Summertime in Florida usually means folks are looking for places to cool off, kick back and take it easy.
In Marion County, we are blessed with an abundance of waterways that can help with cooling off and the Ocala National Forest has shaded copses perfect for chilling out. Short drives can have us putting our toes in the sand at beaches on either coast.
Our talented photographers captured images that illustrate the beauty of our beloved state and how to put some fun in your summer.
By Alan Youngblood
The Rainbow River is a 5.7-mile long spring-fed river popular with boaters, tubers, swimmers, snorkelers and scuba divers.
Tubers can put in at Marion County’s KP Hole Park or a state park entry point. Be sure to explore all your options, which can include taking a water taxi or tram, and a difference in the time of the float. And keep in mind the water is a cool 72 degrees for the entire journey. The water in the river is supplied by small spring vents, which can make for a great drift scuba dive from near the headwaters to KP Hole Park.
When the weather is hot and clear, the river will be packed.
ICE CREAM DREAM
By Meagan Gumpert
In July of 2019 my good friend Tiffany Loughlin and I took our babies to Anna Maria Island for a long weekend. It was an amazing four days of tag-team parenting, boogie boarding, walks on the pier, nighttime sparklers, trolley rides and, of course, ice cream! To this day, our kids still talk about this trip and often beg to go back.
Sometimes the simplest moments are the most memorable.
By Dave Miller
When I think of summertime fun my mind goes straight to the Ocala National Forest. One of my favorite escapes from the business of day-to-day life is to head out to the beautiful lakes and springs that are hidden in the backyard of Ocala.
After a day of swimming and hanging out with friends I find a couple trees that are the perfect distance apart. Like my buddy Ryan Noeker did here, I hang my hammock in such a way that I have a scenic view of my surroundings. This is my spot for the night, a place to sleep and recharge for the next adventure.