15 Best Things to Do in Ocala, FL

View of Lake George, Ocala National Forest
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Ocala is a significant city in Florida teeming with fantastic activities for visitors.

You can enjoy beautiful natural environments, impressive historical sites, and the world-famous horses of Ocala on your holiday here.

The museums narrate the history of Ocala from its time as an early Indian occupation to being officially included in the United States in 1821.

The modern form of the city was established in 1849 when it was renamed Ocala, meaning "Kingdom of the Sun.

"The horses of Ocala have been famous for a long time, and the city has been kind in nurturing some of the finest varieties of steed in its excellent stables.

The first thoroughbred horse farm opened in Ocala in 1943, and now, the city enjoys an enviable reputation as the "Horse Capital of the World.

" It also hosts the annual HITS show, which draws hordes of equine lovers from all over the world.

The natural beauty will captivate you with its stunning resplendence.

You will be thoroughly energized by roaming around its pine forests and sailing over the clear waters of the seas.

We have collected the Top 18 things to do on your trip to Ocala to make it a truly memorable one.

Ocala Historic District

Burford House in Ocala Historic District
Ebyabe, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

One of the historical marvels of the city is the Ocala Historic District.

The magnificent Fort King Street is the oldest neighborhood in Ocala, going back to 1880.

You can enjoy strolls on the boulevards lined with oak trees and relive the history being retold by observing the buildings on either side.

The Queen Anne Revival residence was built in 1910 and stood as a proud hallmark of those times.

Ocala street is one of the places that you must visit.

The Fort King Road was also instrumental in connecting Silver Springs and Fort King ports and enabling critical transport.

It is a densely populated residential area in the town.

Ocala Street has also reserved its spot on the National Register.

Appleton Museum of Art

Appleton Museum of Art
AppletonMuseum, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

For art lovers, a visit to the elegant Appleton Museum of Art is one of the best things to try in Ocala.

The building is an architectural marvel, and the marble facade in the classical Italian style is a sight to watch.

The museum was established in 1882 when Arthur Appleton gifted his art collection.

There are over 18000 exquisite pieces of artwork in myriad art styles, including European, African and Contemporary.

The museum also makes a special effort to ensure that its many endeavors support local Florida artists.

Ocala National Forest

Boardwalk in Ocala National Forest
Rafal Michal Gadomski / Shutterstock.com 

Enjoy panoramic views of the landscape by wandering in the Ocala National Forest.

The Balck Bear Scenic Byway is a special zone for you to watch beautiful landscapes and enjoy exotic wildlife species such as Black bears, alligators, and boars.

You could take refreshing swims in the pools or camp around in the many locations available.

Also, they provide high-quality horses to enable you to explore the forest on horseback.

Alexander Springs

Alexander Springs
Thomas Decot / Shutterstock.com

The Alexander Springs Recreational Area is famous for its pearl blue waters that offer many exciting activities for travelers.

You could plunge into the inviting waters and enjoy relaxing swims.

Pack up with the hi-tech gear and scuba dive into the deep seas to catch a glimpse of the rich marine life.

Hike around on the remarkable trails around the region while enjoying beautiful views all around.

The springs in this area are noticeable for their clear warm waters and sandy bottoms.

Juniper Springs

Juniper Springs
Rafal Michal Gadomski / Shutterstock.com

Juniper Springs is a first-magnitude spring, and people enjoy camping in the area around it.

The springs are situated in the heart of the Juniper Recreational Area, and the waters are pretty warm at an impressive 72 degrees.

The vast spring stretches over 130 feet in length and spans more than 80 feet in width.

You can enjoy soothing shades of the tall drooping trees lining the concrete boundary wall.

If you enjoy canoeing, you must attempt the challenging 5 hour Juniper Run through the Big Scrub.

Even seasoned canoers find it challenging to navigate.

You’ll certainly appreciate the challenge!

Marion County Museum

Marion County Museum
DanTD, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

This Museum of History and Archaeology first opened its door to the public in 2011.

The exhibits display the 13000-year history of the region, which was ridden with great tragedy amidst spells of prosperous abundance.

You can go on incredibly exciting tours of the Fort King Trail located on the surrounding grounds.

Salt Springs

Salt Springs
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Salt Springs is yet another first-magnitude spring that lies to the east of Ocala in the middle of the Ocala National Forest.

The area has semi-tropical growth that is interesting to explore.

The spring has salt in its waters and hence its name.

You can snorkel and enjoy the views of the wide variety of fish.

You can even dive with your whole family as the spring is shallow and poses no safety risk.

Canyons Zip Line

If you are a thrill-seeker, you must ride the exciting Canyons Zip Line that stretch over a tall cliff at over 155 feet above ground level.

The zip line is incredibly long - 1,150 feet over the Lost Spring Lake lying below.

You can spot two grand canyons and four majestic lakes below from your high vantage point on the zip line.

The visuals from this height can be stunning.

Many companies organize tours on this zip line.

You could book one with the Big Cliff Canyon, Sky Hogh Tour, Treetop Express, and Full Moon Night Tour.

Withlacoochee State Forest

Withlacoochee State Forest
Suzanna Ruby / Shutterstock.com

Another natural treasure in the heart of Florida and the third-largest forest in the state, the Withlacoochee Forest spreads over 155,000 acres of dense greenery.

The region provides the perfect trails to enjoy refreshing hikes.

It is one of the famous hikes in the 241 miles long Florida Trail, and you must attempt to complete this hike.

An attractive area is the Croom Motorcycle zone within these forests.

Dan Garlits Museum of Drag Racing

Automobile lovers enjoy a moto fest by visiting the Don Garlits Museum of Drag Racing.

You can learn the rich history of drag racing at this museum by taking a guided 2-hour long tour.

The museum's two enormous buildings house a collection of over 300 cars.

The museum also hosts the International Drag Racing Hall of Fame, and Garlits himself is a member.

The museum has a stated mission to carry forward the rich past of drag racing into the future, and the antique collection features unique Ford cars.

Rainbow Springs State Park

Waterfall at Rainbow Springs State Park
Irinak / Shutterstock.com

Located near Dunnellon, the magnificent Rainbow Springs State Park is heaven for nature lovers to spend endless hours exploring.

Spread over 1000 acres of greenery, this park is many million years old and one of the tourist hotspots in Ocala.

The entry fee of this zone is only $2, and you could put it on your itinerary to enjoy exciting pleasures on a budget.

The park tends to be overcrowded, especially on weekends, and we recommend you reach here early for maximum fun.

The springs at the beach are immensely alluring for you to take a deep plunge in.

You can also borrow a kayak, canoe, or other types of boat to soar over the sea waters!

The area houses majestic man-made waterfalls and gardens for you to relax to your heart’s fill.

An additional perk is the delicious ice cream available at the in-house stall!

Sholom Park

The Sholom Park is an excellent Botanical garden home to a wide variety of green plants.

Covering an area of 44 acres, you explore over 100 rare species of plants.

The place has a serene ambiance and is an ideal spot to enjoy relief from the hustle-bustle of city life.

Some plants are natively found in Central Florida conditions.

They have also added elegant trees and colorful flowers to enhance the natural beauty of green plants.

Sholom Park is committed to conservation and spread public awareness about the idea.

They charge no fee to visit their park, and for travelers on a budget, Sholom Park is an excellent destination in Ocala.

Carney Island Recreation Area

Carney Island Recreational and Conservational Area has been used as a rich agricultural zone since the 1600s.

Coca-Cola acquired the area before it sold it to Marion County in the 1990s.

This thralling natural region of over 750 acres is interlaced with wetland systems and walking trails.

You can spot exciting wildlife as you crisscross the area while enjoying the cooling breeze among old pine trees.

Lake Weir has a dedicated swimming zone popular among the locals to enjoy a quick refreshing dip.

Katya Vineyards

Katya Vineyards craft delicious wines from their in-house grown grapes.

You can sip on the choices wines at their tasting room while breathing in the aroma of the surrounding orchards.

Katya Vineyards use a hybrid variety of grapes that thrive in the Florida climate.

You can enjoy mouth-watering food with your wines from the rich menu, including fresh Burrata, Black Angus Tartar, Ahi Sushi, and seared scallops.

Silver Springs State Park

Silver Springs State Park
Sorin Popa / Shutterstock.com

Silver Springs State Park is unique in providing rides on glass-bottomed boats over the gorgeous waters of its springs.

The tradition of roaming these large springs dates back to 1870 and is the signature attraction in Ocala and Florida.

The views of the rich marine life through clear waters can be an experience for a lifetime.

You can also take a kayak to enjoy further pleasure.

The Silver River Museum and Environmental Education Center is an educational center and organizes hands-on learning programs for visitors.

You can gain in-depth knowledge of the natural landscapes and history of Marion County in these.

Florida Civic Theatre

You can enjoy intense drama or outrageous comedy at one of the great productions of the Florida Civic Theater inside the Appleton Cultural Center.

The Theater has been regaling drama-lovers with impressive productions for over 60 years.

They started from humble beginnings by hosting their first shows in the Marion Theater and the Ocala High School before earning their spurs as one of the top 30 theaters in the entire country.

Local Ocala citizens form a significant number of the performers, but the Florida Civic Theatre also features several touring artists.

Gypsy Gold Horse Farm

Gypsy Gold Horse Farm
AaronBarlow, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Gypsy Gold Horse Farm started when Dennis Thompson became fascinated with a rare breed of high-quality black and white horses and exported 16 of them from England in 1995.

Along with his wife, Cindy, Dennis then had the breed recognized as the Gypsy Vanner.

You can watch these impressive steeds by walking around the farm on specific weekdays.

You can alternatively reserve your seat on a private tour to take a closer look at these amazing animals and interact with the passionate owners.

The Blue Wagyu Ocala

Wagyu beef is famous for its soft texture and delicious flavor that has won its many admirers worldwide.

You can eat authentic Wagyu beef at the Blue Wagyu restaurant.

They procure their Wagyu beef locally from Marion County itself, and their expert chefs then weave in their magic to provide you with great culinary delights.

Their specialty Wagyu burger comes with a rich side dish of crunchy French fries.

You can also try pizzas, sandwiches, and salads that they prepare with freshly plucked produce.

Blue Wagyu vary their menu with the season, and you would find something new on your every visit.

For lovers of authentic meat, Blue Wagyu ticks all the boxes.

Ocala in Florida is remarkable for the high quality of its steed and the many natural marvels it offers.

Its excellent museums add a dash of history to make it the ideal holiday destination.

The city also features many sites for travelers on a budget to enjoy.

No matter your tastes, a rocking time awaits you on your trip to Ocala.

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