Does our headline seem a little strange to you? It’s probably because Ocala is a city in its own right rather than being a home to other cities. Still, many out of state buyers ask us about the cities in Ocala.
It’s easy to understand why it might seem like Ocala contains more than one city. After all, there are an astonishing number of things to do in one concentrated area. Moreover, Ocala is close to several other charming Florida communities, which multiply the opportunities to get out and enjoy the region.
Let’s start with providing a bit of orientation.
Where Is Ocala, Florida?
Ocala is found in Florida’s northern region, and it serves as the seat for Marion County. With just under 65,000 residents, Ocala is a growing community that attracts singles, young families, retirees and everyone in between.
Officially known as the Horse Capital of the World, Ocala is the home of more than 400 thoroughbred horse farms. Accordingly, you can expect to find plenty of opportunities to purchase properties that are appropriate for agricultural livestock-raising purposes.
In addition to being county seat, Ocala is the central community included in the Ocala, Florida Metropolitan Statistical Area. The statistical area is home to more than 350,000 people living in cities like Belleview, Dunnellon, McIntosh and Reddick as well as census-designated places like Silver Springs Shores and unincorporated communities such as Marion Oaks, Summerfield and Orange Springs.
What Draws People to Ocala?
Low crime rates, great schools and affordable real estate are just a few of the reasons why people naturally gravitate toward Ocala. They also come here because this is prime horse country.
Begin your journey in Ocala’s historic downtown district and travel in the direction of your choice. In fact, the direction isn’t particularly important because regardless of the point on the compass, you are bound to encounter some gorgeous and stately horse farms. If you don’t want to raise horses yourself, then you might look for a horse farm that offers tours or guided horseback rides.
Ocala also is the home of the World Equestrian Center, a sprawling, state-of-the-art facility where an array of shows and competitions are held every year. Whether you ride or just want to attend as a spectator, Ocala is certainly the place to be.
Seasonal events and festivals also bring people to Ocala. As an example, each February a cattle drive is conducted through the center of town. This Cattle Drive & Cowboy Roundup is a tip of the hat to Ocala’s cattle ranching past. In addition to the cattle drive, you and your family can experience a petting zoo, demonstrations, pony rides, live music and all sorts of food vendors.
Each Friday from September through May, locals and visitors flock to the historic downtown neighborhood to browse through dozens of art displays. Be sure to participate in the free family art activities and set aside some time to enjoy the live entertainment as well. It’s also the perfect opportunity to enjoy a bite to eat at a unique Ocala restaurant.
Silver Springs State Park is one of Ocala’s chief attractions. Take a ride on a glass bottom boat to view the animal and plant life below in the stunningly clear waters. People also come to Silver Springs for the paddle boarding and the kayaking, but you can have fun on the land as well with opportunities for biking, hiking and birding.
Ocala may have enough attractions and activities to last a family for a lifetime, but there is so much more to explore beyond its borders.
Travel to the neighboring city of Belleview to enjoy some of the best off-road cycling in the region. Known as the Santos Trails, this system provides about 20 miles of twisty, challenging track. The Vortex Trail is particularly technical, but there are other options for less experienced riders. Some trails are even paved, and pedestrians are welcome too.
Belleview also is the home of the Don Garlits Museum of Drag Racing. Recognized as the father of drag racing, Don Garlits is the perfect sponsor for a motorsport-dedicated museum. If you are a fan of high-speed sports, you won’t want to miss this museum.
If water sports are your thing, then you’ll be drawn to Dunnellon. It’s situated where two rivers meet, making it an excellent place to indulge in some paddling. If you do go to Dunnellon to enjoy the water, be sure to stop at one of the signature bars on the waterfront.
Don’t miss the opportunity each April to celebrate Dunnellon’s Boomtown Days. Back in the late 19th century, Dunnellon was a classic Boomtown thanks to the discovery of phosphate in the area. Today, the community hosts an annual celebration to commemorate the event. Encompassing several blocks of the downtown area, the festival boasts cowboy-style entertainment, a fun kids’ zone, live music, craft vendors and plenty of food.
When you’re ready to shop ’til you drop, choose the Historic Village Shops in Dunnellon’s downtown district. These locally owned stores are located in charming old houses and are the perfect places to pick up antiques, art, clothing, gifts and more.
Another lively festival takes place in McIntosh every fall. Known as the McIntosh 1890s Festival, the event includes live music covering a wide variety of genres as well as hundreds of booths with vendors offering food, crafts, antiques and much more.
In fact, if you’re in the market for antiques, McIntosh is the ideal place to browse. It boasts some of the largest and most well-stocked antique stores in the region.
What Will You Do In Ocala?
When you decide to make any of the beautiful Marion County communities your home, you’ll gain a lifetime to explore all that the area has to offer. Get to know the Ocala National Forest, The Appleton Museum of Art, the Fort King National Historic Landmark and much more.
Take the first step today by contacting Florida’s Choice Realty. Let us be your guide as you find your dream home in Ocala, Belleview, Dunnellon or any of the other beautiful cities in Marion County.