Touring Silver Springs in an iconic glass bottom boat
Zip lining across Big Cliff Canyon at The Canyons Zip Line and Adventure Park
Aerial view of the blue waters of Silver Glen Springs
A jockey and horse competing in the annual Live Oak International equestrian competition
The exterior of the Appleton Museum of Art
The Fort King National Historic Landmark
Biking singletrack at Santos Trailhead
Ocala’s charming Historic Downtown Square
Admiring a waterfall at Rainbow Springs State Park
A statue of equine war hero Sergeant Reckless at the World Equestrian Center
A hidden gem that boasts otherworldly outdoor environments and equestrian activity in North Central Florida
Scenic Natural Wonders
Relishing the great outdoors is easy in Ocala/Marion County, especially if you’re drawn to the water. The stunning artesian springs that give Silver Springs State Park its name are both captivating and historical. Take a tour in a glass-bottom boat to get an unbeatable view of underwater life in these azure depths. You may spot manatees, many species of fish and even sunken boats. Or, rent a canoe, kayak or stand-up paddleboard to make your way down the pristine Silver River. For a refreshing dip, head to Rainbow Springs State Park, where the water remains at an ideal 22°C year-round. It’s the perfect temperature to enjoy swimming, snorkeling, diving, tubing and paddling in the unbelievably clear headsprings of the Rainbow River. Just downriver, KP Hole® Park is another idyllic family-friendly spot to spend the day. And in the Ocala National Forest, home to more than 200 square kilometers of waterways and springs, there is a wealth of recreational opportunities. After hiking, biking, paddling, bird watching or camping, cool off in the enticing waters of Silver Glen Springs, Juniper Springs and Salt Springs.
If your idea of outdoor fun is more fast paced than a leisurely swim, you won’t be disappointed in Ocala/Marion County. Head to The Canyons Zip Line and Adventure Park to tap into your daring side. With nine zip lines, some over 335 meters long, you’ll soar across the sky through shaded canopies and stunning canyons, taking in the views over sparkling lakes. The park also offers horseback riding, kayaking and gem mining. Internationally recognized for its mountain biking trails, Santos Trailhead features more than 125 kilometers of paved and unpaved singletrack. Offerings range from beginner-friendly trails to twisting routes that challenge experienced riders, making for an exhilarating way to immerse yourself in the natural Florida landscapes.
Florida’s Horse Country
A world-renowned equestrian destination, Ocala/Marion County has more than 600 horse farms that breed and train champions in racing and equestrian competitions. To get the full equine experience, you can tour a farm, enjoy a leisurely carriage ride through rolling pastures, go horseback riding or attend one of the many competitions and shows. The calendar is especially full during equestrian season from mid-December through March, and the World Equestrian Center plays host to much of the activity. This massive complex offers a full day of fun for everyone, with shopping, restaurants, exposition centers, a pub, horse and dog shows, a luxury hotel and more.
Rich History and Culture
Dig into the roots of the area with a self-guided historic walking tour in downtown Ocala, strolling by façades from the city’s past. Old mixes with new thanks to eclectic boutiques, fantastic restaurants and impressive galleries, plus you’ll find the Ocala Downtown Market on Saturdays. Cultural highlights around town include Tuscawilla Art Park, Reilly Arts Center and the Appleton Museum of Art, where you can explore exhibits ranging from European paintings and modern sculptures to centuries-old artifacts and work from Florida artists. For a history lesson, visit Fort King National Historic Landmark to learn about this former military post’s role in the Seminole War, explore a scale replica and walk the interpretive trail.
Six Kentucky Derby winners have come from Marion County’s thoroughbred horse farms, including Triple Crown winner Affirmed in 1978.
Dating back to the 1870s, the glass-bottom boat rides at Silver Springs State Park are considered one of Florida’s first tourist attractions.
The Ocala National Forest is home to the world's largest population of Florida scrub-jays, red-cockaded woodpeckers, Sherman's fox squirrels and Florida sand skinks.