22 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 worldwide.

The natural beauty will captivate you with its stunning resplendence.

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

Interested to know more about this place?

Here are the 22 best things to do in Ocala, Florida:

Reminisce the Old Days at 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 was a proud hallmark of those times.

Helvenston house at Ocala Historic District
Ebyabe, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

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.

Bullock house at Ocala Historic District
Ebyabe, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Explore the Selections at The Corkscrew Winery and Brewery

With the brewery side of the business providing delicious craft beer and the winery offering some of Florida's finest wines, this one-stop shop has something for everyone.

Located downtown Ocala, The Corkscrew Winery and Brewery offers a warm, inviting atmosphere with beers on tap at all times.

There are many wines to choose from - from local favorites to international varieties.

There are plenty of selections, and each is brewed with top-quality ingredients and care.

In addition, they provide a place for private gatherings, wine, and beer bars, Paint and Sip workshops, live entertainment, and group winemaking lessons.

Be Amazed by the Architecture of the Appleton Museum of Art

Exterior of 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.

An exhibit in Appleton Museum of Art
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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 its many endeavors support local Florida artists.

Statue in front of Appleton Museum of Art
Ebyabe, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Watch a Live Event at Reilly Arts Center

Reilly Arts Center provides various entertainment options to the community and has hosted plays, musical performances, art displays, conferences, and its decades of existence.

The 705-seat theater, which has cutting-edge audio and production tools, offers diverse events and has established itself as an artistic center in Ocala.

In the spring of 2022, the Community Music Conservatory opened in the Reilly Arts Center.

In addition to hosting live events such as plays or concerts, Reilly Arts Center also offers educational programs throughout the year.

These programs allow children to experience local culture through story-telling or hands-on art projects.

Admire the Scenic Views at 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.

The waters of Ocala National Forest
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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.

A bird at Ocala National Forest
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Go Grocery Shopping at Earth Fare

Earth Fare in Ocala is an excellent shop for healthy, natural foods.

Offering an array of items such as organic produce, humanely raised meat and dairy products, grains, and cereals – Earth Fare is the go-to destination for health-conscious shoppers.

The selection at Earth Fare goes beyond traditional grocery stores.

Customers can find bulk items such as nuts and grains, fresh seafood options, and locally made products like honey.

This store has everything from vegan snacks to natural health supplements and personal care products!

View the Exhibits at the Marion County Museum of History and Archaeology

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

The Marion County 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 fascinating tours of the Fort King Trail on the surrounding grounds.

Pay a Visit to The World Equestrian Center

The World Equestrian Center has become a central equestrian hub for several years.

The center has attracted top competitors from all disciplines, including dressage, show jumping, hunters & jumpers, eventing, driving, and more.

In addition to five climate-controlled indoor arenas, the 300-acre property has 15 outdoor rings, providing plenty of room for competition and shelter from bad weather.

The on-site lodging and food choices are provided during the fair season for both visitors and exhibitors.

Along with world-class facilities, the center is located just minutes from downtown Ocala and has easy access to major interstates and highways.

Embark on a Journey with the Farm Tours of Ocala

Farm Tours of Ocala offers an educational experience for visitors looking to explore the world of agriculture.

Visitors will get a glimpse into rural life and be able to learn about the agricultural processes that create the food we eat.

Get up close with the farm animals, visit local farms, and pick fresh fruits and vegetables.

From horseback riding to hayrides, each tour is tailored to ensure an enjoyable experience for all ages.

The tours include milk-tasting sessions at a dairy farm or visits to a citrus grove where you can learn about different varieties of fruit and how it's harvested.

Feel the Rush at The Canyons Zip Line and Adventure Park

If you are a thrill-seeker, you must ride the exciting Canyons Zip Line and Adventure Park that stretches 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.

Discover more about Racing at 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 is a member.

The museum's mission is to carry forward the rich past of drag racing into the future, and the antique collection features unique Ford cars.

Soak in the Natural Beauty of the Sholom Park

A pavilion at Sholom Park
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The Sholom Park is an excellent Botanical garden home to various 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 spreading public awareness about the idea.

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

Drop by the Tasting Room at Katya Vineyards

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

You can sip on the choices of 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.

Catch a Show at Ocala Civic Theatre

You can enjoy intense drama or outrageous comedy at one of the great productions of the Ocala Civic Theatre 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 many performers, but the Florida Civic Theatre also features several touring artists.

Wander around the Gypsy Gold Horse Farm

A pony at 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 from England in 1995.

Along with his wife, Cindy, Dennis 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.

Other Things to Do Nearby

Dive into the Salt Springs Recreation Area

The waters of Salt Springs
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Salt Springs Recreation Area is yet another first-magnitude spring that lies 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.

Go for a Swim at Alexander Springs Recreational Area

The waters of 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 hi-tech gear and scuba dive into the deep seas to glimpse the rich marine life.

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

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

Explore the Waters at Juniper Springs Recreation Area

Daytime view of Juniper Springs
Rafal Michal Gadomski / Shutterstock.com

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

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

The vast spring stretches over 130 feet long and spans over 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!

Go Kayaking at Silver Springs State Park

A glass bottom boat at 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 Florida.

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

Kayakers at Silver Springs State Park
Fsendek / Shutterstock.com

You can also take a kayak to enjoy further pleasure.

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

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

Kayaking at Silver Springs State Park
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Finish a Hike at the Withlacoochee State Forest

Tall trees at 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 State 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.

Prepare to Be Allured at the 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 for 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.

People swimming at Rainbow Springs State Park
IrinaK / Shutterstock.com

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 boat types to soar over the sea waters!

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

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

A trail at Rainbow Springs State Park
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Feel the Breeze at Carney Island Recreation & Conservation 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.

Final Thoughts

Ocala, FL, is a great place to visit and explore its many attractions.

You may discover activities for all interests, from the Appleton Museum of Art to Silver Springs State Park.

Ocala provides entertainment for everyone, whether you're searching for a quiet weekend break or an exciting excursion.

So don't wait any longer – it's time to explore the best of what Ocala offers!

Discover More of Marion County, FL

Things to Do in Silver Springs, FL

Things to Do in Dunnellon, FL

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