Lack of vacation time is always a problem when you get the travel bug and want to get out of town. Thankfully being located in Central Florida means that I have a lot of cool places within driving distance that I can head to for the weekend. During the four years I spent at the University of Florida (Go Gators!) I drove past Ocala and through Marion County more times than I could count, but I never really thought about going there – until now. Do you have any idea how much cool stuff they have there? Florida Travel
Ocala/Marion County is known mainly for their outdoor activities, but there is so much to explore! This time of year is perfect for a visit since the temperatures are finally starting to cool off and you can actually enjoy being outside. Ocala/Marion County Activities
For my weekend getaway I would start off at Silver Springs. As Florida’s first tourist attraction and one of the largest artesian springs in the world, the park quickly became renowned for the Glass Bottom Boat tours: guided boat rides where guests could travel around the spring on a vessel with a clear bottom in order to view life underwater. With only a $2 admission, it is the perfect spot to spend some time outdoors and see what Florida is really like. While you are there you can check out the Glass Bottom Boat Tours, rent canoes or kayaks, go on guided kayak tours, or even grab a bite to eat. They also have an on-site RV campground and you can also rent cabins that hold up to six people right inside the park.
After a nice relaxing day at Silver Springs, my next stop would be Downtown Ocala. Downtown Ocala you ask? Yes, Downtown Ocala. Downtown Ocala is a quaint area with shops, restaurants, and even a brewery. Infinite Ale Works is a haven to anyone interested in expanding their horizons and knowledge into the wonderful world of craft beer. Infinite’s tasting room features 40 different taps of excellent, adventurous craft beer that will suit any discerning palate. Infinite Ale Works’ tap list features their own beers, local breweries as well as some of their favorite non local breweries. They are open every day and feature live music on the weekends. Its a relaxing place to wind down and enjoy some great local beer with friends.
Downtown Ocala has over 20 restaurants and eateries along with 7 bars and nightclubs. Everything from small mom and pop joints to larger favorites like Harry’s Seafood Bar and Grille. Whatever you are in the mood for you are bound to find here.
And of course there are plenty of places to stay in Ocala/Marion County. Hotels, motels, bed and breakfasts, campgrounds, RV parks, and cabins can be found around every turn. My choice would be to check out one of the amazing cabins available in the area. If you are going to be THAT close to the Ocala National forest and tons of natural springs, it makes sense to stay right in the heart of it. Ocala/Marion County Lodging
After grabbing some breakfast at a local spot, I’d head over to the Appleton Museum of Art. The Appleton Museum of Art is a leading cultural center that enriches the quality of life for the people of Central Florida and beyond. Founded in 1982, the museum was a gift from Arthur I. Appleton to the Ocala community. The City of Ocala donated the 44-acre site for the home of the museum, construction began in 1984 and the museum opened to the public in 1987.
The Appleton is an award-winning contemporary interpretation of classical architecture clad in Italian travertine marble. The 81,610-square-foot museum features 30,000 square feet of gallery space devoted to the Appleton’s permanent collections. The Edith Marie Appleton Gallery 4,000 square- foot, two-story exhibition gallery, was added in 1996 and a 2,662-square-foot art storage facility was completed in 2009.
Kayak Tours are another fun way to explore the area and some of the amazing springs and rivers. Discovery Kayak Tours offers ½ and full day guided tours great for all levels.
Ocala/Marion County is only a hop, skip and a jump away from central Florida. Which means Ocala/Marion County is the perfect location for a spur of the moment overnight stay or weekend getaway. Change up your usual go-to Florida getaway and experience all the play, lodging, and outdoor beauty Ocala/Marion County has to offer!