Ocala may not be known as a pet specific destination, but the tourism and local spots say otherwise. Ocala, Florida is home to the Ocala National Forest, the second largest nationally protected forest in the state of Florida.
Ocala National Forest (est. 1908) covers more than 607 square miles, which means plenty of room for you and rover to roam. The Ocala forest is home to over 600 natural lakes and ponds, a wide variety of wildlife, and several wet "prairies." The wildlife in the Ocala Forest is abundant, be careful when you're with Fido, as the Florida black bear population is extensive. Among other wildlife you might encounter are wild boar, white-tailed deer, bobcats, striped skunks, and raccoons, just to name a few.
If you're planning on staying on a trail, check out Silver River State Park. Known for the glass bottom boat tours, which is a boat with a viewing room below the waterline to view the local wildlife. Silver River State Park also boasts beautiful and expansive trails, although be aware the tick life is extensive in the brush, especially depending on the time of year. The good news, the majority of trails are wide and flat, which should keep your four-legged friend out of too much trouble.
Visiting from out of town shouldn't be a problem, the Howard Johnson Inn and Hampton Inn and Suites Ocala are great pet-friendly hotels located directly in Ocala.
Enjoying nature with your dog is one of life’s greatest pleasures. And at Ocklawaha Pairie Restoration Area, just a half-hour from the city center, you and your pup have the chance to spot some of the best wildlife Ocala has to offer. Following along the winding woodland trails, the restoration area is a sanctuary for a host of different species, including the grey fox, bobcat, sandhill crane and even black bears. Please note that you and your dog must be respectful to the environment while strolling. If serenity is what you are looking for, then Ocklawaha Pairie Restoration Area is the perfect place to find some peace.
For over ten thousand years, the waters at Rainbow Spring State Park in Chatmire have been enjoyed by man and beast alike. Now, its time for you to take your pup on an adventure. The park is always excited to welcome visitors, both human and canine, to enjoy the environmental, historical, and cultural landmarks the park has to offer. With three man-made waterfalls to enjoy, as well as plenty of sights and smells to discover, your dog will enjoy the trail through this beautiful, natural wonderland. Rainbow Springs State Park is a sure-fire way to add some color to your dog’s day!
One of three community-managed dog parks in the area, Brinson/Perry Dog Park will quickly get that bone-tired pup back into playful shape. With fenced in play areas for both large and small dogs, all types of canines are encouraged to run freely and socialize with others in a fun, friendly, and safe environment. These parks also have doggy amenities like water and waste stations, all while the humans can enjoy the comfortable seating and pleasant scenery. This dog park has been the go-to location in the local community, with plenty of opportunities to meet fellow dog-owners and playful pups!