Ocala Tourist Attractions
Ocala (pop. 43,000), a country town in "Cracker Country" (northern central Florida), is a horse-breeding centre. Within easy reach of the town are Silver Springs, setting of the James Bond film "Never Say Never Again"; Orange Lake, an anglers' paradise; and Ocala National Forest.
Silver Springs, a 450-acre nature-themed park, claims to contain the largest artesian spring in the world. The park incorporates about 150 different springs which collectively, produce around 5,000 gallons of water per second. Together, the springs and outlets make up the crystal-clear Silver River.There are number of activities available here:Narrated Glass Bottom Boat Cruises let visitors see various underwater creatures and caves.The Jungle Cruise features 22 species of animals from six continents. There are giraffes, emus, aoudads, gazelles and sable antelope.The Jeep Safari takes passengers on a trip through a 35-acre forest. The zebra-striped jeeps cross a pond containing live alligators.Other attractions at Silver Springs include animal demonstrations, a Florida panther habitat, botanical gardens, a petting zoo, and more wildlife in natural habitats. There are also concerts and other special events.
Address: 5656 East Silver Springs Boulevard, Ocala, FL 34488, United States
Opening hours: 10am-5pm
Entrance fee in USD: $29.99, Child 10 & under $24.99, Child 2 & under FREE
Useful tips: Closed certain days in August and September.
Disability Access: Partial facilities for persons with disabilities.
Facilities: Gift shop, Restaurant or food service, Wheelchair loan or rental
Typical Visit: 6 hours
Silver Springs Wild Waters
Wild Waters Water Park offers six-acres with a 45,000 gallon wave pool, three and six story flume rides, steep waterslides, a kid's water-play area, volleyball and mini-golf, raft rides, several restaurants and a picnic area.
Ocala National Forest
Ocala National Forest is the second largest of Florida's three National Forests with more than 400,000 acres of sand, longleaf and slash pine trees along with cypress and hardwoods. Numerous hiking trails wind through the forest, most notably, a part of the extensive Florida National Scenic Trail. There are also many freshwater lakes, springs and streams found within the park boundaries. Different areas of the park have been developed into established recreation areas. Included amongst these are the Juniper Springs, the Salt Springs, Silver Glen Springs and the Alexander Springs Recreation Areas, all with camping, canoeing and hiking opportunities. Some of the campsites offer swimming holes. The clear, fresh water also makes for good diving and snorkeling.
Address: 10863 East Highway 40, Silver Springs, FL 34488-2349, United States
Always closed on: New Year's Day (Jan 1), Christmas - Christian (Dec 25)
Useful tips: Camping and canoe rental costs vary from site to site, call one of the visitor centers for more details. Highway 40 Visitor Center: (352) 625-7470 Salt Springs Visitor Center: (352) 685-3070 Pittman Visitor Center: (352) 669-7495
Facilities: Gift shop, On-site accomodations, Restaurant or food service
Typical Visit: 6 hours
Appleton Museum of Art
The Appleton Museum of Art in Ocala houses an eclectic collection of art. Originally built to house the collection of Arthur I. Appleton, the museum expanded to include 18th and 19th century English and European painting and decorative arts, Asian jade and bronze pieces, pre-Colombian pottery and West African art. It also features several temporary exhibitions throughout the year, workshops, three conference rooms, an interactive video classroom and an art library.
Address: Box 3190, Ocala, FL 34470-5000, United States
Opening hours: 10am-5pm; Sun: 12pm-5pm; Closed: Mon
Always closed on: New Year's Day (Jan 1), Thanksgiving - USA (4th Thursday, Nov), Christmas - Christian (Dec 25)
Entrance fee in USD: Adult $6.00, Senior over 55 $4.00, Child 18 & under $3.00, Child 9 & under FREE
Facilities: Restaurant or food service
Typical Visit: 1 hour
Don Garlits Museum of Drag Racing
Champion drag racer "Big Daddy" Don Garlits founded this museum in 1976. The development of drag racing is featured through a collection of trophies, antique cars, vintage gas tanks and classic engines. Nearly 175 collectable, antique and specialty racecars are featured.The Classic Car Museum accents to vehicles with antique service station signs and pumps. Over 70 vintage vehicles are on display.
Address: 13700 SW 16th Avenue, Ocala, FL 34473, United States
Opening hours: 9am-5pm
Always closed on: Christmas - Christian (Dec 25)
Entrance fee in USD: Adult $15.00, Senior over 60 $13.00, Students $13.00, Child 5-12 $6.00, Child 4 & under FREE
Useful tips: There are two separate buildings, the Museum of Classic Automobiles and the Drag Racing Museum. Admission is valid for both museums.
Typical Visit: 1 hour
The Discovery Center now occupies the "former" Tuscawilla Youth Center (Armory) building in downtown Tuscawilla Park. Discovery Center is not open for general visits at this time, but programs and workshops are available.
Marion County Museum of History
Silver River Museum and Environmental Education Center
Silver River Museum and Environmental Education Center features exhibits on Florida History, Natural History, Archaeology, Palaeontology and Ecology. There's also an interpretative hiking trail and picnic area.