Plan Some Fun Off the Field This Summer
It is summertime and for many parents and families, it means tournament season for the kids!
If you are visiting North Central Florida this summer for a youth sports event, the area has a lot of fun things to do off the field. Whether you are with just your family or a whole team, there are group-friendly ways to explore the destination—from tubing down the Rainbow River or hitting up the Ocala Skate Park, to a movie at the Ocala Drive-In Theatre or attending one of the summer concerts.
Fill your free time with some of the activities listed here, or better yet, come a few days early or stay a few days after to make sure you enjoy the destination! The activities are split up into Outdoors, Indoors and Special Events, so no matter the weather, you have something to keep you busy.
Swim, Paddle, Tube the Springs
The area offers many crystal clear natural springs to swim in, kayak or canoe and even tube down. Being 72 degrees year-round, this spring water is a great refresher for the team and families following a game.
The entire destination is one big outdoor playground. The Ocala National Forest includes several recreation areas — Juniper Springs, Silver Glen Springs, Salt Springs and others — that offer a bounty of fun. They all offer designated areas for swimming, hiking and other scenic outdoor activities. In the western part of Marion County, there is the amazing Rainbow Springs, which feeds into the Rainbow River which offers six miles for tubing and paddling.
Bike and Horseback Ride the Trails
Your teams will love the opportunity to experience the area’s extensive equine attractions. Known as the Horse Capital of the World®, the destination has more than 900 horse farms set among our vast expanses of brilliant green rolling hills — a landscape unlike anything else in Florida. Many of the farms offer tours and allow groups to interact with these majestic animals, and some will take you on fun and relaxing horse-drawn carriage rides. If your athletes want to ride horses, there’s no better place to do it. Check out Cactus Jack’s Trail Rides and some of the other experienced outfitters who make it fun for everyone, from beginning riders to experts!
Canyons Zip Line and Adventure Park
Just seven miles north of downtown Ocala, the 100-acre Canyons Zip Line and Adventure Park offers endless outdoor excitement. Twelve zip lines are geared to a variety of ages, and include one run more than a thousand feet in length which is the longest in the state of Florida. Your athletes can also enjoy kayaking, gem mining, guided horseback riding tours and more.
Bring your skateboard, skates or bike for some free style moves at the Ocala Skate Park, one of the newest parks in the destination. Located on the north side of Tuscawilla Park, which sits a few blocks from Downtown Ocala, the Ocala Skate Park is a thriving addition to the area, open sunrise to sunset. The park features obstacles including ramps, rails and even stairs.
Glass Bottom Boat Ride
Just a few miles east of Historic Downtown Ocala is Silver Springs State Park, where you can take your group on a world-famous Glass Bottom Boat ride and tour an authentic Florida “Cracker Village,” among other activities like paddling in a clear kayak or exploring the trails. Fun Fact: Silver Springs’ Glass Bottom Boat tours is considered Florida’s very first tourist attractions, well before theme parks!
After a long day of fun on the field, kicking back and watching a movie could be just what your athletes need. The Ocala Drive-In is the perfect place to go to the movies with a twist! Grab some popcorn or favorite treats at the concession stand, tune into the radio station to listen to the movie and enjoy the BIG screen from the comfort of your own car.
Need to get more energy out? Ocala Sky Zone is fun for the kids and parents alike and will be sure to bring smiles to everyone’s face. The trampoline park is massive and ALL indoors, so a good option if the weather is not cooperating. Play games, jump to basketball hoops, hit the obstacle course, the jumping is definitely going to deliver on a good time.
Tap into your creative side at Picasso’s Palette near Downtown Ocala. This local pottery painting spot offers items kids will love as well as teenagers and adults! There are a number of tables in the shop and they book events also, in case you want to plan ahead and have the whole team enjoy the crafts.
Artspace at the Appleton
Another fun way to get creative is a trip the Appleton Museum of Art and visit the Artspace! At the Artspace, children and adults can get hands-on with art at various different project stations. Some of the activities include making magnet mosaics, drawing on a glass wall and building with Lego®! The Artspace is included with admission into the museum.
For more things indoors, check out our blog: Things to Do on a Rainy Day.
Summer Special Events
In addition to all the fun activities listed above, there are a number of special events happening this summer. Among these are a summer equestrian series at the new World Equestrian Center and multiple music concerts, including the free Levitt AMP Music Series on Friday nights. For more on these events, check out our blog: Sweet Summertime Events to Make Your Vacation a Splash.
For a full list of events updated daily, see our events calendar.