Try One of Our Day Trips from Ocala
Due to Ocala’s center of the state location, there is an amazing number of opportunities for day trips from Ocala Florida. Access to major highways and a plethora of state parks in the region makes Ocala a great place to live.
Florida Travel Blog has assembled some incredible and unique ideas for day trips from Ocala within a two-hour drive. Each of the day trips describes the location, miles from Ocala, what there is to see and do along with our recommendations.
Here is our list of day trips from Ocala, Florida;
Micanopy, Florida is a 200-year-old town named after an Indian Chief.
To Do and See in Micanopy; The town is made up of historically restored buildings and landmarks. Rustic is the keyword for most of the town.
Recommendation: Micanopy is also known for its antique shops and quaint restaurants. The village is a good place to take a stroll. There are plenty of stately older homes. Don’t make the mistake of believing many items you see laying around are antiques, some may be in use!
Distance – under 30 minutes, just south of Gainesville off I-75, about 27 miles.
Crystal River Florida is on the Gulf Coast. It is known as the Manatee Capital of the World. Easy place to see and interact with manatees.
Recommendation; Stop at the Tiki at Plantation Inn. Good food and manatee sometimes are in the canal next to you. There is an Adventure Center for boat rentals and charter fishing.
Distance – just under an hour, straight west off Rt. 40 from Ocala, about 40 miles.
Rainbow Springs State Park
Rainbow Springs State Park is southwest of Ocala. It is in a beautiful setting with a very active spring.
To Do and See at Rainbow Springs; As you enter the park you have a stunning view of the river below. You can hike, swim, paddleboard, and kayak – or just enjoy the view and watch other activities in the park.
Recommendation: Take a camera for some great pictures of the scenic river and the wildlife surrounding it. If you are adventurous, try tubing down the river.
Have a hot dog at the concession or drive into Dunnellon for lunch at Swampy’s Bar and Grill waterfront right on the river.
Distance – about 35 minutes, off Rt. 40 in Dunnellon, 22 miles.
The Florida Aquarium
The Florida Aquarium is the best in Florida. You can easily spend a half day here.
To Do and See at The Florida Aquarium; The exhibits are amazing. Every type of fish, coral, and other wildlife greets visitors as they wind through the expansive building. Dozens of aquarium enclosures house fish you will most likely never see anywhere else.
Recommendation; Plan for lunch at their café (indoor and outdoor). There is a splash pad for kids outside. The room-size exhibits are mesmerizing as large fish swim through the coral.
Distance – just over 2 hours, straight south on I-75, then I-275 will take you within a mile of the Aquarium. 127 miles.
To Do and See at Mount Dora; The shops are numerous and range from trinkets to clothes. Crafts and craft supplies are displayed. Shopping is a well-planned sport for visitors to Mount Dora.
Recommendation; There are many restaurants in Mt. Dora. One exceptional place is Pisces Rising Restaurant. We suggest lunch or dinner on the bluff overlooking Lake Dora.
Distance – an hour and 15 minutes southeast Rt. 27 to 441 to Mt. Dora. 62 miles.
St. Augustine Florida is one of the top attractions for visitors in the state.
To Do and See at St. Augustine; This is the oldest city in America. History is literally everywhere. St. Augustine was fought over by four nations. Architecture and culture reflect each country with Spanish the most prevalent.
Recommendation; Take a horse-drawn carriage through the old brick streets of the town. Your driver will tell you about the history of the old buildings. Visit the Oldest House Museum to see life in colonial times. A stroll down George Street is a must. The shops and restaurants are located on an old narrow colonial street. Try the Prohibition Kitchen, one of our favorite restaurants.
Distance – under two hours northeast Rt 19 to state Rt. 207. Multiple ways to go. Just under 90 miles.
Homosassa and Homosassa Springs
Homosassa is just south of Crystal River. You must visit Homosassa Springs Wildlife Park and venture further a mile or two west to the Homosassa River.
To Do and See at Homosassa Springs; The Homosassa Springs Wildlife Park will be one of your highlights. You can take a pontoon ride to the park that features almost every species of wildlife in Florida. After that, plan on lunch along the Homosassa River with a view of Monkey Island from Cracker’s Restaurant.
Recommendation; Homosassa Springs Wildlife Park is a special place to visit. Birds, animals, and flora of Florida are along your path in a tropical forest setting. Easily a half day of interesting Florida nature. Venture a few miles down the road to Crackers for refreshments or food on the river. The Homosassa River is active. Plenty of boats and fishermen. Across the river is Crumps Landing, another good restaurant.
Distance –an hour, take Rt. 200 to 491 . 48 miles.
Historical Ybor City is a story of revival. This neighborhood of Tampa once was the thriving headquarters for cigar manufacturing in the United States. It is now a top attraction for visitors to Tampa.
To Do and See at Ybor City; 7th Avenue in Ybor City is a restoration model for taking old buildings and turning them into a charming tourist community. The unique shops and now famous restaurants make Ybor a visitors delight.
Recommendation; Take an old-style streetcar for a tour of Ybor and the downtown around the Channelside District in Tampa. This is a fun ride. Explore the buildings in Ybor. Visit Carmines, one of the famous restaurants on the strip. You may want to visit one of the oldest restaurants in Florida called The Columbia a few blocks from Carmine’s. They have been there since 1905. You could combine this with The Florida Aquarium above.
Distance – about 2 hours from Ocala, south on I75 to I275. 120 miles.
Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings Historic State Park (Cross Creek Florida)
We doubt there is anyone that hasn’t heard the name Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings and/or her book The Yearling. Her estate is now a state park.
To Do and See at MKR State Park; The book, The Yearling, was written on this patch of remote wilderness by Rawlings. She wrote about things she saw and the people (Florida Crackers) around her. Her ramshackle house and outbuildings still stand as part of the park experience.
Recommendation; It’s fun to see how people lived, famous or not, in the early 1930s. The horse-drawn wagons, tools and utensils are part of the estate. She did have a vintage automobile on the estate. In the nearby hamlet of Cross Creek stands a restaurant by the name of The Yearling (same as the book). A visit there will take you back to the food of the period. Things like venison, frog legs, gator, and fried green tomatoes were staples on the Florida Cracker pioneer menu.
Distance – 30 minutes from Ocala, north on Rt. 301. 28 miles.
The Devil’s Den
One day a farmer saw part of his field sink into the ground. Today that sinkhole has evolved into the Devil’s Den.
To Do and See at Devil’s Den; Devil’s Den has become a top Florida attraction for the curious and divers who want to see a cave with an underground river. The name, Devil’s Den, came from the steam that rises on cold winter mornings from the hole above. The locals started calling this the Devil’s Den.
Recommendation; You can enjoy Devil’s Den in a couple of ways. If you don’t want to venture down into the cave or snorkel the river, there is an observation platform built above the opening. You can see people who want to dive the cave as they enter the water below. There is a lake and picnic shelters around the property. It’s a great place to bring a picnic lunch! Williston is a horse town with plenty of sprawling ranches along the way.
Distance – a one hour day trip from Ocala, north on Rt. 27. 53 miles.
Ichetucknee Springs State Park
Ichetucknee is one of the most popular state parks in Florida for tubing slowly down a crystal clear river.
To Do and See at Ichetucknee; There are 6 major springs that create the 6-mile-long Ichetucknee River. The crystal clear waters stay at 72 degrees year-round. Plenty of wildlife throughout the park.
Recommendation; The Ichetucknee State Park is one of Florida’s best-known places for floating down the river. Kayaks, tubes and canoes can be rented. Hiking on one of three short trails brings Mother Nature within feet away. There is a general store at the head of the springs. Bring your camera for many nature photos.
Distance – One hour and 15 minutes via I-75 north from Ocala. 72 miles.
Nearby Opportunities for Day Trips From Ocala Florida
We did not include two places within the boundaries of the City of Ocala for day trips. Florida Travel Blog recognizes both Silver Springs and the World Equestrian Center as places that make great day trips.
Silver Springs is one of Florida’s oldest visitor attractions.
One of Florida’s newest attractions is the World Equestrian Center. Each is located at opposite ends of Ocala.
Don’t forget The Villages is just 30 minute away. Lake Sumter Square in The Villages is a great place for shopping, dining and entertainment.
Add to the List of Day Trips From Ocala Florida
We are always adding to the list. If you have some great ideas, send them to us. This city has some fun opportunities for day trips from Ocala with its central location and good freeway access.
60 Day Trips in Florida – Day trip to some and road trip to others!