By Dee Reed
If you like to mix crystal clear springs, rolling green pastures and unspoiled lakes into your experience while camping in Florida, then head your rig to Ocala. In fact, the city is the perfect destination before and after joining other Good Sam members at Good Sam’s 2011 Daytona 500 Samboree in February. Conveniently located near Interstate 75, you’ll find everything you could want in this mid-Florida city including two highly rated Good Sam Parks: Ocala RV Camp Resort and Wandering Oaks RV Resort. And if you’re having any RV troubles, visit America Choice RV-Service Center, an authorized Good Sam Dealer
After experiencing the excitement of vehicles speeding around the Daytona course, it’s time you take in something a little more pastoral in Ocala’s horse country. In fact, Marion County is the Horse Capital of the World with the highest number of horses and ponies in residence in America. Give up your rig for a horse and carriage tour through some of the region’s most beautiful horse farms. While camping in the area, tour the Florida Carriage Museum & Resort, which features authentic carriages from the 19th century.
Take in an iconic Florida attraction at Silver Springs Nature Theme Park, considered the state’s original tourist attraction. View fish, turtles, alligators and more as you tour the springs that are 99.8 percent pure and up to 80 feet deep in unique glass-bottom boats. The park also has numerous wildlife exhibits, rides, a petting zoo, concerts and more.
Make sure to pack your binoculars and your life list when visiting an RV park in Ocala, because some sites in Marion County appear on the Great Florida Birding Trail: Ocala National Forest, Silver River State Park, and Sunnyhill Restoration area. Of course, what better way to spot that illusive bird than on the seat of your bicycle. Go mountain biking on the Santos Trailhead’s mountain bike trails, or take it easy on the Cross Florida Greenway. This 110 mile corridor, occupying much of the land known as the Cross Florida Barge Canal, traverses a wide variety of natural habitats.
It doesn’t take up much room and offers hours of entertainment, so make sure to pack your fishing gear. And since Central Florida is big fishing country, you won’t be sorry. Trophy-size catches are a common occurrence when bass fishing in Marion County. All anglers over 16 must have a license—visit www1.fl.wildlifelicense.com.
Of course, no RV trip to Florida would be complete without visiting some of the region’s best shopping. Browse boutiques, gift shops and antique stores located in Ocala’s Historic Downtown Square. Leave the cooking to someone else at one of the many restaurants in the region. Try some originals such as Cody’s Original Road House, Charlie Horse Restaurant, Chicken Time Cuban Cuisine, Gator Joe’s, Stumpknockers, and the Winghouse. Of course, you’ll also find your favorite chain restaurants.
For more info about RV travel visit the Good Sam Club Trip Planning section where you can route your RV trip, read interesting RV travel articles, learn about points of interest, find RV campgrounds and print out RV checklists.