? StarLite offers great dining, live entertainment and dancing with some of the best waterfront views in all of Clearwater Beach from brilliant vistas to starlit evening. Entertainment is a mix of live selections and a wide variety of recorded songs to satisfy any musical request. Full bar.
Day Eight Sunday January 24, 2021 (Breakfast and $20 gift card for dinner)
Enjoy a full breakfast buffet -Hampton style, Bid good-bye to your tour guide.
7:30 am – Luggage pick up
8:15 am- Departure for Santee SC for an overnight stay at the Holiday Inn (same property as first night stay) with a stop in TAMPA at Big Cat Rescue.
On this 1.5 hour walking tour, don’t be surprised if your heart fills with joy as you watch these playful kitties romping and socializing in their new home! Big Cat Rescue is the world’s largest accredited sanctuary dedicated entirely to abused and abandoned exotic cats. Celebrity supporters of the work being done by BCR include Bo Derek, Harrison Ford and Leonardo DiCaprio, and more.
11:00 am- Travel to Santee SC. Lunch on own and comfort stops and dinner stop en route.
Approx. 5:30 pm – Before checking in to property guests will all have a $20 gift card to use for dinner at Cracker Barrel (stop will be en route to hotel).
8:00 pm approx.. - Check in to full -service Holiday Inn Santee SC.
Luggage handling – one bag
Day Nine Monday January 25, 2021 (Breakfast)
Full hot breakfast buffet at host property before departing
7:00 am- Luggage out
7:30 am – Departure and travel all day to first drop point Vienna, VA. Rest stops and lunch on own on route.
5:00 pm - Arrive in Rockville, Maryland
5:45 pm – Drop off in Vienna, VA
Dates: Jan 17 - 25, 2021
Balance due: 11/18/20
Single Supplement: +$669
Trip Director: Carolyn McKenna
PICK UPS AVAILABLE FROM:
Grosvenor Metro, Rockville MD
Club Office, Vienna, VA
McLean Metro on Request
Activity Level: Moderate Walking