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Discover Nature’s Playground in Florida

Hit the trails and float the rivers in Ocala and Marion County

Photo: Arielle Shipe

A trip to Florida comes with plenty of options for enjoying nature. Ocala/Marion County is one of the best places to get the full Florida outdoor experience, whether you enjoy urban trails or wild spaces. Here’s a rundown of what you should do when you visit Ocala/Marion County.


Escape on Public Lands

With two state parks and one national forest, this 47-square-mile region packs a punch when it comes to accessing public lands. Spend an afternoon on the banks of the 5.7-mile Rainbow River and visit a waterfall in Rainbow Springs State Park. Hike 14 miles of mixed-use trails and take a glass-bottom boat tour of the spring at Silver Springs State Park. Or explore more than 600 swamps, rivers, and springs in Ocala National Forest—the southernmost national forest in the contiguous United States.  

Plan your Florida trip: Discover public lands across the Sunshine State.

Go Mountain Biking

Cruise down swampland singletrack at the Santos Mountain bike trails. The bike park, which includes more than 80 miles of singletrack bike trails for all levels, was built in an old limestone quarry. Even elite riders will get a thrill from the limestone features throughout the park that enhance a typically flat landscape. Make tight turns as you descend into a natural sinkhole and then climb out again. Or hit the unique wooden features, such as the spiral Corkscrew and network of bridges in Ken’s Corner. Find mountain bike rentals at Santos Bike Shop near the trailhead. The same trailhead also provides access to the Florida National Scenic Trail, which traverses 1,300 miles across the state.

singletrack at the Santos Mountain bike trails
Singletrack at the Santos Mountain bike trails. (Photo: Arielle Shipe)

Plan your Florida trip: Skeptical about mountain biking in Florida? Yep, it’s really a thing.

Hike Through Town

Historic Downtown Ocala is a required stop on any trip to Ocala/Marion County. The town is a hub for food trucks, restaurants, public art, and markets. And the best part? It’s extremely walkable, and bikeable. The Downtown Ocala Osceola Trak, locally known as the OTrak, connects two of the city’s central points—Tuscawilla Park and the Ocala Downtown Market (open weekly on Saturdays)—via a mile-long pedestrian pathway. Keep an eye out for murals and other public art commissioned along the route. After exploring the OTrak, head to the square in the center of town for plenty of dining options. 

Plan your Florida trip: Check out hiking and biking trails around the state.

Ride a Horse on the Greenway

Fun fact: Ocala/Marion County is known as the “Horse Capital of the World.” The region is home to one of the highest concentrations of horses in the country. It also has a history of producing Kentucky Derby winners, including the 1956 winner, Needles, who was inducted into the U.S. National Racing Hall of Fame. Experience Ocala/Marion County’s equestrian culture for yourself on a guided horseback ride along the Cross Florida Greenway. The 110-mile-long park has equestrian trails throughout and a first-of-its-kind landbridge that provides safe crossing over I-75 for wildlife, as well as horses and riders. Since the 200-foot landbridge was built, wildlife cameras have captured bobcats, coyotes, wild turkey, and the occasional black bear making their way safely across the passage.

Horseback riding on the Greenway.
Horseback riding on the Greenway. (Photo: Arielle Shipe)

Plan your Florida trip: Learn more about experiencing Florida on horseback.

Zip-Line at the Canyons Adventure Park

Take in the Ocala/Marion County landscape from above at Canyons Zip Lines and Adventure Park. The aerial adventure park connects a series of nine zip lines, including a super zip line that’s 1,600 feet long, 160 feet high, and can reach speeds of up to 60 mph. Fly between 15-story cliffs and over four spring-fed lakes, with kayakers paddling below. For a truly unique experience, visit the park after dark for a full-moon zip-line tour, held once a month on the full moon.

Zip-line over four spring-fed lakes.
Zip-line over four spring-fed lakes. (Photo: Arielle Shipe)

Plan your Florida trip: Looking for more Florida adventures? Here are 15 of the best adventure activities across the state.

VISIT FLORIDA is the Sunshine State’s official tourism marketing corporation and travel planning resource for visitors across the globe.