Old Homosassa’s Easy Vibe

By Diane Bedard Posted on May 10, 2023

Homosassa, Florida is a small, waterfront fishing community along the Homosassa River in Citrus County. The population was 2,294 in the 2020 census. Old Homosassa is the historic area of Homosassa on both sides of the Homosassa River.

There are several resorts, waterfront restaurants, fishing charters, scalloping charters, and two State Parks: the Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park and the Yulee Sugar Mill Ruins in Old Homosassa.

There is a boat ramp to access Homosassa River at the end of West Yulee Drive, a boat parking area, and a Veterans Memorial in the Old Homosassa area. Florida Senator David W. Yulee lived in Homosassa until the Civil War.

Nestled in heavy forest between US 19 and the Gulf of Mexico is a magical area of Citrus County: Old Homosassa.

Watered by several spring fed rivers, Citrus County residents and visitors enjoy the area’s great natural beauty, small town charm and myriad of outdoor activities.

Yulee Sugar Mill Ruins boiling vats and smokestack at the Yulee Sugar Mill State Park in Homosassa by Barrett Hardy.

Homosassa is the home of the Yulee Sugar Mill State Park, Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs State Wildlife Park, Monkey Island, and Old Homosassa. A delightful fishing village, Homosassa has been considered a sports lover’s paradise since the early 1900s. In fact, it is known for its record-breaking tarpon catches!

It was a destination for wealthy and prominent Americans such as Grover Cleveland, Thomas Edison, John Jacob Astor and Winslow Homer.

Homosassa is a Fishing Community with a Working Waterfront

Save the Homosassa River Alliance
The Homosassa River is a designated Florida Outstanding Waterway. Image by Diane Bedard.

There are fourth-generation fishing captains in Homosassa. The word Homosassa comes from the Seminole for “river of fishes,” and Old Homosassa residents are proud to maintain their tradition.

In 2020, the Old Homosassa Heritage Park and Working Waterfront Park was opened along the Homosassa River. This park is the result of the Old Homosassa Civic Club and its community spirit, with a mission to provide waterfront access to all.

In late 2017, then-Senator Wilton Simpson advised the committee to complete the application for the Stan Mayfield Working Waterfront Grant that was designed for this type of property. 

On July 7, 2020, the Homosassa Civic Club was able to purchase the property at 5380 S. Boulevard Drive, Homosassa. The site of Shelly’s Seafood Market, Wild Sassa food trailer, and several boat slips which will all remain. The park is “dedicated in perpetuity to the use of the general public for conservation, protection and enhancement of working waterfronts and related activities.”

There is no swimming from this park; there is no public boat ramp; and there is no vehicle with trailer parking at this park. An 80-year-old Cracker house on the property will be developed into the “Old Homosassa Heritage Museum” as grants and donations are attained. 

Old Homosassa is a Great Getaway

General resorts, B & Bs and RV parks make Old Homosassa a fun and easy weekend getaway for NatureCoasters™.

Not only are the land and sea beautiful and bountiful, but the people are also friendly and accomodating. There is great food, from pressed Cubans to fresh locally caught seafood, all-you-can-eat crab and Cajun delights at reasonable prices.

Several talented artists reside here, creating and selling their wares in quaint “cracker” homes converted to gift shops,  studios and resort lobbies.

copper fish art with ryan jenkins
Ryan Jenkins is a second-generation Old Homosassa artist seen here with one of his copper fish – a 7-foot tarpon! Image courtesy of Copper Fish Art.

Potters, glass artists, copper sculptors, painters, and carvers seem to be drawn to this natural area with its abundance of native flora and fauna.

Scalloping and Fishing are Popular Activities in Old Homosassa

From the last part of June to the last part of September each year, you can go “scalloping” with a charter and hunt for these tasty morsels with a snorkel mask and a bag for your bounty. If you don’t feel you need the help of a professional to hunt your scallop bounty, feel free to bring your own vessel, dive flag, net bag for your catch and snorkeling gear.

The healthy seagrass beds of this area provide a home to Bay Scallops, a simple, delectable, aquatic bivalve. (See our feature article on Scalloping here!)

Scalloping is huge out of Homosassa. Jump in and try it. You’re gonna LOVE it! Image courtesy of Florida Fish and Wildlife.

Fishing is plentiful on the Homosassa River, as are manatee sightings, kayaks, pontoons, and airboat rides. Homosassa’s waters are well-known for their record-breaking snook. Captain William Toney writes a weekly fishing report for NatureCoaster. You can find them here.

captain william toney
Captain William Toney is a fourth-generation Homosassa fishing guide. He provides our weekly Homosassa Inshore Fishing Report. Image courtesy of Captain William Toney.

Several big fishing tournaments are held in Homosassa throughout the year!

There is often live music on the weekends at several Old Homsassa locations, including MacRae’s Shed, the Florida Cracker Monkey Bar, and Crump’s Landing.

Sarasota Slim Band playing at The Shed on the Homosassa River.
Sarasota Slim Band playing at The Shed on the Homosassa River. Image by Diane Bedard

Meet Florida’s Native Wildlife at the Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park

Did I forget to mention the Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park?

For a small admission ($13) you will see manatees and a vortex of thousands of native Florida fish, bobcats, panthers, alligators, snakes, river otters and birds, birds, birds – including American Bald Eagles. And you can be treated to a boat ride from the Visitor Center on US 19 down Pepper Creek with friendly captains and some interesting narrative for only $3/per person.

The whole community seems to volunteer at the Wildlfie Park, which adds to the warm feeling I get every time I visit. You will too.

Manattee statue in front of Homosassa Springs Wildllife park
Manattee statue at the front of Homosassa Springs Wildllife park. Image by David Collins.

Homosassa’s community is a joy to visit, so plan to take a trip off the beaten path of US 19 and enjoy this thriving enclave today.



Rick Gaudette says

Great place been going there since the early 80’s

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