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Best places to go: Ocean Pond

     If you are looking for a great way to spend a Saturday, then hitch up your boat and head on out to Ocean Pond. Located about an hour and fifteen minutes away from downtown Jacksonville  in Osceola National Forest, this vast, shallow lake provides a great place for fishing, watersports, and enjoying a scenic picnic and barbecue.

     To get there, head west on Interstate 10 and get off on Route 90, near Olustee. Head about one mile east of the town, then take a left (north) onto County Road 250A. Follow the signs to the campground area on the lake, where there is a boat ramp and picnic area. Camping can be as low as $8 per day if you want to spend the night, but sites cannot be reserved. There is a small fee if you only stay the day. Check out http://www.forestcamping.com/dow/southern/osccmp.htm for more details.

     Once there, be sure to spend some time swimming, grilling, catching some large-mouth bass, and teaching your kids to waterski. There is a roped-off public swimming area to enjoy and a handful of covered pavilions for holding a get-together. The boat ramp is nearby and it's plenty deep enough to handle just about anything you can tow. Be warned though, that the lake is shallow throughout its entirety (hence its name 'Ocean Pond'), so go slow unless you are out in the middle. There is plenty of space for tubing, skiing, and wakeboarding without having to dodge other boats, which is always a plus. Ocean Pond also has a sizable population of large-mouth bass, crappie, and bluegills, and plenty of shallow shoreline to fish for them.

The next time you and your family or friends are trying to think of something to do on the weekend, then make sure to pay a visit to Ocean Pond. Between swimming, fishing, and just cruising around the lake, there's sure to be an activity for everyone to enjoy.

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