The Timucuan Indians were the first settlers in the area they named “Ocali,” a place with rich soil and crystal clear rivers. Today this area is known as Marion County, named after Francis Marion, a South Carolinian military leader who defended the South against the British in the Revolutionary War. Ocala has retained the charm of a traditional, rural Southern town and this historical setting complements the beautiful scenery.

Vacationers can relish the winding community pathways that are lined with oak trees and dangling trellises of Spanish moss, or they can explore miles of untainted nature. If the prospect of canoeing down a crystal clear stream amidst the largest sand pine forest in the world sounds appealing to you, Ocala is worth investigating. The region’s freshwater streams, rolling hills, and clean air remain unspoiled and are frequently used for idyllic scenes in Hollywood movies. Camping and natural attractions throughout Ocala offer visitors a chance to relax and unwind amidst these pristine surroundings. Opportunities for fishing, boating, swimming, and watersports are plentiful as well.

Nearby is Silver Springs, a national landmark and nature theme park on 350 acres. Silver Springs is Florida’s “original attraction,” home of jeep safari adventures and the world-famous glass-bottomed boats that were invented there in 1878. While in Silver Springs, visitors can also enjoy a trip to Wild Waters, a fabulous nine-acre family water park featuring water slides, speed flumes, and a 450,000-gallon wave pool.

Dunnellon, also close-by, offers another relaxing escape with its small-town friendliness, a picturesque historic district and locally-owned hometown restaurants and shops. The scenic Rainbow and Withlacoochee Rivers beckon, as do the cool, clear spring-fed waters at Rainbow Springs State Park.