More for Less | Get outside

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Posted March 10, 2023 | By Julie Garisto

Editor’s Note: Because we’re all feeling the pinch of inflation, the Gazette has begun “More for Less,” a recurring list of budget-friendly things to experience and buy to help stretch your dollar a little further. 

This week, we’re scoping out ways to get outside and enjoy organized activities that won’t dip too deep into your savings (what savings?) or, worse yet, weekly grocery budget. Check out these Marion County activities that can help you work off stress and calories, and make the most of the area’s verdant landscapes and fresh air fun. 

iStroll Ocala Fitness Boot Camp – Parents of preschoolers can get out of the house and get active by joining iStroll Ocala with their little ones from 9:30 to 10:30 a.m. every Monday, Wednesday and Friday at the Belleview Community Center Pavilion at 5615 SE 110th Place. The first class is free; the rest are $5 a session. 

Birding – From habitats that include shorelines by lakes, rivers and springs, to scrub and densely forested areas, Marion County overs a diversity of avian excitement. Grab some binoculars and head to the trails of the Ocala National Forest, Carney Island, the Ocklawaha Prairie Restoration Area and other birding hotspots. For recommendations, visit The Marion Audubon Society offers information and guided nature walks. Visit to learn more. 

Fort King Tennis Center Beginners Clinic – The beginners program is for those who have never played or are coming back from an absence from the sport. Six weeks of one-hour clinics cost $60. At weeks four, five and six there is an additional 30 minutes of Tennis Ambassador led practices immediately following the clinic. Clinics meet Wednesdays from 7 to 8 p.m. at 3301 E. Fort King St. For more information, email or call (352) 572-7157. 

Horseback riding – There are workarounds to affording one of the most expensive hobbies in the U.S. You can work for a stable, check out Groupons or gather some friends and take a group lesson. According to the blog Savvy Horsewoman, group lessons with a talented trainer is a more affordable way to approach the relatively expensive pastime and you get the benefit of working with a skilled teacher. It’s also a great way to make friends with other thrifty horse people. Since we’re in the “Horse Capital of the World,” there are abundant options for group horseback training experiences. Each group lesson includes a minimum of 30-40 minutes of instruction “in the saddle” and a minimum of 15 minutes pre- and post-ride for grooming and tacking the horse. The Ocala Equestrian Academy offers a group class for intermediate riders at 8000 W. Highway 326, Ocala. For more information, visit 

Ocala Mountain Bike Association & Santos Fat Tire Festival – If you love mountain biking and helping give back to the community, the Ocala Mountain Bike Association maintains mountain bike trails on the Cross Florida Greenway and hosts meetups and events such as the Santos Fat Tire Festival this weekend, March 9-11, at the Santos Trailhead. Presented annually each March by the association, in partnership with the Florida State Parks and Florida Department of Environmental Protection, the festival features the Epic 50 Ride on Saturday, camping at the adjacent Santos Campground, a vendor village with bike booths and food trucks, and skills clinics. Proceeds from benefit trail maintenance and building, safety patrol training and equipment. For more information, visit 

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