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Diane with art supplies

Indoor Fun Opportunities for Florida’s Nature Coast

By Florida's Original NatureCoaster™ Posted on October 18, 2018

Do you wonder what to do when it’s raining and humid, but you need to get out and have some fun. Even when it is sunny, hot, and humid in Florida’s Nature Coast, one can get a little stir-crazy. Most of our nature coast activities are outdoors, so what is there to do?

Meet Diana Marsh from Paint the Town Citrus. She is the heartbeat of four businesses in the Crystal River Mall and her energy and charisma provided a solution for our area’s need for indoor fun.

Paint the Town Citrus is a large paint and sip store, where you can visit any day between one and five p.m., except Tuesdays, to create one of hundreds of paintings in the colors you want, guided by an artist. This place takes the “paint and sip” concept to a higher level by providing the ability to choose from hundreds of predesigned paintings, and to customize the colors of your creation to meet your décor.

You can have painting parties of up to 50 people at Paint the Town Citrus. Each person can create the same painting or a different one.

There is the ability to have parties of up to fifty people, complete with beer, wine, sodas and food, creating a painting of your choice. A well-established local artist will be your instructor and all the materials needed for each guest to create their very own painting are included.

There are literally hundreds of paintings to choose from. Here is a link to most of what’s available.

There are classes by local and renown artists. Here is Florida Highwaymen artist Curtis Arnett and two of his students with their creations.

Paint the Town Citrus also has “Paint Your Own Pet” Nights, “Bob Ross” Oil classes, Florida landscape class with Florida Highwayman Curtis Arnett, paint with coffee class, traditional oil painting class, watercolor classes and many more. Their schedule is here. All classes include all the supplies needed to take home a 16” x 20” special project.

The Nature Coast’s largest art gallery is located in the store also, featuring subjects galore from animals to cartoons to landscapes and people. There are over 2,500 pieces of art available – some from famous artists such as the Florida Highwaymen and others from the local artists that provide instruction in the store.

Nicky B’s All-American Restaurant

In the Crystal River Mall is a food court, with Nicky B’s All-American Restaurant offering custom hot dogs such as the Detroit Coney, featuring a Dearborn natural casing hot dog with Detroit style Coney sauce, mustard and chopped onions on a toasted bun. It tastes just like the ones on Grand Avenue in Detroit. There’s the Flint dog, the Chicago dog featuring a Vienna beef frank with relish, pickle, tomato, sports peppers and celery salt in a poppyseed bun, a New Yorker, Green Bay, Cleveland, Seattle and Atlanta dog, which is a bacon-wrapped hot dog with spicy BBQ sauce and cole slaw on a hoagie roll.

This is a true Detroit Coney Dog from Nicky B’s All-American Restaurant. Tastes just like home.

When first hearing about Nicky B’s, the skeptic came out. Having been disappointed at many restaurants that claim a true Detroit Coney, this food court location hit the mark! Root beer floats, make your own dogs, “Poutine,” Greek salad, and several other regional favorites make a fantastic menu that was served with attention to detail. Fresh ingredients and handcrafted hot dogs made a fan out of me.

Creating a painting takes time, so a meal can provide a nice break. At Paint the Town Citrus, they let you take as long as it takes to finish your masterpiece.

However, painting in a store may not be the best thing to do with children who like to move and touch when they create.

Citrus Coastal Creations

Coastal Creations is a great place to take younger people for a fun, creative session. With spin art, sand art, sticker art, plaster painting, and make your own jewelry projects available for walk-ins, your child (or inner child) will feel accomplished when they create their own 3d masterpiece.

Citrus Coastal Creations carries all types of Nature Coast crafted gifts for sale also. Beautiful wearables, linens, jewelry, home décor and more from local crafters are priced nicely so you can shop while your partner-in-crime creates.

There are many amazing gifts at Coastal Creations.

TG Stylz

Then there is TG Stylz, an upscale but relaxed salon where you can get pampered, puffed, beautified and more – and shop the lovely boutique full of clothing and accessories.

TG Stylz is a full-service salon offering spa services like facials, manicures, pedicures, eyelash extensions, permanent makeup, waxing, and even Invisablend® hair thinning treatments.

A nice entrance to a casual but professional salon at TJ Stylz. Creative stylists and a wonderful clothing boutique make a great combo.

Their creativity with hair is phenomenal – color, highlights, cuts, Brazilian blowouts, extensions, dreads, braids, Ombre color and Up dos.

But the clothing boutique makes TG Stylz an even more wonderful find for when you want to look your best from head to toe. Go ahead and stop in to shop and while you are there talk to a stylist about the look you have in mind and “get ‘er done” with style.

My “Paint Your Pet” experience at Paint the Town Citrus

Genesis, my young filly being silly.

I have a six-month old filly named Genesis. She is so adorable and when I found out you could bring a picture of your pet to Paint the Town Citrus, I wanted to paint “Gennie.” I called 352-601-1344 and talked to “Autum,” a local artist who provides Bob Ross painting instruction as well as sells some of her artwork at the onsite gallery.

One of Paint the Town Citrus’ artists draws my photo like a paint by number.

I drove to the Crystal River Mall, just north of the city of Crystal River. When I arrived, I was given a smock and offered a beverage. Meanwhile, my photo was taken to the back room where an artist quickly rough sketched the image onto a 16 x 20 canvas and printed a copy for Autum who would guide me.

Rough sketch with background painted.

I sat down and was given a palette of color on a plate and a handful of brushes. The canvas reminded me of a paint-by-number project of my youth, except there were no numbers and my colors were hand-mixed my Autum.

We had a printed copy of the picture for Autum to guide me with. She mixed the paints for me.

Painting each section with the mixed paint and the appropriate brush, guided with Autum’s technique suggestions, I was comfortable and happy making something that now graces my home and I proudly show to family and friends.

About mid-way, I was offered food because it is part of the “all inclusive” package that Paint the Town Citrus offers. I had eaten lunch before arriving but was talked into a fried ice cream from Nicky B’s. Peaches and cream was the variety I chose, and it was so delicious that I plan to visit just to enjoy that dessert again. After dessert, I always want coffee and that was gladly provided.

Delicious dessert was included in my “All inclusive package.” This is Nicky B’s Fried Ice Cream with peaches and cream toppings. Yes. It tastes as good as it looks!

Honestly, I felt a bit like a celebrity with all the service.

I continued brushing my canvas, turning it to make application easier and talking with my guide. Then she took the canvas and blow dried it! This was so I could make a few final strokes to add texture and light, completing the portrait and – WOW – I am so happy with the results!

Ta! Da! Here is Genesis by me, created with love at Paint the Town Citrus with guidance from Autum. (See how it matches my wall?)

When I left, I was floating on air because I was so proud of my creation. It looks great in my house and I am already planning to go back and do it again in a couple of weeks for another pet (We have 6.)

The Crystal River Mall

All four of these businesses are located in the Crystal River Mall, 1801 US 19 just north of the city of Crystal River. This mall is primarily home to small businesses and has only a Rural King anchor store and a Regal Cinemas movie theater. The center of the mall has a whimsical sail-themed ceiling and there are many events held here, from Trick-or-treat nights to Art Walks. The mall got a bad reputation when its former anchor stores closed, but the owners have stepped up to make it nice again.


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