15 Best Things To Do In Ocala, Florida - Updated 2021

things to do in ocala florida
Kavita
Kavita
Updated

A visit to Florida doesn’t always have to mean Disney World and Key West; you don’t have to be partying it up in Panama City Beach or departing a cruise from Tampa to have a good time (even though all of those things can be fun at some point in your life). Instead, I would suggest a relaxing yet adventure filled vacation in Ocala, Florida. In Ocala you can enjoy the arts by catching a show at the local theater or learn about the rich ~natural history~ of the area through a glass bottom tour in Silver Springs. If you are more of an adrenaline seeker, you can pursue this rush by gliding over the canyons or racing through the meadows. Whatever you desire, the charming city of Ocala has it for you - but be sure to check out these things to do in Ocala, Florida, so you can have a trip with no regrets.

1. Bike or hike around the beautiful Ocala Tuscawilla Park

Ocala Tuscawilla Park
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Ebyabe used under CC BY-SA 3.0

Ocala Tuscawilla Park, located east of downtown, is a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts. The venue features hiking and biking around a duck-filled lake, social activities for all ages, and more. It’s home to the Discovery Science Art Center, offering summer camps and weekly science lessons for kids ages 2 to 12. There’s also an Art Park on-site where you’ll see myriads of eye-catching sculptures amidst natural scenery. The spot also comes with a playground, pavilions for relaxing, restrooms, and an amphitheater.

Ocala Tuscawilla Park

Address: 829 NE Sanchez Ave, Ocala, FL 34470, United States

Website: Ocala Tuscawilla Park

Opening hours: 6am - 6pm (daily)

2. View the exhibits at Flamingo Museum Ste 701

Editor's Note: There's no photo available at the time of writing

Cindy Dunlow, the founder of Flamingo Museum Ste 701, established the museum after setting the Guinness World Record for having the most extensive collection of flamingo-themed items. Today, the quirky museum highlights over 800 objects shaped like the pink birds, which Dunlow has gathered since the 1960s. Some of these pieces include statues, stuffed animals, pillows, and more. You may find the owner on-site, who will be delighted to walk you through exciting stories about her collection.

Flamingo Museum Ste 701

Address: Ocala, FL 34470, United States

Opening hours: Sat: 10am - 4pm; Mon - Fri: 12pm - 5pm (closed on Sun)

3. Appreciate native plants at Fort King National Historic Park

Fort King
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Lisadays used under CC BY-SA 4.0

Fort King National Historic Park is rich in history and features many facilities to grace your day. The venue, named after Colonel William King, an infantry commander, was initially established in 1827 and was used as a military headquarters during the Second Seminole War. You can admire the many native trees and plants from the on-site’s Heritage Teaching Garden. There are also grassy areas to enjoy picnicking. Aside from outdoor activities, the park features a library and an archeological center, highlighting artifacts discovered in the area.

Fort King National Historic Park

Address: 3925 E Fort King St, Ocala, FL 34470, United States

Website: Fort King National Historic Park

Opening hours: 7am - 7pm (daily)

4. Take some time off at Ocala Nature Park

Editor's Note: There's no photo available at the time of writing

Ocala Nature Park in the downtown area is an ideal place to take some moments off the city’s bustle. The serene spot features lots of towering trees, providing shade for picnicking, a pond frequented by ducks, and a playground. It’s dog-friendly, but the pet must be leashed at all times. Anglers will find this place attractive as there’s a deck over the pool to stand and fish. The well-maintained location also has restrooms for your convenience.

Ocala Nature Park

Address: 1600 SE 30th Ave, Ocala, FL 34471, United States

Opening hours: 6am - 6pm (daily)

5. Let the kids have fun at Discovery Center

Editor's Note: There's no photo available at the time of writing

Discovery Center was established in 1997 to provide interactive learning opportunities, spanning science, space, and engineering, to all ages of the public. It was moved to its current location, Tuscawilla Park, in 2009, providing all-around fun activities. The center features four yearly exhibitions, special programs, weekly classes for toddlers, two summer camps, and more. The building’s first level houses friendly animals to see, such as lizards, frogs, and insects. Check their website for information and prices of events, educational workshops, the current exhibit Chain Reaction Charlie, and more.

Discovery Center

Address: 701 NE Sanchez Ave, Ocala, FL 34470, United States

Website: Discovery Center

Opening hours: Tue - Sat: 10am - 4pm (closed on Mon and Sun)

Price: free - 8 USD

6. See the grotto at Scott Springs Park

Editor's Note: Photo taken from the establishment's official social account

Go check out Scott Springs Park to enjoy the new walking trail and new playground.

Posted by City of Ocala Municipal Government on Monday, July 21, 2014

Scott Springs Park is a 22-acre (9-hectare) haven for outdoor enthusiasts. The extensive natural scenery surrounds a pond fed by a spring, walking and biking trails, a boardwalk, and a cave at the edge. There are many shaded grassy areas with grills to enjoy picnicking, and a playground to keep the kids busy as you unwind. Plus, you can hike the natural terrains, bike through the paved paths, or admire the grotto from the boardwalk. However, swimming in the pond is not allowed. You can purchase snacks from the Walmart store near the place’s entrance.

Scott Springs Park

Address: 2825 SW 24th Ave, Ocala, FL 34471, United States

Website: Scott Springs Park

Opening hours: 9am - 7pm (daily)

Price: Free

7. Catch a show at the Ocala Civic Theatre

Theatre
Source: Pixabay

Photo is only for illustrative purposes

The Ocala Civil Theater has graced this Floridian town with high quality shows and events for over 60 years. The theater typically shows performances featuring local members of the Ocala community but often hosts touring companies as well. The theater also offers year-round education programs for hundreds of students as well, and is run entirely on a volunteer basis (it’s actually a registered non profit organization, so you know it’s completely dedicated to the arts). This year, the Civic Theatre is putting on wonderful productions like Mamma Mia and The Foreigner, so be sure to check a show out!

Ocala Civic Theatre

Address: 4337 East Silver Springs Boulevard, Ocala, Florida 34470

Website: Ocala Civic Theatre

8. Take a glass-bottom boat ride at Silver Springs

Silver Springs State Park - Glass-Bottom Boats 2017
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Jackdude101 used under CC BY-SA 4.0

Now it’s time to take your adventure outdoors with a glass bottom boat ride at Silver Springs State Park. The Glass Bottom Boats are one of Ocala’s oldest attractions. You’ll have a chance to peer into the spring and catch a glimpse of the wildlife living beneath the surface.

Tours typically run twice an hour (on the hour and half hour) from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm daily (with the last boat leaving at 6:00 pm). You can make a reservation for the tour, but with so many tours available throughout the day, it’s really not necessary. Tickets start at 11 USD for adults and 10 USD for children between 6 and 12 (5 and under ride free).

Silver Springs Boat Tour

Address: 5656 Silver Springs Blvd. (SR 40), Silver Springs, FL 34488

Website: Silver Springs Boat Tour

9. Stop by Silver River Museum

Ocala Silver River Park Museum films01
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Ebyabe used under CC BY 2.5

Now that you’ve caught a glimpse of what lies under the river, stop by the Silver River Museum to learn about the history of the area. The museum has two exhibit areas split into the “science” of the region and the “history” of the region. The science part of the museum teaches visitors about the geology, paleontology, and even archaeology of Ocala while the other half of the museum has exhibits related to the written history of the area including information on the first European explorers of the area, the first pioneer settlement, and even the first tools.

The museum is open from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm on Saturday and Sunday (there are classes in session during the week.

Silver River Museum

Address: 512 SE 3rd Street, Ocala, FL 34471

Website: Silver River Museum

10. Bring out your artistic side with a visit to the Appleton Museum of Art

Appleton Museum of Art2
Source: Photo by user AppletonMuseum used under CC BY-SA 4.0

The Appleton Museum of Art is truly a piece of art in and of itself. The museum houses a number of galleries within the main building and around the peaceful courtyard. There are a plethora of exhibits ranging from contemporary pre-Columbian art to works of local Floridian artists that relate to their culture and Central Floridian communities.

The gallery is open from Tuesday through Saturday from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm and on Sundays from 12:00 pm to 5:00 pm (Closed on Mondays).

Appleton Museum of Art

Address: 4333 E. Silver Springs Blvd, Ocala, FL 34470

Website: Appleton Museum of Art

11. Admire the architecture in the Ocala Historic District

Ocalahistoricdistrict
Source: Photo by user Ebyabe used under CC BY 2.5

The Ocala Historic District became one of Ocala’s first residential neighborhoods around 1880, and since then has become one of the town’s most prominent neighborhoods. The district lies on Fort King Street, which used to be the town’s major transportation route until the Industrial Revolution and creation of the railroad. The residences on Fort King Street are primarily Queen Anne Revivals, all built before 1910. The streets are also lined with beautiful Life Oak trees and local flora providing a peaceful backdrop to the homeowners. Fort King Street is a wonderful place to walk down to transport yourself to historic Ocala.

Ocala Historic District

Address: 416 Fort King Street, Ocala, FL 34470

Website: Ocala Historic District

12. Zipline over the canyons

Zipline
Source: Needpix

Photo is only for illustrative purposes

Time to get your adrenaline pumping with a zipline tour of the canyons. You will have the chance to soar above glittering lakes, old oak trees, and incredible canyons - and you can do this nine different times, with nine different views. The ziplines are definitely a new way to see the natural history of Ocala.

There are two types of zipline tours available - a full zipline/canopy tour and a canyon express tour. For more information on each of these tours, check out their website.

Zipline over the canyons

Address: 8045 NW Gainesville Rd. (CR 25A) Ocala, FL

Website: Zip the Canyons

13. Horseback ride through the cliffs

Horseback Riding
Source: Pexels

Photo is only for illustrative purposes

Now to bring you back to earth (while still racing along scenic views), or if ziplining isn’t your thing, you can take a tour of the canyons and cliffs of Ocala while on horseback. You will get to take an incredible scenic tour of the lakes, cliff walls, and more on the Canyons Horseback Trail Rides.

Horseback Riding

Address: 8045 NW Gainesville Rd. (CR 25A) Ocala, FL

Website: Horseback Riding

14. Wander around Sholom Park

Park
Source: Pixabay

Photo is only for illustrative purposes

Sholom Park is the perfect place to find a peaceful spot to relax and just admire your surroundings. The park was designed in a way that gracefully combines native plants with exotic flora in breathtaking landscapes. Admission to the park is free, so be sure to check it out.

Sholom Park

Address: 7110 SW 80th Avenue, Ocala, FL 34481

Website: Sholom Park

15. Head over to Marion Country Museum of History & Archaeology for a historical encounter

Editor's Note: There's no photo available at the time of writing

And finally, be sure to learn about the history of Marion County (where you’ll find Ocala) at the Museum of History & Archaeology. The museum features a variety of exhibits and displays that detail the origins of civilizations in the region and how they have evolved to what we currently know as Ocala and Marion County.

Marion Country Museum of History & Archaeology

Address: 307 S.E. 26th Terrace, Ocala, Florida

Website: Marion Country Museum of History & Archaeology

Aren't you excited?

There is just so much to do in Ocala from learning about its enriching history to zooming over the natural beauty; I don’t blame you for wanting to jump into your car right now!

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9 Best Things To Do In Ocala, Florida
Source: Trip101

Frequently asked questions about best things to do in Ocala, Florida

1. What are the top attractions to visit in Ocala?

A total opposite of theme-park-filled Orlando, Ocala is a laidback city that offers its guest a relaxing vacation. The top attractions you can visit here are Sholom Park, Silver Springs, and Fort Kind Street.

2. What are the best outdoor activities in Ocala?

There are plenty of outdoor activities in Ocala that will make you thank yourself for having your holiday here. Some of the best outdoor things to do you can try here include horseback riding to the cliffs of Ocala, ziplining to the canyon, and wandering around Sholom Park.

3. What are the most popular things to do in Ocala with kids?

One of the best gifts you can give to your children is good memories, so make sure you bring them to Silver Springs and ride a glass-bottom boat that will make you easily see the diverse marine life below.

Disclosure: Trip101 selects the listings in our articles independently. Some of the listings in this article contain affiliate links.

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Kavita is an avid traveler, enthusiastic foodie, and aspiring Instagrammer, whose life goal is to renew her passport because she’s maxed out her stamp pages. Kavita’s wanderlust started from a...Read more

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