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Rivaling Lexington, Kentucky as “Horse Capital of the World,” the rolling hills of Ocala are home to hundreds of horse farms and a thriving thoroughbred industry, plus hundreds of miles of trails available for equestrians to enjoy. But Silver Springs defined the region as a tourist draw more than a century ago, when folks came from around the country to peer through glass-bottomed boats at one of the largest first-magnitude springs in the world. The Ocala National Forest was the first national forest established east of the Mississippi River, and is more than 100 years old, protecting the world’s largest scrub forest, the Big Scrub. It’s a ...

Rivaling Lexington, Kentucky as “Horse Capital of the World,” the rolling hills of Ocala are home to hundreds of horse farms and a thriving thoroughbred industry, plus hundreds of miles of trails available for equestrians to enjoy. But Silver Springs defined the region as a tourist draw more than a century ago, when folks came from around the country to peer through glass-bottomed boats at one of the largest first-magnitude springs in the world. The Ocala National Forest was the first national forest established east of the Mississippi River, and is more than 100 years old, protecting the world’s largest scrub forest, the Big Scrub. It’s a playground for hikers and campers, kayakers and bicyclists, and anyone who loves diving into a chilly but crystal-clear spring. Flanked to the west by first-magnitude Rainbow Springs, once an old Florida attraction and now a state park; and the Cross Florida Greenway, a mile-wide corridor of protected public lands through Central Florida, Ocala offers more access to land-based trails – hiking, biking, equestrian, and off road – than anywhere else in the state.

Sandra Friend
About the Expert

Sandra Friend has written 12 books about Florida, including the Explorer's Guide (Countryman Press) series to Florida.

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Facts at a Glance

Climate

  • Best Time to Visit:

    Year-round