The Ultimate Crystal River Florida Elopement Guide

If you dream of an intimate Florida elopement experience with just you, your partner, and maybe a few loved ones, I recommend checking out Crystal River! Located just an hour North of Tampa, Crystal River is home to many beautiful spots to exchange vows, roam around while capturing dreamy elopement pictures, and celebrate your big day.

It’s such an underrated location for your Florida elopement. You’ll be able to find beaches with minimal people while not compromising on views. That’s why I created this guide to help you elope in Crystal River, Florida. It covers everything from the best places to stay to unique activities to make your special day unforgettable.

bride and groom kissing during their Crystal River Florida elopement

Best Time to Elope in Crystal River, FL

Depending on how you envision your elopement day, Crystal River is a great place to elope all year round. 

My top season recommendation is Fall/Early Spring. The weather is pleasant, as it’s slightly cooler with lower humidity levels, and you’ll also find fewer crowds compared to other seasons. 

Spring and winter are great options, too, when it comes to weather. However, Spring here is a peak for tourism, and winter is popular for couples looking to escape the cold for their winter elopement. So, if you’re planning your elopement during those seasons, it’s best to elope on a weekday or during the early hours for more privacy. 

Summer is the most challenging season for your Crystal River, Florida elopement. If you’re choosing a summer date, be prepared for the heat, humidity, bugs, and hurricane season. Consider early morning or late afternoon elopements to avoid the hottest part of the day.

And if you’re coming to Crystal River for the manatees, the best time to elope here would be between November and March! Take a guided tour to enjoy seeing manatees in their natural habitat, but remember – they are living beings, so you can look but can’t touch them!

7 Best Crystal River, Florida Elopement Locations

Crystal River is home to many beautiful gardens, parks, and beaches, perfect for your elopement. Here are some of my favorite places around the area!

Three Sisters Springs

Three Sisters is a dreamy spot for couples looking for a serene and natural backdrop for their Florida elopement day. It has crystal clear waters, lush greenery and tons of water activities to include in your celebration. Once you get to the spring run, motorized vessels aren’t allowed inside the Springs, however, you can paddle! The in-water access is open from sunrise to sunset every day, unless it’s closed during manatee season.

Fort Island Gulf Beach

If you’re dreaming of a beach elopement, Fort Island Gulf Beach is the place to be. With its stunning sunsets and soft sand, it’s an ideal spot for a romantic and relaxed ceremony by the sea. There is also a boat ramp and dock accessibility, as well as a stunning boardwalk for you to enjoy the views. You can often see dolphins swimming here!

Crystal River Archaeological State Park

Crystal River Archaeological State Park is a 2500-year-old location filled with history and natural beauty. The Crystal River will serve as an amazing backdrop for your ceremony, whether you exchange your vows right at the shore or climb the stairs of the temple mound to take in the whole view. Here, you can take a look at the museum and some of the historic sites, go wildlife watching, or enjoy a hike along the paved pathways. 

Hunter Springs Park

Hunter Springs Park is a great Florida elopement location for those who want a bit of beach and a lot of greenery. With clear waters and a picturesque setting, it’s a lovely choice for an intimate elopement. The springs keep the water at a pretty constant 72°F all year round, perfect for a winter elopement if you’re trying to avoid the cold.


Venture a bit off the beaten path to Ozello, where you’ll find a hidden gem perfect for a private and scenic ceremony. This area offers a stunning natural backdrop with winding waterways and scenic landscapes. Stay here and enjoy hiking trails, kayaking, fishing, and a great meal at one of the restaurants this small town offers.

Rainbow Springs State Park

Rainbow Springs State Park is a bit of a drive from Crystal River, but it’s totally worth it for the sapphire-blue waters, stunning waterfalls, gardens, and vibrant natural surroundings. It’s a very popular location during weekends and holidays, and once the park is at capacity, it will close to all visitors. So, I recommend planning your elopement here for a weekday! 

In this park, you can enjoy many water activities, such as tubing, canoeing, kayaking, and snorkeling, or go for a hike through the gardens.

Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park

Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park is a unique natural setting for your elopement day. Here you’ll be surrounded by wildlife (as the name already gives away), as well as the stunning landscapes of the Homosassa River areas.

Here you can enjoy birding, boat tours, hiking through the paved trails, and, of course, wildlife viewing.

bride and groom gazing upon Crystal River

How to Make Your Elopement in Florida Legal

To get married in Florida, you’ll need to obtain a marriage license. This can be done at any county clerk’s office—no residency requirements are necessary for couples. Both parties must be present, provide a valid photo ID, and know their social security numbers.

Florida doesn’t require a waiting period for non-residents, but residents must wait three days unless they’ve completed a premarital course. As for the ceremony, you’re free to choose who officiates as long as they’re legally recognized to do so in Florida. You’ll need a witness present at the ceremony (as your photographer, I’m happy to be your witness!).

You’ll also need to check if your chosen Florida elopement location requires a permit for ceremonies or photography. This is something I always help my couples with as well!

bride and groom touching foreheads

Crystal River Florida Elopement Activities

I already suggested some elopement activities that go perfectly with your elopement location, however, here’s more of an at-a-glance overview for you!

  • Manatee tours
  • Scalloping trips
  • Sunset cruises
  • Kayaking and paddleboarding
  • Going fishing on one of the fishing charters
  • Hiking in one of the State Parks
  • Diving and snorkeling
  • Golfing (one of my personal favorite activities!)
  • Enjoying a relaxing spa day 

bride and groom sitting on the rocks by Crystal River, Florida

What to Pack for Your Elopement

The packing list will vary from couple to couple depending on your chosen season, activities, and location, and I always help my clients figure out what to bring with them for their particular elopement day. However, here are some basics to consider!

  • Water (and lots of it)
  • Snacks
  • Rings
  • Vow books
  • First aid kit
  • Sun protection
  • Bug Spray
  • Proper footwear
  • Your marriage licenses
  • Your elopement attire
  • Change of clothes in case you get wet

bride and groom walking hand in hand through forest

Where to Stay for Your Elopement in Crystal River

If you’re planning a destination elopement here, or you’re a local and want a change of scenery for your elopement day, Crystal River has many unique accommodation options! There are modern Airbnbs, cozy cabins, and luxurious homes with a private dock for easy access to water activities. Here are a few recommendations for you!

The Blue Sea Cow B&B

This cute cottage is a great accommodation option for your Florida elopement. Just steps away from Three Sister’s Springs, Hunters Springs, and Kings Bay, this destination offers a plethora of activities like kayaking, paddleboarding, scuba diving, and swimming with manatees. The cottage, which comfortably sleeps four, is within walking distance of downtown’s restaurants and shops. Enjoy private amenities like a backyard, carport, kayaks, paddleboards, and bicycles. 

River House

River House is another cute cottage perfect for adventurous lovers eloping in Florida. Located just 4 minutes from downtown Crystal River, Kings Bay, and Hunter’s Springs, the cottage offers a peaceful retreat at the end of a quiet road. 

It’s perfect for activities like hiking, biking, golfing, kayaking, and swimming with manatees. It has a nice boho-chic decor and chill atmosphere, where you can unwind in a hammock chair, enjoy the evening by the fire pit, or have fun in the game room as you celebrate your elopement.

King’s Bay Lodge

Experience Old Florida charm at this beautiful historic hotel. With its prime location and easy access to water activities, it’s the perfect spot for those who love boating or kayaking. Just a stroll away from Citrus Ave, you’ll find a plethora of stores, coffee shops, and restaurants, and you’ll be in proximity to the cross-town trail. The lodge boasts a spring-fed pool, friendly staff, and a laid-back vibe amidst giant live oaks and Spanish moss.

Food Spots to Celebrate Your Elopement

It might be the foodie in me saying this, but having good food is important during any celebration, especially an event as big as your elopement day! There are many nice places in Crystal River where you can eat great food and enjoy beautiful views. Here are some suggestions!

  • St. John’s Tavern is a local favorite with a cozy atmosphere and menu that features a popular Smash Burger and a wide selection of craft beers.
  • Specializing in fresh, local seafood, The Crab Plant is known for its wide variety of crab dishes, fresh grouper, snapper, and more, served in a setting that boasts stunning water views. It’s a great spot for seafood enthusiasts looking to enjoy a meal alongside the scenic backdrop of Crystal River​.
  • Set in a cozy, renovated cottage, Vintage on the 5th offers a charming atmosphere and a menu featuring fresh seafood, hand-cut steaks, and southern favorites. The well-rounded wine list elevates your dining experience further by helping you pair the right wine with your meal.
  • KC Wine and Koffee Bar is located in the historic downtown Crystal River and has a great selection of wines, coffees, and bistro-style food. The setting there is cozy and romantic, and they offer live entertainment on weekends.

bride grabbing a delicious donut custom for elopement

Hire The Perfect Florida Elopement Photographer

Look for a photographer who knows the ins and outs of eloping in Florida, and resonates with your style and personality. As your Florida elopement photographer, I’m here to make sure your love story is told in the most authentic and beautiful way,  all while planning out your elopement day so it’s your version of the best day ever! I’d love to help you plan your day and document each moment with stunning photographs. Send me a message and we can get started ASAP!

I hope this Crystal River, Florida, elopement guide is helpful in your elopement planning journey. If you’re looking for more resources on how to elope in Florida, check out the rest of my blog!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *