From some of the best ziplining and watersport activities in the country to arts and culture galore, Ocala has no shortage of big-city amenities—or small-town charm.
Ocala has a rich and diverse cultural calendar. From a vibrant symphony orchestra and civic theater to numerous venues around town, Ocala is alive with art of all shapes and sizes. A perfect example is the Appleton Museum of Art. Bestowed to the citizens of Ocala and ultimately gifted to the College of Central Florida, it is an artistic jewel not found in most communities this size. Since opening over three decades ago, it has hosted significant exhibitions featuring works by Rembrandt, Monet, and Charles Schulz, to name just a few.
Florida is an ideal location for watersports of all kinds and Ocala soaks up all the fun. With numerous lakes and rivers that attract visitors from hours away, choose your mode of transportation—jet ski, motorboat, pontoon boat, or paddleboard—and your iconic local body of water—Lake Weir, the Ocklawaha River, Orange Lake, or the Rainbow River—and enjoy an active day of memories with the whole family.
Ocala has been long known as a haven for retirees seeking refuge from the cold northern winters, and that well-earned reputation is getting stronger with each new development. Its oldest active-adult community is On Top of the World, which has been on the leading edge of this demographic since first breaking ground in the mid-‘70s. Now it offers year-round active pursuits for residents of all ages and boasts a lifelong learning center called Master the Possibilities that has more than 28,000 student registrations a year, as well as a biking trail that winds for more than 17 miles through picturesque lanes and vistas.
The Ocala area is also home to pursuits that will make any adrenaline junkie scream for more! From challenging off-road cycling courses at Santos and dirt bike tracks that push the redline to cave diving in the natural underwater springs and earning your pilot’s license at the Ocala International Airport, this area spells adventure in a myriad of ways. One of the coolest is at Zip Line & Canopy Tours, which converted an old limerock pit into a nine-zipline course that offers breathtaking views not found anywhere else. Not even birds can soar through the air this fast!
Ocala has all of the shops you’d expect from a modern city. Yes, we’re talking Walmart, Target, etc., but it also has many bustling shopping centers, two malls, and a thriving array of mom-and-pop stores, many of which are clustered around a charming downtown square.