Break the summer daze and get out of the house—use your summertime to play, explore and spend time together.
This summer’s kid-friendly movie premiere lineup is almost too good to be true with literary giant adventures, remakes of old favorites and plenty of Pixar. Get your tickets now!
June 3: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows
June 17:Finding Dory
July 1: The BFG
July 8: The Secret Life of Pets
July 22: Ice Age 5: Collision Course
August 12: Pete’s Dragon
2. Walk It Out
Need to get out of the house? Check out our local parks. Ocalafl.org has complete listings of parks by region in Ocala. We suggest the Fort King National Historic Landmark park and walking trail, or try one of the 13 other health trails around town.
3. Bowling Bargain
AMF Galaxy East and West has one sweet special to get kids off the couch over summer. For $4.95, purchase a kids’ summer bowling pass, which covers rental shoes and three games a day from May 23 through September 5. The pass can be used Monday through Friday until 8pm and on weekends until 4pm. Adult passes for those 16 and up are $14.95.
4. Surrounding Springs
Ocala is neighbors with lots of natural, aquatic beauties, all of which are within driving distance and deserve a spot on your summer to-do list. Visit floridastateparks.org for more info on each.
Devil’s Den Springs
5. $2 Movie Dates
The Marion Theatre will show children’s movies for just $2 Monday through Thursday mornings from June 6 to August 4. For a schedule of films and showings, pick up a copy at the theatre or give them a ring at (352) 629-6300.
6. Morning Zen
Wanna get your stretch on before it’s too humid to enjoy the outdoors? Head to Sholom Park the first Saturday of each month from 9-10am for free yoga classes. Bring your mat or towel, some water and plenty of enthusiasm.
Drive-in movie theaters are rare today, so seize any opportunity to visit the Ocala Drive-In over summer. Adult tickets are $6, children’s are $3 and those 5 and under are free. Visit ocaladrivein.info or call (352) 629-1325 for movie times and the concessions menu.
8. Hit The Water
Kayaking and paddleboarding are available all over Marion County, like at Rainbow River and Silver Springs. Ocalamarion.com has complete listings of locations, as well as ideas of where the best fishing holes are if you’re looking to hook something while you’re at it.
9. Fun’s Easy At Easy Street Easy Street Funworks has go-carts, a rock climbing wall, an awesome arcade, batting cages, mini golf and more. It’s a no-brainer that a day at Easy Street is guaranteed fun (and guaranteed to wear out the kiddos). Visit funworks.com/easystreet for more information.
10. On The Hunt
The 2016-2017 Sculpture Walk and Scavenger Hunt at Tuscawilla Park is on until September 17. Stroll through the sculptures and complete the scavenger hunt brochure (available online at ocalafl.org/outdoorsculpture or at the Discovery Center at the beginning of the walk). One completed brochure earns you entrance to the Appleton Museum!
12. Zip Around
Zipline from tree to tree to cliff, and explore the canopy of the forest right here in Ocala. Tours range from an hour to two and a half hours. If you’d rather stay on the ground, there’s horseback riding, too. Find details and pricing at zipthecanyons.com.
11. Swing The Bat Batter Up Ocala and Sluggers Indoor Batting Cages offer good practice and exercise for kids (without the scorching summer heat on the field part). Call for pricing and more information!
Batter Up Ocala: (352) 624-4121
Sluggers Indoor Batting Cages: (352) 245-2211
Who says you have to leave the house to have a blast? These activities bring summer fun to you.
13. Gone Camping (Almost) If camping away from home isn’t an option, pitch a tent in the backyard or on the patio. If you’re an apartment family without either, living room blanket fort camping is for you. Set a no-electronics rule just like you’re roughing it, and play games by flashlight.
14. Read (Fo’ Free!)
Sign up for a summer reading program, like Barnes & Noble’s Summer Reading Triathlon. The program runs from May 17 to September 5 so kiddos can keep up their reading skills while school is out. Google “Barnes & Noble Summer Reading Triathlon,” print the PDF on their site, fill out the questionnaire and take it into your local B&N for a free book from their list.
15. Little Olympians
The Olympics in Rio start on August 5, so spend the summer in training. Get your kids, neighbors and friends together for scooter races, running relays and other crazy competitions. Winner gets a homemade blue ribbon!
16. Who Needs Dairy Queen? After a day of romping outside, bring the little ones in to cool down with an at-home sundae bar. Arrange a few flavors of ice cream, lots of tasty toppings and turn them loose.
17. Fun Funding
All that clutter and unused stuff around the house you’ve been meaning to clear out? Have a summertime yard sale. Enlist the kids in popping stickers onto each item, and use the profits to fund a fun night out at the movies or getting desserts after dinner. Need more incentive for the kids? Have them host a lemonade sale during the event!
18. This Means War
Declare a family silly string battle (it’s $1 at the dollar store!) in the backyard, and break out the water balloons to fire away and cool down simultaneously. We also suggest tossing giant marshmallows in bowls of washable paint for throwing ammo in a paint fight! It’s a mess, but one good rain or spray of the hose and you’re good to go.
19. Pin The Day Away
Spend a day doing some of your pinned Pinterest projects. The list of options is endless, but we like the idea of marbling cups or bowls, salt dough handprint pieces or making glitter slime.
20. Park Plans
Florida is home to numerous water parks. Have you visited them all?
Wild Waters: Enjoy a day of rides and slides without the road trip.
Aquatica: Because it’s a SeaWorld park, you can usually find deals for entry to both.
Legoland Water Park: This family fun zone is designed for kids 12 and under, with a special 5 and under section with shorter slides and huge DUPLO creatures. Admission to Legoland is required for admission to the waterpark.
Adventure Island: Check out the new Colossal Curl thrill slide!
Wet N Wild: This summer is the last year America’s first water park will be open, so get in while you can.
Disney’s Blizzard Beach & Typhoon Lagoon: Numerous attractions and slide sizes for all ages.
Discovery Cove: Snorkel and swim with dolphins this summer—just be sure to book in advance!
21. Sun and Sand: Beach Towns
If you’re a summertime regular at Daytona Beach but could use some new scenery, consider St. Augustine, New Smyrna or Clearwater. A daytime boogie board rental could be fun…
22. Nature and Knowledge: Gainesville Only 45 minutes north on I-75, the Gator Nation empties out during summer months making it easy to access all the natural attractions. If you’ve explored all of Ocala, consider Devil’s Millhopper, Kanapaha Botanical Gardens or Payne’s Prairie for your next outdoor day. Check out the Florida Museum of Natural History midday during high temps!
23. Snack and Stroll: Downtown St. Augustine
A little under two hours away is the oldest city in the United States, and today, it’s brimming with as many shops and eateries as historical monuments. Tour forts, grab gourmet popsicles at The Hyppo and visit the St. Augustine Alligator Farm Zoological Park.
The summer calendar is full of hot events for adults and children alike. Be sure to swing by a few and enjoy these activities!
24. Ocala Comic Con
June 4-June 5
Hilton of Ocala, 3600 SW 36th Ave., Ocala
Professional cosplayers, favorite actors and the voices of beloved anime characters unite for the best local comic con yet.
1-day tickets $15, 2-day tickets $25, 2-day VIP passes $35.
25. The World’s Largest Swim Lesson
June 24, 11:30am
Jervey Gantt Aquatic Fun Center & Hampton Aquatic Fun Center
Water safety organizations around the country are organizing this day to break the record for most people taking swimming lessons at the same time. Visit recreationandparks.ocalafl.org to register or call Carla at (352) 401-3918 or Kelsey at (352) 401-3920.
26. God & Country Day
July 4, 12pm
Corner of US 27 and County Road 225A, near Golden Ocala Golf & Equestrian Club
In the morning, play old-fashioned field games (think potato sack races), and, of course, watch beautiful fireworks light up the night sky after dark.
27. Big Hammock Race Series: 4 on the Fourth
July 4, 7:30am
Veterans Memorial Park
Want to keep the family in shape this summer? Join this walk/run event for newbies and veterans alike. It’s the final race in Season 1 of the Big Hammock race series. Register in advance at bighammockraceseries.com for $25 or $30 the day of.
28. Cruise The Car Shows
Hot Wheels-hoarding kids will really love Ocala Street Cruisers’ car shows, where they can see life-size versions of their favorite toys and hear them revving up. They hold recurring shows just about every weekend. We like the sound of the Bruster’s Ice Cream parking lot cruise-in on the last Saturday of each month. Get details on weekly and monthly shows at allamericanstreetcruisers.org.
29. Dive In Movies
Blow up your raft and head over to the pool to lounge in the water while taking in an evening movie. Screening times, you ask?
July 8, 8pm, Jervey Gantt Aquatic Fun Center – The Spongebob Movie: Sponge Out of Water
August 5, 8pm, Hampton Aquatic Fun Center – Soul Surfer
30. Back to School Bash
July 30, 10am-1pm
E.D. Croskey Recreation Center
Prep for the new school year with complimentary book bags and school supplies and get vision screenings, physicals and dental services all in one place. ocalafl.org