Central Florida’s Hidden Treasure
I live in Florida and pretty much no matter how hard you try, you’ll never be able to see the WHOLE state. But, because I live in Tampa Bay, one of the easiest places to visit is the Ocala/Marion County area. It’s close enough to home for a day trip, but far enough away that you don’t feel like you’re in Florida. Plan your Florida Travel with a visit to Ocala/Marion County, because it has something for everyone and it won’t cost you a fortune. Driving through Florida, the landscape is fairly flat and uninteresting. But not Ocala/Marion County. The landscape takes on a whole new dimension. The hills start to roll and the palm trees are less frequent. It reminds me more of living outside of Florida. There are more farms than office buildings. The golf courses aren’t as easy here. Outdoor activities take on a whole new twist. This is no amusement park. This is the real Florida.
You Pick ‘Em
There are oodles of family run farms where you can pick all sorts of fruits and vegetables. And if picking your own isn’t for you, then you can purchase already picked produce as well. One of my favorite stops is at White Rose Plantation during peach season, which runs from May through mid June. White Rose Plantation has 66 Florida Crest trees that produce a yellow peach around the first or second week in May and their 200 Tropic Snow trees have white peaches that come in around mid to late May. Angela makes her own award-winning jams and jellies, which are available year round in peach jelly and jam, peach vanilla, strawberry, strawberry jalapeno, blueberry, blueberry jalapeno, mostly seedless blackberry, and blackberry jalapeno. They’re an official Fresh from Florida farm using only locally grown Florida produce.
A Lazy Float Down a River
One of the things that my family likes to do is to take the 4 hour tube ride down the Rainbow River from KP Hole. And because this is Florida, this is a year round activity. We’ve seen otters playing in the river as well as turtles and fish swimming below us. One of our favorite days was when we tubed down the river on the first day of summer break. We practically had the river to ourselves and we really enjoyed one another’s company. Near the end of the run, there’s a huge rope swing that you’ll definitely want to use to swing into the river.
Tubing down the Rainbow River leaves us exhausted and makes the drive home a chore. That’s why I like to check out the Ocala/Marion County Lodging for somewhere to crash for the night. From a bed and breakfast to hotel and from vacation rentals to camping, there’s somewhere to stay for every family’s budget.
Old Time Florida
If you’re looking for classic Florida, Ocala/Marion County has Silver Springs, a natural landmark since the 1870s. Known for their glass-bottom boats, Silver Springs is a great place to see many of the animals found in Florida. Alligators, manatees, deer, raccoons, and many different species of birds are all living in their natural habitat for you to see. They even have a water park where you can spend some of your day cooling off when it gets really hot outside. There are many options for lodging right around the corner from the park for overnight or extended stays.
Rainy Day Fun
On one of those rainy Florida afternoons you can entertain the family at the Don Garlits Museum of Drag Racing and the International Drag Racing Hall of Fame. It’s a great way to get a lesson in the history of drag racing, see Big Daddy’s collection of 300 cars, and stay dry (and cool). No only will you learn about much of the history of drag racing, including seeing many of Garlits’ own “Swamp Rat” dragsters. He has cars from many well-known drivers with pieces of drag racing history throughout 2 large buildings. If you’re looking for a little more culture, there are many choices in Ocala/Marion County. There is live theater, live music of every type, art galleries, museums, dance, ghost walks, drive-in theater, city and county parks, and so much more.
Did you know that Ocala/Marion County is known as horse country? While most of Florida raises cattle, Ocala/Marion County raises some of the most famous horses. By taking the Ocala/Marion County self-guided tour of horse farms, you’ll drive by huge equestrian farms where Kentucky Derby and Triple Crown winners are born. You can tour some of the horse farms or check out horseback riding instead. You can even travel with your horse and stay at an equestrian resort.
Something for Everyone
You’ll find that Ocala/Marion County has a rich arts and culture scene. Museums, galleries, performing arts, and historical sites will keep you busy for months. There are outdoor activities, both relaxing and high energy, like golfing, fishing, hunting, boating, birding, hiking, and zip lining. Shopping includes antiquing, upscale, and malls. And dining in Ocala/Marion County is like taking a trip around the world. Whether it’s Spring Break, Summer Vacation, or just a day trip, there is something for everyone in Ocala/Marion County. And while these are only a few of the things that you can do with your family, you should check out Ocala/Marion County Activities for even more fabulous ideas.
This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Ocala/Marion County VCB for IZEA. All opinions are 100% mine.