The best times for viewing manatees in Crystal River, Florida, are early mornings, during high tide, on cold days in late fall and winter between mid-November and mid-March. Large populations of West Indian manatees congregate around the warm water springs of the Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge when water temperatures in the Gulf of Mexico are too cold for them.
Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge is mostly accessible to visitors by water only and there are several boat rental and dive shops in the city offering snorkeling trips and kayak tours to view the manatees in Kings Bay.
The manatees can also be viewed from the scenic boardwalk trails at the Three Sisters Springs restored wetland habitat at the Refuge. Tickets are available from the Three Sisters Springs Center behind Crystal River City Hall where there is parking and a shuttle bus every 30 minutes to Three Sisters Springs.