Lake Weir is the ideal spot for a little fishing, swimming and picnicking surrounded by nature and wildlife. This freshwater lake is easy to reach from the town of Ocklawaha. Covering 5,685 acres is one of the largest in Marion County. There are several parks with beaches and boat ramps, the most popular one being at Carney Island which has walking trails, a play area, picnic tables and a small sandy beach, which can be crowded on weekends but at other times you can have almost to yourself!
Florida Carriage Museum
This museum is home to one of the finest collections of carriages in the world with 160 European and American carriages. One of the prize carriages is the 1850 Ambruster Dress Chariot formerly owned by the Emperor of Austria.
Florida Horse Park
As well as horse trails through the Ocala National Forest Marion County has a 500-acre equestrian center south of Ocala. The park has frequent equestrian events and competitions such as jumping, carriage driving and other horse-related events.
Sunnyhill Restoration Area
Just along the SR42 east of the Villages at Weirsdale is the Sunnyhill Restoration Area where there is a pleasant Levee Trail for walking beside the Ocklawaha River. It runs all the way from the bridge to Moss Bluff with a covered observation deck overlooking the river and marshes. There is a choice of trailheads from the car park with different trails suitable for cycling and horseback riding as well as walking.
Alexander Springs near Ocala is a great way to experience the real nature of Florida. This 200 foot wide pool is edged with a sandy beach and is good for swimming, diving, canoeing, hiking and snorkelling. The springs flow down for 15 miles to eventually join the St John’s River. It is located 6 miles southwest of Astor, off Hwy 19.
Cooter Pond Park, Inverness
Head west from the Villages along SR44 to Inverness for a boardwalk stroll around Cooter Pond. This sizeable lake has all types of wildlife, from ‘gators to herons, gallinules, ducks and turtles which can all be seen by hanging over the rails of the overlooks along the sturdy boardwalk. The boardwalk joins the Withlacoochee rail trail which runs from Citrus Springs near Dunellon to Dada City on Hwy 301. It is also ideal for cycling, fishing, skating, picnicking or sitting on the seats overlooking the lake and enjoying the wildlife.
Checkout my book about great days out in Central Florida from the Villages, available from Amazon.com or download the ebook version here
Days Out in Central Florida from The Villages
You may also want to browse Talk of the Villages for daily information on life in The Villages