If you’re looking to spend time getting back to nature and having some fun in the sun, Florida is the perfect place to do so. Boasting 81 distinct biological communities and 4,200 unique species of plants, Florida has some of the most beautiful and unspoiled nature in the country. North Central Florida, and specifically the Ocala/Marion County area offers a variety of outdoor activities for the whole family to enjoy. From hiking to boating to zip-lining and everything in between, there is plenty to keep you as in-touch with nature as you’d like to be. Browse below for a variety of ideas to jump-start your next outdoor adventure:
Beneficial to both the mind and body, hiking is the perfect way to experience some of Florida’s most breath-taking sights. Ocala itself is home to over 200 miles of trails, perfect for biking, hiking, and more. Whether you’re a day hiker or a backpacker, Ocala and the surrounding Marion County area features a variety of trails that can keep you out and exploring. Just be sure to be well-equipped and stay hydrated: summer temperatures can often raise to 85 degrees or higher.
Located in Indian Lake State Forest, this looped 1.6 mile trail provides scenic views and a first-hand look at the diverse habits of Central Florida.
7728, 8126 NE 58th Ave, Silver Springs, FL 34488
Holly Hammock Hiking Trail
Scenic panoramas on this shady 2.4 mile loop show of the diverse habitats within Ross Prairie State Forest.
10660 SW State Rd 200, Dunnellon, FL 34432
Johnson Pond Trail
Part of Withlacoochee State Park near Citrus Springs, this 2.7 mile trail loops through rosemary scrub.
3033 E Withlacoochee Trail, Dunnellon, FL 34434
Horse Trails in Marion County
Ocala, Florida is called Horse Capital of the World and Horse Country for plenty of reasons: the perfect climate for year-round training, raising, and breeding, the numerous horse operations in the area, and several active competitions that take place here are only the tip of the proverbial iceberg. With this in mind, it should come as no surprise that there are plenty of opportunities to explore Central Florida on horseback. Whether you’re a beginner or an expert rider, there’s a trail out there perfect for what you’re looking for.
Something every Floridian knows is that Florida gets hot. At the height of summer, even swimming pools can begin to feel like bath water. Luckily, Central Florida is home to a bevy of natural springs that are crystal-clear and roughly 72 degrees all year long. The perfect way to cool down during the warmest time of year, these springs also allow for some of the most stunning views in the area. Just be sure to apply sunscreen regularly!
Central Florida has no shortage of quality fishing spots, perfect for relaxing in peace. While a valid Florida fishing license is required in order to fish, there are several license options for both visitors and residents to suit your needs. For more information on fishing licenses, click here. And if freshwater fishing isn’t exactly your speed, the good news is that Central Florida is less than a two-hour drive from either Florida coast, opening the potential fishing spots even further.
Marion County is home to numerous river, lakes, springs, and everything in between. This culminates in some of the best inshore boating in Central Florida, and gives way to many opportunities for kayaking, canoeing, and motorized boating throughout the area. There are even air boat tours routinely throughout the area if you’re looking for a truly southern experience.
If you’re looking to get a new perspective and a pulse-pounding adventure, zip-lining may be the activity for you. Get a birds eye view of gorgeous cliffs, massive canyons, pristine lakes, and much more while enjoying 9 different zip lines, 2 rope bridges, and a rappel. If you’re not up for all nine zip-lines, don’t worry! There’s a variety of packages to maximize the enjoyment of your adventure.
A serene and educational way to spend a day, Central Florida is home to some stunning Botanical Gardens. Spend a day immersed in the natural beauty in these cultivated exhibits and learn about several species of flora. Be sure to check the upcoming events at each garden, as new exhibits and events will be appearing for a limited time. Whether you’re on a guided tour or exploring the displays on your own, botanical gardens are sure to delight the whole family.
Once called ‘Ocali’ by the native Timicua, Ocala has a robust history. There are plenty of ways to explore several facets of this history, which includes prehistoric native culture, the arrival of early settlers, the growth of the thoroughbred industry, and much more.
Sleeping under the stars can be exhilarating experience. Better yet, combine any number of the above mentioned activities and truly enjoy all that Central Florida has to offer. Take a break from the modern minutia and get back in touch with nature on a weekend getaway to any of Marion County’s lovely campgrounds.
Marion County’s expansive natural spaces also provide ample opportunities for individuals to explore Florida’s natural forests and practice their shooting skills. Deer, turkey, and rabbit are plentiful, and wild hogs can be hunted year-round here in Florida. Florida Residents and visitors will need a Florida Hunting License. For more information on hunting licensing, click here.