Our area has some of the best springs, lakes, rivers and opportunities to enjoy nature, and now that we can officially gather again, we’ve compiled a list of some great happenings and activities we’re ready to get back to that will help ensure your summer is packed with some serious social satisfaction.
Wondering what’s happening in terms of Independence Day celebrations? Here’s a snapshot of where to get your festivities on and your fireworks fix.
Saturday, July 3
WUFT Presents Fanfares & Fireworks
6-10pm | UF Bandshell at Flavet Field
605 Woodlawn Drive, Gainesville
Musical groups include Bears and Lions, Jason & Sarah Hedges and Friends, Savants of Soul, Gainesville Community Band and the Gainesville POPS under the direction of Gary Langford.
Fireworks by Skylighters of Florida will begin at approximately 9:40pm. LifeSouth Community Blood Centers will conduct a blood drive. Food trucks will be on site. No dogs, sparklers, drones or alcohol are allowed. Coolers are allowed but may be subject to search by the University of Florida Police Department. wuft.org/fireworks
Saturday, July 3
Celebration Craft Show & BBQ Festival
9am-4pm | Harbison Farm Cattle & Produce
4696 Northeast County Road 329, Anthony
Vendors, music and food. Find the farm on Facebook or call or text (352) 239-3552
Sunday, July 4
Iggy’s Four on the Fourth Freedom Run
7:30am | Ocala-Marion County Veterans Memorial Park
2601 East Fort King Avenue, Ocala
The park has benches throughout, flags flying representing the branches of the military and monuments remembering heroes. The 4-mile run in honor of Greg Iggy Miller starts and ends at the park on a course that winds through residential neighborhoods. Proceeds will benefit the park and the “We Can Weekend” cancer support program. runsignup.com/Race/FL/Ocala/FreedomRunFourMilerforIggy
Sunday, July 4
Independence Day Celebration
Eaton’s Beach Florisiana Cuisine
15790 Southeast 134th Avenue, Weirsdale
Venue opens at 11am. Drink specials, live entertainment and fireworks in the evening.
www.eatonsbeach.com or (352) 259-2444
Sunday, July 4
All-American Brews & Cruise
4-9pm | Brownwood Paddock Square
2705 Brownwood Boulevard, The Villages
Food and market vendors, free entertainment, projection light show and car show by The Villages Classic Automobile Club and The Villages Vintage Car Club.
Sunday, July 4
The City of Leesburg 4th of July Celebration
5:30-10:30pm | Ski Beach at Venetian Gardens on Lake Harris
109 East Dixie Avenue, Leesburg
Festive foods, vendors, inflatables, face painting, stilt walker and live music. The Leesburg Lightning will play baseball against the River Rats at Pat Thomas Stadium at 5:30pm. The city pool will have a free swim from 1-8pm. Free ice cream at 7pm, while it lasts. Water ski show at 7:30pm. Fireworks display over the lake starts at 9:45pm with viewing from Venetian Cove or your own boat at the Boat Tailgate Party. leesburgpartnership.com/leesburg-4th-of-july-celebration or (352) 365-0053
Good Fun For A Good Cause
July offers a couple of fun options to help our four-legged friends and possibly take home a buddy for life. On July 10th, join the fun at the All American Cornhole Tournament from 11am-4pm at the Southeastern Livestock Pavilion. Registration begins at 11am and bags will start to fly at noon. Entry is $40 per team (bring your own partner), there will be a $5 jersey judging fee, vendors, a raffle and 50/50, and trophies awarded. All proceeds benefit the Humane Society of Marion County. To register call (352) 361-8125 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
If you prefer a more leisurely outing, visit The Black Sheep on Broadway for food, drinks and entertainment at Pints for Paws on Saturday, July 31st from 11am to 10pm. Adoptable dogs will be available for meet and greets from 2-6pm.
Proceeds from this event will also benefit the Humane Society of Marion County.
Ride On Time
If you haven’t biked the Cross Florida Greenway, Dano and Jessica Kinnee of Greenway Bicycles invite you to join them for a free, invigorating social and physical outing every Thursday at 6pm. This is a “no-drop” group ride, which means no one is left behind and the pace is adjusted to accommodate all riders. While the course is generally 12 miles, it can be adjusted depending on the capabilities of the participants. This is a mountain bike only ride on the dirt trail. If you don’t have a mountain bike of your own, you can rent one at the shop. There is also a complimentary Happy Hour ride on the first Friday of the month on the paved trail and all types of bikes are welcome. Another fun event series is their Beer and Wine School, where local purveyors offer tastings and light fare at the shop. The next will be held on July 9th and will highlight Whispering Oaks Winery with an admission price of $10. Learn more by visiting Greenway Bike’s Facebook page, emailing email@example.com or calling (352) 351-3475.
Get In Gear
Does a classic chassis get your pulse racing? If you’re looking for an adrenaline rush, here’s a cheat sheet for motorsports enthusiasts to all the pit stops you’ll want to include this summer.
Second Friday of every month
5-8pm | Big Lots
8602 Southwest State Road 200, Ocala
Sponsored by Scoops Ice Cream and hosted by Al Brooks.
First Saturday of every month
5:30-8:30pm | Kent Furniture Plaza
10651 Southeast U.S. Highway 441, Belleview
Music, drawings, 50/50 and more.
Second Saturday of every month
6-9pm | Hooters
2711 Southwest 27th Avenue, Ocala
Third Saturday of every month
5-8pm | O’Calahans Pub & Eatery
3155 East Silver Springs Boulevard, Ocala
Live band. Trophies awarded.
Fourth Saturday of every month
9am-1pm | The Market of Marion
12888 Southeast U.S. Highway 441, Belleview
Music, trophies, food and valve cover racing. Hosted by The Villages Region Antique Automobile Club of America.
Last Saturday of every month
5-8pm | Six Gun Plaza
4901 East Silver Springs Boulevard, Ocala
Trophies, music and giveaways. Hosted by Classic Cruisers of Ocala.
First Sunday of every month
Ocala Cars & Coffee
8-11am | War Horse Harley Davidson
5331 North U.S. Highway 441, Ocala
Live music, vendors. Presented by Modern Muscle Cars, iCandy Designz and War Horse Harley-Davidson
Saturday, July 17
Feel the Wheels
Discovery Center of Ocala
701 Northeast Sanchez Avenue, Ocala
This free-to-attend event, with chances to get up close with all sorts of vehicles, including race cars from Burnyzz American Classic Horse Power, is part of the grand opening celebration for the new Ready Set Go transportation themed exhibit, which will explore the many different ways people and goods travel across the world and beyond. Feel the Wheels vehicle event will be 10am-2pm. Exhibit hours are 10am-4pm. Center admission is $8 per person; free ages 2 and under. www.mydiscoverycenter.org
There are so many great opportunities to get up close and personal with our equine counterparts here in the Horse Capital of the World. And with tours and riding excursions getting back on track, it’s all about picking your speed and manner of engagement.
Topping the list of things to do in Ocala, as ranked by TripAdvisor reviewers, the Gypsy Gold Horse Farm Tour is an engaging and informative two-hour tour of the farm that highlights the history of the fascinating Gypsy Vanner horses, a breed initially developed by British Gypsies to haul their caravan carts and wagons. The original breeds that went into creating the Vanner are the Shire, Clydesdale, Dales pony and, through genetic association, the Friesian. Gypsy Gold Horse Farm was the first place in the United States to import and breed Gypsy Vanner horses in the 1990s. On your visit, discover an interesting piece of Florida’s varied equestrian heritage as you tour the stables, meet and take photos with the beautiful, long-maned horses and watch the stallions, mares and foals grazing in their pastures. Visit gypsygold.com or call (352) 307-3777 for more information.
Another farm tour of note is the lovely Grandview Clydesdale Farm, where the Cobbs family offers an up close and personal experience with their world-famous Clydesdales and a view into the day-to-day operations of this award-winning farm. The Clydesdales Under the Lights evening tour is a favorite with visitors and allows an enchanting visit while the farm is illuminated by beautiful lights, including opulent chandeliers adorning the stables. Visit grandviewclydesdales.tours for schedule and details.
Farm Tours of Ocala conducts their popular Horse Capital of the World Insider’s Tour that will take you behind the gates of some of Ocala horse country’s most magnificent farms. Participants visit three working farms with stops to meet horses up close and personal. The tour guide notes points of interest and a variety of facts, including how the Scotch Tape brand influenced the development of Florida’s horse industry. For more information, visit farmtoursofocala.com, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (352) 895-9302.
If a scenic horse-drawn carriage ride is more your pace, Horse Country Carriage Company & Tours offers an hour-long, fully narrated tour past several large farms where famous horses have been trained or bred and which includes the history of the farms and the area. The carriage stops along the way so you will have a chance to interact with the horses that greet you along the fence lines, so remember to pack carrots. The guide will offer information on the various breeds and is happy to answer your questions. Visit horsecountrycarriagecompanyandtours.com or call (352) 727-0900 to learn more.
Prefer a horseback experience? There are some great options offered by Cactus Jacks, which offers guided trail rides on the Cross Florida Greenway trail system. (cactusjackstrailrides.com / (352) 266-9326); Makin’ Tracks in Fort McCoy also has guided trail rides through the Greenway trails and offers horseback adventures including Swimming with Horses (ocalatrailrides.com / (352) 342-8891); Mustang Moon Equine Solutions is known for their popular monthly Moonlight Trail Ride (fb.com/mustangmoonequinesolutions / (352) 620-5311); The Canyons Zip Line & Adventure Park conducts scenic horseback rides through The Canyons Park with amazing views of both the Big Cliff Canyon and the Sky High Canyon. Guides take you down into the canyon, alongside the lakes, scenic vistas and beside the enormous cliff walls. (zipthecanyons.com / (352) 351-9477)