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. 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 (HWY 40) encompasses many swimming hole, springs, campgrounds and more, like:
- Alexander Springs- camping, swimming
- Juniper Springs– swimming, 9 mile canoe run, historic water mill, camping and hiking trails.
- Salt Springs – swimming, camping
- 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 ($6 as of 2015), 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 parks website for more details.
Displays inside and outside. Permanent Florida History and art exhibits and changing exhibitions. Children’s activities in 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, 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.
And then there’s the food. The choice of Ocala’s eateries are dazzling, from the top end like Marks Prime Steakhouse (downtown on the square) to the more laid back like Richard’s Place (just off the square). Here’s 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
9. Grace’s Sushi
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
10. 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