Best Attractions & Activities

With all of the things to do and see in a city, deciding how to spend your time can be quite an agonizing decision. 10best has narrowed all of the available attractions in Ocala to a list of the most appealing and reputable, to aide in your decision making. You can rest easy knowing that any choice you make from our list is sure to please.

9 Appleton Museum of Art
This elegant museum, clean-lined and swathed in travertine, was created in 1987 to house the holdings of Chicago businessman Arthur I. Appleton. In the years since, its purpose has grown, and its gallery space has increased to 34,000 square feet, but the museum's reputation remains strong. Collections feature both ancient and contemporary art, along with holdings representing Africa, Europe, Asia, the Middle East and pre-Colombian America. (352-291-4455)

8 Discovery Center
The Discovery Center now occupies the "former" Tuscawilla Youth Center (Armory) building in downtown Tuscawilla Park. This new and exciting change in the fall will be a part of the City's ReDiscover Tuscawilla Park Project, along with plans for the addition of pavilions, a new all-inclusive playground, connecting sidewalks and fishing platforms. Call for details and schedule. This entertaining and informative center seeks to teach young people about the world around them, especially as it relates to scientific endeavor. Special programs and workshops focus on topics like astronomy and safety, and summer camps integrate play with educational opportunities. (352-401-3900)

7 Ocala Carriage & Tours
Ocala's reputation as a horse-breeding and -training center is well known, and many visitors take great interest in the industry. An awesome way to be exposed to it is by horse-drawn carriage. These leisurely tours last about an hour and transport guests to some of the county's most prominent farms, where they can see a variety of breeds graze and play in the rolling pastures. Expeditions for special occasions can be accommodated as well. (352-867-8717, 877-996-2252)

6 Silver Springs
One of the area's most productive freshwater springs, Silver Springs feeds the Silver River and has been a major tourist destination since the late 19th century. These days, the park offers plenty to do, and its glass-bottom boats grant a window into the clear waters and to their marine inhabitants. The park also offers a jungle cruise, live animal exhibits, local wildlife, botanical gardens, a playground, petting zoo, Jeep safari and country music concerts. The 350-acre complex is certain to please, whether you appreciate natural beauty or man-made fun. (352-236-2121)

5 Don Garlits Museum of Drag Racing
If you own classic cars, love hot rods, or just have an abiding admiration for them, this museum is a great find. The complex traces the history of drag racing, features all sorts of artifacts and memorabilia (including dealer's banners), and showcases a number of vintage vehicles. In fact, you can catch sight of President Dwight Eisenhower's own 1956 Chrysler Imperial! In addition, Don Garlits' own racing milestones and achievements are highlighted. (352-245-8661, 877-271-3278)

4 Wild Waters Waterpark
Above and beyond typical aquatic parks, Wild Waters offers not only a wealth of cool-down attractions but a picturesque setting of stately oak and palm trees. A huge wave pool, a children's play lagoon, a shallow toddler area and several high-energy flumes and waterslides number among the top attractions. Other components include an arcade, food vendors, volleyball courts and changing areas with showers and lockers. Given its proximity to Silver Springs, the park offers special combination tickets that make both destinations particularly affordable. (352-236-2121)

3 Ocala National Forest
The busiest of Florida's three national forests, Ocala stretches out across more than 383,000 acres, most of which lie in Marion County. Even with its robust attendance, the forest is quiet and secluded. Its main attractions are its many lakes, springs and ponds, which call out to anglers, canoeists, snorkelers, boaters and swimmers. Plenty of trails also please hikers and bikers, and camp sites range from the basic to the full-service. Come for the day, or enjoy the beauty for an extended vacation. (352-236-0288)

2 Ocala Historic District
During Ocala's late 19th-century boom, many elaborate homes were constructed for well-to-do citizens. More than a hundred years later, these Victorian showpieces still inspire admiration. As visitors explore the area, they see Queen Anne examples sharing the neighborhood with Tudor structures, Colonial Revival homes and Mediterranean edifices. Mature trees and lovely landscaping add to the widespread beauty. A great treat for architecture buffs!

1 Ocala Speedway
After the serenity of Ocala Forest and the horse farms have replenished your desire for quiet, head to this speedway for a blast of engine-revving and exhaust fumes. Activity at the low-banked, 3/8-mile asphalt track will feed your need for speed as you cheer the maneuvers of drivers vying for victory. Classes that typically race include street stock, super late model and V8 bomber, although you can also catch UPM Pro Modifieds and the Tuff Truck Series. Friday night events are planned to be especially family-friendly. (352-622-9400)

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Maps and Directions

Appleton Museum of Art 10Best List Arrow
Type: Art Museums, Museums
Neighborhood: OCALA
Discovery Center 10Best List Arrow
Type: Family Friendly, Museums, Science Museums
Neighborhood: OCALA
Ocala Carriage & Tours 10Best List Arrow
Type: Tours and Excursions
Neighborhood: OCALA
Silver Springs 10Best List Arrow
Type: Attractions, Outdoor Activities, Zoos
Neighborhood: SILVER SPRINGS
Don Garlits Museum of Drag Racing 10Best List Arrow
Type: Museums
Neighborhood: OCALA
Wild Waters Waterpark 10Best List Arrow
Type: Attractions, Theme Parks
Neighborhood: SILVER SPRINGS
Ocala National Forest 10Best List Arrow
Type: Outdoor Activities, Reserves
Neighborhood: SILVER SPRINGS
Ocala Historic District 10Best List Arrow
Type: Sightseeing
Neighborhood: OCALA
Ocala Speedway 10Best List Arrow
Type: Attractions
Neighborhood: OCALA
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