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Things To Do In Ocala

Explore Florida’s natural beauty in the city of Ocala. It has rolling green pastures, calm rivers and horses abundant in areas that resemble the Kentucky bluegrass. The Ocala is also close to natural wonders, such as deep canyons and forests. Keep reading to find the best things to do in this city.

Ocala is known as the Horse Capital of the World. A visit to the city is incomplete without a horseback tour. When done, book a glass bottom boat ride at Silver Springs State Park, which is one of the city’s oldest attractions.

The best things to do in Ocala include:

  • Visiting Cactus Jack’s Trail Rides, which takes people on guided rides through Cross Florida Greenway State Park
  • Trying BG Trail Rides, which takes people past the historic land bridge and sand dunes in Florida Horse Park
  • Stopping by the the Silver River Museum
  • Visiting the Appleton Museum of Art
  • Walking through Fort King National Historic Park

The cheap or free things to do in Ocala begin with exploring the nature-filled city. Silver Springs State Park does a free tour of the forest on the first Sunday of the month called the “Florida Safari.” This tour passes by native deer, fox squirrels, and turkeys.

Some cheap activity ideas near Ocala include:

  • Walking through the Ocala Historic District
  • Happy Hour at Harry’s Seafood Bar & Grille
  • After Dark in the Park movie series
  • Explore the First Friday Art Walk in downtown Ocala
  • Visit Shalom Park, which is a 44-acre botanical garden that offers free entry

The tourist attractions in Ocala are mostly historical or cultural. Visitors should make time for the Appleton Museum of Art, which has one of the largest displays of European art in the state. The museum also has a peaceful courtyard for people to sit and relax. Plus, there’s festivals, rare horses, and parks to explore.

Popular attractions near Ocala include:

  • Heading to to Silver Springs State Park for the best Instagram-worthy views
  • Seeing the rare horses at Gypsy Gold Horse Farm
  • Visiting the Don Garlits Museum of Drag Racing
  • Touring the Marion County Museum of History & Archaeology
  • Attending the annual Oktoberfest at Tuscawilla Park

Trails are only the start of the fun things to do in Ocala. Lace up your hiking shoes and trek through the Belleview-Santos Trail. This trail is a 4.5-mile loop and it goes through forest and swamp areas. If you want to see Ocala from a different perspective, try exploring the trail on bike or horseback.

Exciting activities near Ocala include:

  • Bowling at AMF Galaxy East or West Lanes
  • Looking at Victorian architecture in the Ocala Historic District
  • Going bass fishing at one of the many Ocala lakes
  • Checking out the performances at the Ocala Civic Theater
  • Stopping by The Lunchbox, a local favorite for lunch

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Ocala comes alive at night.Book a reservation at the Braised Onion, a comfort food eatery with classics such as meatloaf and chicken pot pie. For other fun things to do at night in Ocala, look for bars, pool halls, or comedian acts nearby.

Nighttime activities near Ocala include:

  • Dining on the balcony at Pi on Broadway
  • Tasting a local beer at Infinite Ale Works
  • Playing pool at Boulevard Billiards
  • Watching a performance at The Ocala Civic Theater
  • Heading to the Bonkerz Comedy Club for a night full of laughs

When the clock strikes 5 on a Friday, locals start the party. Ocala even has things to do this weekend for visitors, like booking a tour of the Ocala Wildlife Sanctuary. The sanctuary takes in a variety of animals for rehabilitation such as deer, owls, and raccoons. Residents also like to book a staycation by renting a campsite at Wild Frontier Campground. This family-owned spot has an outdoor pool and WiFi.

Weekend activities near Ocala include:

  • Taking a day trip to Ocala National Forest
  • Going line dancing at the Forest Community Center in Sandhill Park
  • Listening to acoustic sets during Picking’ in the Park at Silver Springs State Park
  • Touring the farm at Crones’ Cradle Conserve
  • Fox Den Tavern is the place to be for weekend brunchers

For thrifty parents, it’s easy to find things to do with kids in Ocala. This city is full of public parks with easy hikes fit for the whole family. Silver Springs State Park offers a Sunday Ranger Program, where on every Sunday kids can learn about the park and the local environment. The city also has a movie series called After Dark in the Park, which shows family-friendly films in the evenings.

Family-friendly things to do near Ocala include:

  • Touching animals at the Petting Zoo Ocala
  • Going to the playground at Brick City Adventure Park
  • Eating a sundae at Twistee Treat Ocala
  • Learning about science at the Ocala Discovery Center
  • Visiting the Easy Street Family Fun Center

Love is in the Florida air — there are many romantic things to do when it comes to date night in Ocala. For instance, this city is one of the few in the U.S. that has a drive-in theater. The Ocala Drive In offers two feature movies for the low price of $6 for adults who pay cash.

Date night ideas near Ocala include:

  • Dinner at La Cuisine French Restaurant
  • Line dancing lessons at the Forest Community Center
  • Get a couple’s massage at The Ranch Fitness Center and Spa
  • Enjoy a romantic picnic at Shalom Park
  • Enjoy a wine tasting at the Ocala Wine Experience

There’s no shortage of group activities in Ocala. One option is taking a famous glass-bottomed boat ride at Silver Springs. The boats fit up to 26 patrons, and it takes multiple trips throughout the day. People can get closer to nature at the park by renting kayaks. Teams can put their heads together and come up with the best answers during trivia night at Terry’s Place.

Things to do with your friends near Ocala include:

  • Bottomless mimosas at The Crazy Cucumber
  • Horseback riding through the canyons
  • Sampling the beers at Infinite Ale Works
  • Racing go-karts at Easy Street Family Fun Center
  • Touring The Silver Springs River

Temperatures can rise quickly in Florida. That’s why Ocala has made great strides to balance outdoor activities with plenty of indoor activities. The city has several museums, such as the Silver River Museum, the Appleton Museum of Art, and the Discovery Center.

Ocala things to do indoors include:

  • Toning the body at Power Yoga Ocala
  • Getting the spa treatment at Azulene Day Spa
  • Taking a pottery class at Picasso’s Palette
  • Eating a quick snack at Symmetry Coffee Crepes
  • Attending a performance at Reilly Arts Center

Ocala is the place to be for the outdoorsy type. Visitors can start by taking a tour of the city’s architecture during the day or going on a ghost walk at night.

Active things to see in Ocala include:

  • Camping at Ocklawaha Prairie Restoration Area
  • Scuba diving at Paradise Springs
  • Rock climbing at Easy Street Family Fun Center
  • Horseback riding through Cactus Jack’s Trail Rides
  • Stepping it up a notch by renting a canoe or kayak and paddling down the Silver River.

Seeing the tourist sites is fun, but some of the best activities in Ocala are only found when you stray from the path. This city is home to the Official Florida Flamingo Museum, which holds the Guinness World Record for its pink flamingo collection. Ocala has the nation’s first land bridge, which connects the east and west sides of the Marjorie Harris Carr Cross Florida Greenway.

Must-see places near Ocala include:

  • Barbecue at Brick City Southern Kitchen
  • Listening to live music at O'Malley's Alley
  • Indian cuisine at Amrit Palace
  • Making your own wine at Corkscrew Winery
  • Finding your new favorite nature spot in Ocala National Forest