Inverness is a city of more than 7,000 residents located in Citrus County in central Florida.
It’s about a 40-minute drive southwest of Ocala, and while day trips to nearby cities are popular, there are a variety of entertainment options nearby for those who don’t want to waste precious vacation time stuck in their car.
The area is known for its large citrus groves and is close to several state and national parks that are a favorite of the fitness and outdoor crowd.
Here are 15 things to do in and around Inverness that top many tourist itineraries.
1. Inverness Visitor Centre
For those visiting an area for the first time, there is no better place than a visitor center.
The Inverness Visitor Centre is located on East Dampier Street in the town and is open daily from 8:30am to 5:30pm.
Located on the shores of Lake Henderson, the center provides regional and state-level travel information, including maps, travel magazines and discounted books, many of which offer exclusive deals on everything from tours and lodging to dining and entertainment.
The center is also staffed with knowledgeable locals who are full of useful information and unique ideas on things that are often overlooked.
2. Fort Cooper State Park
Spread over 700 acres, Fort Cooper State Park is a spacious attraction with a wealth of recreational activities popular with active outdoorsmen and nature lovers.
Fishing, sunbathing and swimming are favorite ways to spend the day, and nature cruises are also popular.
If you happen to be in March, here is an annual reenactment of a battle that took place more than a century ago between settlers and Seminole Indians.
The park is also part of the Great Florida Birding Trail, with extensive trails that make it easy to see a variety of animals.
3. Citrus County Raceway
Located on South Florida Avenue in Inverness, the Citrus County Speedway is a unique figure-eight track that hosts many popular races throughout the season.
The races are held at different levels, from professional riders all the way to up-and-coming local talent.
Known for its loud engines, enthusiastic fans and exhilarating atmosphere, the track is a must-see experience even for non-racing fans.
Check out their website for a full list of upcoming races, and check out the cool driver bio page to let you know who will be racing the upcoming events.
4. Citrus County Courthouse Museum
The county courthouse, which now houses the Citrus County Courthouse Museum, was built in 1912. Although it no longer operates in an official capacity, it is now home to the Citrus County Historical Society.
The museum features a number of impressive exhibits focusing on the county’s settlements, culture, and economy. It even features artwork created by local and regional artists.
They also often host temporary history and art exhibitions from other institutions, and there are always volunteers around who are more than happy to answer questions and offer visitors a dime tour, so don’t be shy if you want some unique insight from the local area .
5. Valerie Theatre
Like many historic theaters across the country, the Valerie Theater has experienced a turbulent cycle of boom and bust. Although it was built in the 1920s, it was in a state of disuse and disrepair for most of its life.
After an extensive renovation, it finally reopened a few years ago. It is now a popular entertainment spot with films, concerts, plays and other special events throughout the year.
Previous guests have noticed that the theatre retains much of its quaint charm while having state-of-the-art sound and lighting for great performances. Prices are also very reasonable.
6. Pine Ridge Community Golf Course
Pine Ridge Community Golf Course is a public facility with three nine-hole sections; whichever combination is used, the total distance from the men’s tee is approximately 6,400 yards.
To accommodate young, old and women who are reluctant to play on the men’s tee, there are other options that can significantly reduce the total yardage on the course. Shopping cart and club rentals are also available.
Facilities for this course include a driving range, practice greens, and specialty courses. While walking is allowed, most players choose to spend a few extra bucks on a cart, especially during the often depressing summer months.
7. Withlacoochee State Forest & Trail
Stretching nearly 50 miles through a variety of natural habitats, the Withlacoochee State Trail is the longest paved trail of its kind in the state.
Most cyclists and hikers choose to ride in the Withlacoochee National Forest, and for cyclists in good health, it’s possible to get from one end of the trail to the other in a day.
The trail also includes sections near town, including historic sites and natural viewing areas, as well as many shaded spaces for an afternoon break or a picnic lunch before continuing.
8. Crystal River
Crystal River near Inverness is home to one of the largest manatee populations in the state. They are especially prevalent in winter, when rivers are warmer than other coastal waterways.
It’s also one of the only places where visitors can swim with manatees in their natural habitat, and it’s fed by springs that keep the water relatively constant, at low levels in the 70s year-round.
There are several access points on the river, and many visitors choose to spend the day swimming, hiking and fishing. The nearby town has a historic plantation and a variety of shops and restaurants for those who prefer to keep moving.
9. Natural Coast Botanical Garden and Nursery
Nature Coast Botanical Gardens & Nursery, located on Parker Avenue near Spring Hill, is one of those often overlooked vacation spots that often make visitors feel like they’re further from civilization than they really are.
Tranquil, serene and colorful are common adjectives to describe garden grounds; while they are beautiful all year round, they are especially so during spring blooms in March.
Herbs, palms, and a variety of native and exotic plants, trees, flowers are represented, and the on-site nursery is a great place to pick landscaping elements for those doing some outdoor landscaping.
10. Cruise Lake Wilderness Park
Cruise Lake Wilderness Park is close to downtown Spring Hill, but spans over 100 acres and is big enough to give visitors a feel usually only found in larger and more country parks.
The park has an extensive network of multi-use trails that traverse a variety of environments. Along the way, there is a viewing tower, cultivated gardens and many bird feeders that attract a lot of birds.
There are plenty of areas along the trail where visitors can throw down blankets before diving in for a picnic lunch. The park is especially pleasant in the mornings and evenings when it’s not too hot, and the animals are at their most active.
11. Appleton Museum of Art
Located in Ocala on the campus of Central Florida College, the Appleton Museum of Art is one of the area’s main attractions for fine art lovers.
The museum consists of five distinct galleries and features a live entertainment venue and a landscaped courtyard with gardens and covered seating areas.
Established in 1987, the museum’s collection includes a variety of old and new works from nearly every corner of the globe, including Europe, Africa and Asia.
Numerous special events are held throughout the year, including art fairs, guest speakers, judged art competitions, and teaching sessions for beginners, professionals and even children.
12. Chonta Vineyards
While it’s known for its golf, beaches, and world-class theme parks, Florida is also home to a thriving wine community, and the Strong Tower Vineyard in Spring Hill is one of the area’s most famous attractions.
The Vineyard offers a seasonal wine menu, including hearty reds and many berry-based wines that are delicious oddities for many wine lovers.
Tours of the facilities are offered regularly, and there is also a pleasant balcony, the perfect place to relax after a long day.
Their wines are sold in the gift shop, so stop by before embarking on your next adventure.
13. Don Garlits Drag Racing Museum
For drag racing fanatics, “Big Daddy” Don Galitz is considered the sport’s founding father, and the museum that bears his name is a shrine to die-hard fans.
Don Garlits’ career spanned more than 4 centuries, including more than 100 first-place finishes and an astounding 17 world championships.
The museum is located on SW 16th Avenue in Ocala, and unlike other sports stars who live in gated communities, Garlits lives next door.
Guests enjoy first-hand accounts of restored cars, livery, photographs and important milestones in his illustrious career, as well as interactive and audio-visual presentations.
14. Galaxy Museum and Environmental Education Center
The Silver River Museum and Environmental Education Center is a unique facility maintained and operated by the local school system; its primary goal is to expose children to the wonders of the natural world and the history of the area.
The Museum and Education Center is located on NE 58th Avenue in Ocala. While they’re only open to schoolchildren and field trips during the week, they’re open to the public on weekends and admission is only a few dollars.
In addition to interactive exhibits involving animals, ecology, and Native Americans, the staff offers a variety of programs and tours, so check their calendar of events before you go.
15. Banyue Wildlife Management Area
Even by Florida parks standards, the Half Moon Wildlife Management Area covers nearly 10,000 acres. It consists of a variety of natural habitats, including flat woods, wetlands and hammocks, which are both scenic and home to a variety of animals, many of which are easy to see.
The management area’s extensive network of multi-use trails is open to cyclists, walkers and horse riders. They are a great place to see a variety of birds, including many species of woodpeckers, raptors and wading birds.
Before you venture out on your own, grab a map by the gate near the main parking lot.
Where to Stay: Best Hotels in Inverness, FL (FL)
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