Nature-Friendly Ocala Offers Outdoor Fun for the Family

By Hollie Deese on June 22, 2011 at 1:54 pm EST


Families are always going to need places to go where everyone, not matter their age, can have a good time. And it seems Ocala caters directly to them with a variety of activities the whole group can agree on.

Just east of Ocala, a 350-acre nature theme park called Silver Springs pleases patrons of all ages. Parents and grandparents can appreciate the education and hands-on approach to nature, with a petting zoo, wildlife exhibits, botanical gardens and glass-bottom boat rides down the world’s largest artesian springs formation. Kids can be entertained by nature, too, but chances are they’ll also love the adjacent Wild Waters Water Park.

For an active day out, the Ocala Regional Sportsplex has been added to Ocala’s fast growing southwest side, offering horseshoe pits as well as lighted basketball and volleyball courts as well as soccer and softball fields.

Even the YMCA is a place perfect for the whole crew. The child development center is free for parents who are members, so they can drop the little ones off in trusted hands while they choose from one of the 90 classes taught every week, like Pilates or cardio kickboxing.

Getting back to nature, the Ocala National Forest provides hunting and fishing activities, as well as many other recreational opportunities on its many bodies of water. Have a family canoe race, hop into a boat for some water skiing or even bop around in jet skis.

And since Ocala is known for its horse sense, a perfect day out might include time at Florida Horse Park. Any given day could be a hunter/jumper show, dressage event or even a mounted cowboy shooting.

Of course, with the Sunshine State boasting such gorgeous weather, Ocala accommodates the golfing crowd, too. There’s a dozen public greens in addition to several private and municipal courses, so it’s easy to find somewhere to enjoy tee time.

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