Things to do in and around OCALA
Once a historic park, Silver Springs has been turned back to the State. The famous glass bottom boats still take guests out over the springs ( extra fee). And now you can rent a kayak or canoe and explore the area yourself. Very neat when you find yourself paddling with monkeys! This state park also offers hiking, biking, camping, concerts, and summer movies.
Right around the corner from Silver Springs, is the Silver River entrance. Once a separate entity, this park is now considered part of the Silver Springs State Park. Hiking trails, trails to the river, canoe launch, cracker village (weekends only), campground & cabins for rent.
This vast wilderness area north of Ocala in the Ocala National Forest encompasses many swimming hole, springs, campgrounds and more, like:
- Alexander Springs- camping, swimming
- Juniper Springs– swimming, 7- mile canoe run, historic water mill, camping and hiking trails.
- Salt Springs – swimming, camping, and a mineral-rich run out to Lake George.
- Silver Glen- hiking, swimming, water activities
- Mill Dam Recreation Area- lake with beach
Lots of cool springs to explore and snorkel! Entry fees to the recreation areas are per person ($5 plus tax), not per vehicle. And aside from Alexander Springs, which is first come first serve for camping, camping at the other areas must be reserved in advance- visit the park’s website for more details.
Displays inside and outside. Permanent Florida History and art exhibits and changing exhibitions. Children’s activities in an art room.
4. Citizen’s Circle & Downtown Ocala
Citizen’s Circle is a splash pad for younger kids. Downtown town square offers restaurants, galleries and lots of Friday night events like live music and art-walks.
Across from Regal Cinemas and down the road from the Paddock Mall (the premier place to shop in North Central Florida) Grotto, hiking & biking trail, new bike challege course, playground & exercise equipment.
2300 SW 24 Ave, Ocala, FL 34471
Heading west from Ocala (HWY 40 turn left on 41) brings you to the nearby sleepy town of Dunnellon and one of the cleanest swimming holes in the state: Rainbow Springs. Another State Park rescue, Rainbow Springs is a great place to snorkel, kayak, canoe, wander their trails and even picnic with the view of the headsprings.
7. Zip across canyons at the Canyon Zipline and Canyon Tour. This 100 acre adventure park treats visitors to a birds-eye view of lost limestone mining pits, hidden lakes and a part of Florida history that few people experience. Zip lines & horesback rides.
8. A cyclist’s heaven hides under the thick canopy in nearby Belleview at Santos Bike Trails. Bicycling enthusiasts can ride the natural terrain on multi-skill-level tracks, or they can face the boardwalks, ramps and jumps of the challenging Vortex.
And then there’s the food. The choice of Ocala’s eateries is dazzling, from the top end like Marks Prime Steakhouse, La Cuisine, (downtown on the square) to the more laid back like Richard’s Place (just off the square). Here are a few more favorites:
- Former Florida Gator, Tim Tebow’s restaurant. Quick serve. Clean & fast with, friendly staff. Love their hand-washing fountain station! Sandwiches & salads- good for lunch.
- 3410 SW College Road, Ocala, FL 34474
- Near Scott Springs, dine inside or out at this Fresh Food restaurant. Good for lunch. Recommend the Mediterranean Flat bread & Rueben sandwich.
- 2604 Southwest 19th Ave Road, Ocala, FL 34474
- Family favorite. In the Top of the World Publix shopping plaza. Lunch or Dinner. Try the Jimmy Smith roll.
- 8075 SW Hwy 200, Ocala, FL 34481
Crossroads Country Kitchen
- Located on highway 40 in the horse farm area, this is a great place for a southern breakfast. Huge pancakes! Lunch & dinner good too!
- 7947 W Highway 40, Ocala, FL 34482