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Your Dog-Friendly Guide to Ocala/Marion County this National Dog Day

Beautiful weather year-round and an endless outdoor playground, Ocala/Marion County offers open arms to your canine friends this National Dog Day, August 26. From beautiful trails and rivers to a vast amount of dog-friendly dining and parks, here is some inspiration for things to do with your pup in Ocala/Marion County.


All you need is a leash for your furry friend to explore Downtown Ocala. Downtown Historic Square, Citizens Circle, many restaurants, and more are all dog-friendly. Your pup will love racking up steps as you explore all this city has to offer. On Saturdays, visit the Downtown Ocala Farmers Market with your pup and check out some of the puppy product vendors as well as fresh local produce.


Most of the restaurants downtown offer outside seating and have bowls they will fill up for your dog. Some even have treats for them, too! Sit on the deck at Swampy’s Bar & Grille or hang out at the Blue Gator, both of which sit right on the Rainbow River. You can watch as kayakers, boaters, tubers, and divers go by while having a delicious meal with your furry friend. Here is a list of restaurants and drink spots to choose from. Be sure to check with individual businesses for their policies on pups.


Grab your dogs to explore the many shaded trails at Rainbow Springs State Park and visit the three beautiful waterfalls on the paths. Rainbow River Kayak and Get Up and Go Kayaking will actually allow you to bring your dog along with you as you kayak down the river – an activity your dogs will surely love. The kayak tours launch at KP Hole, where your dogs must stay on a leash and remain in the launch area. Between the state-wide and locally protected and maintained lands in the area, Ocala/Marion County offers endless trails and outdoor adventure for visitors and their furry friends. Here are some additional places to venture with your dog: Silver Springs State ParkSantos Trailhead & CampgroundBaseline Road TrailheadBrick City Adventure Park, Marshall Swamp Trailhead, Fort King National Historic Landmark, and more.


Ocala Dog Ranch is located right next to the Live Oak International horse farm and has a dock-jumping pool you can rent out for your dog or take a class with. They also have fun courses on the property for your dog to run and chase lures. Different events and tournaments also occur regularly at the dog ranch. Another great place to venture with your dog is the 4.5 acres of Letty Towles Dog Park, located at Jervey Gantt Park in Ocala. Free to use, owners can take their dogs to run, play and socialize with other furry visitors in the safety of fenced open fields. Darting through tunnels and culverts and splashing around in the splash pad, the pups are sure to be worn out.


World Equestrian Center

Some folks in the Horse Capital of the World® love dogs just as much as their horses, and the World Equestrian Center (WEC) is no exception! You can spend the whole day at WEC with your pup walking the grounds, enjoying lunch, watching one of the events and more. You can even rent a golf cart and let your dog ride around with you. Finish the day with a treat for you and your pup at Miss Tilly’s Lollipops, where ice cream doggie sundaes are available!

WEC also serves as a canine show venue! Ocala will be hosting the 2021 Golden Retriever Club of America’s National Specialty in October 2021. The National will be a 13-day event including hunt and field trials, best of breed competition, social events, clinics and more. For more information, visit There are expected to be thousands of Golden Retrievers, so all dog lovers welcome!

Horse Shows

In addition to WEC, when spectators visit the equestrian events such as Live Oak International and HITS, expect to see dogs of all breeds! Walking the beautiful grounds of these massive farms and seeing the magnificent horses might even be more fun for your pup.

Pay attention to the events happening when you visit, because many are dog-friendly including the Ocala Arts Festival, the Cattle Drive and Cowboy Round-Up and the First Friday Art Walks.

Given that Ocala/Marion County is the Horse Capital of the World®, the entire community is welcoming to furry friends, with many hotels that are pet-friendly. Check out our all the lodging and camping options in the destination at

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Posted by on Aug 25 2021. Filed under The Buzz. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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  • September 2021