This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Ocala/Marion County VCB. All opinions are 100% mine.
Last month I had the chance after my AMI Beach Bums retreat to drive the 1 1/2 hours from Tampa to Ocala, Florida to check out all that Marion County, Florida has to offer. I’d never been to the area before and honestly knew nothing about it until my visit. And after spending three days exploring places to eat, play, and stay, it’s full of places to have fun with your family even if you only have a day or two to visit. If you only have 48 hours, here’s my guide to family fun in Ocala Florida.
48 Hours of Family Fun in Ocala, Florida
Check into your hotel in the late afternoon or early evening. I highly recommend the Hampton Inn & Suites Ocala because not only is it one of the top rated hotels in the area, it’s incredibly family friendly with its free breakfast, pool, suites, and free cookies and drinks in the afternoon. I stayed in a room by myself, but I could easily have shared the bed with my husband and set my son up on the other side of the room with plenty of space to spare.
Once you’re all checked in, drive the 10-15 minutes over to eat dinner in downtown Ocala at the family-friendly Brooklyn’s Backyard. The fried cheese bites make the perfect kid-friendly appetizer, just make sure to be aware of any stray fried jalapeños that may have made it into your batch; they’re hot. Follow up the fried cheese with one of their delicious pizzas, calzones, or their famous homemade fettuccini alfredo. So good.
And make sure to save room for dessert. They offer a couple of great looking desserts, but my favorite was the make your own s’mores. They bring out a plate with an actual flame for you to roast your own marshmallows and make s’mores right at your table. As I was making my s’mores, I could almost feel the envy in the eyes of the other guests who wanted to make s’mores of their own.
Get up in the morning and enjoy the free continental breakfast provided by Hampton Inn & Suites or if you’re in a hurry, grab one of the grab n go brown bag breakfasts they provided free of charge for guests who don’t have time to sit down.
After breakfast, head about ten minutes north to Zip the Canyons for a high-flying ziplining adventure on Florida’s longest ziplines. I highly recommend doing the full 2 1/2-3 hour tour rather than the half because the half tour stops after zip five and the best zips are the ones at the end. I was on a tour with a girl who was scared of heights and even she had a great time with our hilarious guides Craig and Jordan. Kids and adults will enjoy flying through the trees, zipping over a fresh water lake, and bouncing across a bridge high above the canyons.
After your tour, head to historical Ocala for a quick drive-thru lunch at the iconic Hungry Bear Drive-In. With delicious sandwiches, french fries, and milkshakes (get the cherry!), Hungry Bear has been a landmark in Ocala for years and is really about as family-friendly as you can get. Just beware that they are only open from 11AM-4PM on Monday through Friday, so you need to plan carefully to make sure you get one of their infamous Hungry Bear meals.
Spend the rest of the afternoon at Silver Springs where you can enjoy a leisurely walk around the springs, ride a glass-bottomed boat to see all of the wildlife, or even plunge down a water slide at Wild Waters. There’s something for everyone at one of the most fun places Ocala has to offer.
For dinner on your second night, grab some grub while watching a double feature at the Ocala Drive-In theater. At $6 per person for two movies, the ticket price is a steal and the food is what you’d imagine being able to purchase at any regular theater — chicken tenders, hot dogs, popcorns, drinks, etc.
Sleep in on your third day and enjoy a leisurely swim in the pool at Hampton Inn & Suites. After a dip in the pool, dry off then finish off your visit to Ocala by picking up some mini cupcakes to eat on the road at Small Cakes. Not only do they have 20+ regular size cupcake flavors to choose from, they also sell cute mini cupcakes that are the perfect way to sample a bunch of different flavors rather than committing to just one.
With a number of major airports within an hour or two of Ocala, it really is the perfect place for a quick two-day visit with your family if you’re looking for Florida Travel ideas. If you need more great ideas for things to do with family in Marion County, make sure to check out the Ocala Marion County website. It’s full of great Ocala/Marion County Activities and Ocala/Marion County Lodging recommendations.