Ocala, FL The horse capital of the country
Welcome to Ocala, FL!
Cool springs, pine forests, horse farms. If that trifecta sounds like your kind of thing, you’ll love Ocala. Ocala is the crown jewel of lightly developed Marion County, Florida. And for all its outdoor attractions, Ocala also features a walkable town center bustling with shops, restaurants and galleries.
Where is Ocala, FL?
Ocala is 40 miles south of Gainesville in neighboring Marion County. If you’re not familiar with the region, Marion County is the heart of North Florida’s horse country. Daytona Beach and Orlando are both equidistant from Ocala, about a 90 minute drive to the east and southwest, respectively.
What’s It Like Living in Ocala?
Ocala is a quintessential Southern town, with a quaint country feel and lots of room to stretch out. Think live oaks dripping with Spanish moss, roadside farmer’s markets, and country lanes dotted with horse pastures.
Ocala is a safe place to live and raise a family. The town ranked the 4th safest place in the entire country, according to the latest U.S. News & World Report. Being tucked into the middle of the state, you don’t have to worry so much about hurricanes as in other parts of Florida.
The secret is out about Ocala. Home sales increased by 19.7% last year, making Ocala the 6th fastest-growing place in the U.S. Many of the out-of-towners who’ve chosen to call Ocala home are drawn to the warm weather, affordable new home construction, the quaint small town feel and the availability of land.
What to Do in Ocala
Riding Lessons at the World Equestrian Center
The training ground for Kentucky Derby winners, Ocala is known far and wide for its equestrian culture. The World Equestrian Center of Ocala is the largest complex of its kind in the U.S. In addition to its well-attended horse and dog shows, the complex features a spa, a couple of great restaurants, and, during the holiday season, an ice skating rink and gift shop for the kids.
Glass-bottom Boat Tours at Silver Springs
Ocala also boasts some of the most iconic sites for inland boating in the state. Glass bottom boat tours are available at Silver Springs, one of Florida’s first tourist attractions. Silver Springs famous boat tours offer spectators up-close-and-personal encounters with underwater wildlife–without getting wet!
For the more adventurous types, canoeing, kayaking, bicycling, and camping are popular activities at Silver Springs. The state park’s 500 acres and waterways provide habitat for a variety of wildlife. Frequent sightings include deer, foxes, armadillos and gopher tortoises. If you’re lucky you might even catch a glimpse of a coyote, a bobcat, or even a Florida black bear (just don’t get too close). Bird life is plentiful, and the river is home to alligators, turtles, and manatees.
Dinner and a Movie in Historic Downtown Ocala
You might be surprised to learn that not far from all this bucolic scenery and wildlife is a bustling town center. Historic downtown Ocala is a quaint and walkable downtown anchored by a Southern-style gazebo. Stately 19th century brick buildings house shops that have been around for generations. Live music and delicious dining opportunities are two of the main draws to the downtown area.
Like many Southern towns, Ocala’s historic district branches out into majestic oak-shaded residential streets lined with stately homes. Ocala has a clutch of historic Victorians around the town square, but you can also find new construction homes owing to the building boom Marion County is currently experiencing.
The Arts in Ocala
The Reilly Arts Center is Ocala’s downtown destination for live entertainment of all kinds. The 705-seat venue is home to the Ocala Symphony Orchestra, which programs an eclectic assortment of concerts. It’s also a popular spot for meetings and parties.
The iconic Marion Theatre, pictured here, screens everything from just released documentaries to 90s cult classics. Tickets are cheap and they offer a nice selection of snacks, drinks, and even cocktails.
The Ocala Civic Theater, home to the Marion Players, is always a fun time. The intimate setting makes every seat in the house the best seat in the house.
Off the Beaten Path
Housed in a strip mall, Cindy Dunlow’s Flamingo Museum boasts the largest collection of flamingo-related items in the world. You can take home an iconic lawn flamingo, but most of the 800+ items in Cindy’s collection are NSF (not for sale)!
Not for the Faint of Heart
The Canyons Zip Line and Adventure Park offers the adventurous up-close-and-personal tours of Marion County’s lush topography. Their Treetop Express Zip Line consists of five zip lines. The first two zips are low and slow and the others get higher, faster and longer, stretching to 1,150 feet across and 155 feet above the canyon floor. The last zip of the tour takes you high over Gator Lake at an incredible speed. Zip line tours cost between $45 and $70 per adult and usually sell out, so it’s best to book in advance.
Thinking about putting down roots in Ocala? Give us a call at 352-559-8820 to connect with one of our knowledgeable Ocala realtors today, or fill out a quick form letting us know how we may help you. We will help you find your dream home!
Best Restaurants in Ocala
48 SW 1st Ave, Ocala, FL 34471
The ambience, food and service here are all top notch at this Michelin-starred French fine dining fixture. Regulars rave about the duck a l’orange and the short ribs. Definitely worth paying ($$$) a visit for a special night out.
Pop’s Country Kitchen
phone: (352) 289-4837
If fine dining isn’t your thing, or if you’re just in the mood for a heaping plate of delicious down-home cooking, Pop’s is the place for you. Stop in on a Friday or Saturday for their old fashioned seafood boil. You can get a ribeye steak for breakfast. The staff are friendly as can be.
Breweries and Wine Bars
16 SW Broadway St, Ocala, FL 34471
The Corkscrew is an intimate, cozy place to enjoy a flight of wine and nibble on some choice cheeses. They also host hands-on wine and beer making classes, and will ferment your homemade hooch for you in their facilities until it’s ready to drink.
Infinite Ale Works
304 S Magnolia Ave, Ocala, FL 34471
Infinite Ale Works is a great little brewery specializing in Belgian-inspired beers. They offer a wide variety of craft beers on tap as well as a cider or two. The bar is family friendly, too, with board games and a giant Jenga set to keep the kids occupied.
Ocala Public School Zones
The Marion County School District has its headquarters in Ocala. Here are a few of Ocala’s top-rated schools for each age group.
Get In Touch with Rabell
Thinking about putting down roots in Ocala? Give us a call at 352-559-8820 to connect with one of our knowledgeable Ocala realtors today. We will help you find your dream home!
- Town of Tioga
- Guide to Greater Gainesville, FL
- Saint Augustine Neighborhood Guide
- Arbor Greens
- Suburban Heights
- The Estates at Wilds Plantation
- New Construction Homes
- Historic Duckpond
- Anastasia Island
- Turkey Creek
- Tampa City Guide
- Grand Oaks
- Blues Creek
- Open Houses
- Downtown Gainesville
- Haile Plantation
- High Springs
- Ocala, FL
- Zoned for Chiles