PHOTOS: OCALA/MARION COUNTY VISITORS & CONVENTION BUREAU
Silver River, this attraction offers the crystal clear beauty of one of the last uninhabited springs in the state. Take a glass bottom boat tour and experience the exquisite bird and wildlife population that the park has to offer. The Ocala National Forest is the oldest national forest east of the Mississippi, and receives more visitors than any other national forest in Florida. It has over 600 natural lake and ponds to visit as well as a variety of wildlife including black bears, alligators, wild boar, and river otters. Canoeing, camping, and hiking are all options in the Ocala National Forest. The Florida Trail is 72 miles long and began in Ocala in 1966. Beautifully maintained and marked
trail segments wind through pine forests, wetlands, and open prairies. Camping and backpacking are great activities for a day off. For the less outdoor-oriented, Ocala has a rich civic history. The historic district, known as “The Square,” is ripe with buildings on the National Register of Historic Places, including the CocaCola Building, a bottling plant constructed in 1939. The Square has a friendly, small town ambiance as it welcomes its visitors to walk around and sample foods, listen to music, and shop with local artisans. Sit in the iconic gazebo and watch the crowds meander by. For thrill seekers, a popular day-off destination is Canyons Zip Line and Canopy Tours. Not for the faint of heart, this attraction is located in a 94acre abandoned limestone quarry and resembles a cluster of deep canyons. The entire complex is traversed with zip lines that elevate to 165 feet at their highest point. The course is about a mile long, takes 2 ½ - 3 hours to complete, and is in high demand throughout the winter season. Fly like a bird over a landscape of rocky cliffs and wide blue lakes and try to believe that you are in Florida! While in Ocala, one feels the inevitable tug of Orlando and all that it offers. Only an hour and a half from Disney World, Universal Studios, Sea World, and a myriad of other attractions, kids and adults alike will find entertainment value. Plan at least one day off around Orlando. Finally, salt water is less than two hours away in either direction. Daytona Beach is an easy 90-minute drive and offers an action-packed break for motor enthusiasts and beachcombers alike. To the west, sleepy Cedar Key is one of the hidden gems on the Gulf of Mexico.