Florida is the perfect place to spend time getting back to nature and having fun in the sun. Boasting 81 distinct biological communities and 4,200 unique species of plants, our state features some of the most beautiful and unspoiled nature in the United States. 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, zip-lining, and everything in between, our community can help you stay as connected to nature as you’d like. Browse the categorized listings below for inspiration to plan 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, visit Ocala and surrounding Marion County to try a variety of trails that can keep you active and exploring. Just be sure to stay well-equipped and hydrated: summer temperatures can often rise to 85 degrees or higher.

Bear-N-Oak Trail
7728, 8126 NE 58th Ave, Silver Springs, FL 34488

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.

Holly Hammock Hiking Trail
10660 SW State Rd 200, Dunnellon, FL 34432

Scenic panoramas on this shady 2.4 mile loop show of the diverse habitats within Ross Prairie State Forest.

Johnson Pond Trail
3033 E Withlacoochee Trail, Dunnellon, FL 34434

Part of Withlacoochee State Park near Citrus Springs, this 2.7 mile trail loops through rosemary scrub.

Horse Trails in Marion County

The Florida city of Ocala is called a Horse Capital of the World and Horse Country for plenty of reasons. For one thing, Ocala has a perfect climate for year-round training, raising, and breeding horses. There are also numerous horse operations in the area and several active competitions. Thus, 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.

Pruitt Trailhead
South of State Road 484, Near Dunnellon in Marion County

Equestrians love this Marion County trail near Dunnellon because it offers access to some of Florida’s best riding trails. There is also a corral and a hand pitcher pump where you can get water for your horse.

Ross Prairie Trailhead
10660 SW Hwy 200, Dunnellon, FL 34431

With adjacent sandhill and wetland prairie systems, this trailhead is home to a diverse set of species. There is also an equestrian staging area.

Landbridge Trailhead
Accessible off of I-75 from the County Road 484 exit

Providing access to the I-75 Landbridge, this trailhead features equine, hiking, and natural surface bike trails.

Natural Springs

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. Besides being a 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!

Ocala National Forest
45621 State Road 19 Altoona, FL 32702

The southernmost forest in the continental U.S., Ocala National Forest features three first-magnitude springs. Swim, snorkel, and dive all year round.

Weeki Wachee Springs State Park
6131 Commercial Way, Spring Hill, FL 34606

See the world-famous mermaid show, take a riverboat cruise, or visit Buccaneer Bay Waterpark where you can slide right into Weeki Wachee Springs.

Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park
4150 S. Suncoast Blvd. Homosassa, FL 34446

Visit the Underwater Observatory to watch fish and manatees swim in the natural spring bowl. There is also a Nature Trail and boat tours.


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 options for both visitors and residents. Get more information on fishing licenses. 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, for those who enjoy the saltwater. Scalloping is also popular, and the season runs from June through September. Or, if you just want to enjoy the water and take in the sea life, the coast is a great place to experience swimming with the manatees!

Rainbow Springs State Park
19158 SW 81st Place Rd. Dunnellon, FL 34432

Enjoy fishing in the crystal-clear spring. Many other activities can be enjoyed here such as birding, geo-seeking, tubing, hiking, snorkeling, swimming, and more.

Lake Waldena Resort
13582 E. Highway 40, Lot 300 Silver Springs, FL 34488

Located in the Ocala National Forest, you can enjoy fishing, boating, swimming, and more at beautiful Lake Waldena in Silver Springs.

Crystal River
915 N Suncoast Blvd Crystal River, FL 34429

Warm Gulf waters, spring-fed rivers, gentle manatees, fantastic fishing and bountiful lakes.


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.

Silver Glen Springs
5301 North Highway 19 Ft. McCoy, FL 32134

Both an important archeological site and a popular recreation area, the protected spring bowl offers swimming, snorkeling, kayaking/canoeing, fishing, wildlife viewing, and hiking.

Lake Wauburg
13582 E. Highway 40, Lot 300 Silver Springs, FL 34488

Open to UF students, faculty, and staff and their guests, Lake Wauburg offers boating, swimming, volleyball, climbing, and more.

Zip Lining

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 are a variety of packages to maximize the enjoyment of your adventure.

Canyons Zip Line & Canopy Tours
8045 NW Gainesville Rd. Ocala, FL

Enjoy long zip lines from the tallest heights. Horseback riding through the park is also an option.

Botanical Gardens

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 on display 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.

Cedar Lakes Woods and Gardens
4990 NE 180th Ave. Williston, FL 32696

Enjoy the breathtaking views of cascading waterfalls, numerous garden displays, koi ponds, and more.

Sholom Park
13582 E. Highway 40, Lot 300 Silver Springs, FL 34488

A peaceful oasis in North Central Florida, Sholom Park features native plants as well as cultivated ornamentals, perennials, and annuals. The park is open daily all year round with free admission.

Historic Sites

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.

Fort King
3925 E. Fort King St. Ocala, FL 34470

Originally built in 1827, the Fort King site has been involved in many important wars. Today, it’s a national historic landmark and park with a library of historic artifacts and resources.

Marion County Museum of History and Archaeology
307 S.E. 26th Terrace Ocala, FL

Opened in 2011, this research and teaching institution features displays, programs, and exhibits covering Marion County’s 13,000 years of human history.

Downtown Ocala

Take a self-guided historic walking tour of downtown Ocala. You’ll encounter local landmarks like the Fire Bell, Historic Square, and more.

Farm Tours

Tour the horse farms that contribute to Ocala’s status as an equestrian destination. Meet the horses and learn how to care for them. Get a behind-the-scenes peek at a working farm. Farm tours are fun for the whole family!

Farm Tours of Ocala
801 SW 60th Ave. Ocala, FL 32668

This 3-hour tour takes you to Ocala’s working horse farms, including one of the world’s four major thoroughbred centers.

Hennessey Arabians
12780 NW 35th St. Ocala, FL 34482

Nicknamed “HennesseyLand,” this working horse farm is open to any visitors who want to browse the stables and meet the Arabians in person.


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.

Ocala National Forest
45621 State Road 19 Altoona, FL 32702

Enjoy deer hunting, fishing, camping, hiking, horseback riding, and canoeing.