9 best neighborhoods in Gainesville

Gainesville is one of Florida’s best cities, offering an excellent standard of living in stunning natural surroundings. It’s also the home of the University of Florida, making it a vibrant and bustling community. Nonetheless, there are some quieter suburban neighborhoods that help residents feel like the city is miles away.

Which Gainesville neighborhood is right for your family? Keep reading to learn more about the nine best neighborhoods in Gainesville.

1. Flint Rock

Have you heard about one of the city’s newest neighborhoods? Actually, the developers bill it as an “Agrihood” because it’s unlike any of the other surrounding areas. Flint Rock recently donated an easement to the Alachua Conservation Trust as part of its development. This, combined with more than 100 acres of dedicated common areas and green spaces, means that 63 percent of the development’s 400 acres will be maintained as natural or wild.

Some of that green space will be a wildlife corridor, making this an exceptional place to live. Along with all of that natural beauty are three small subdivisions, each of which is designed to promote wellness and healthy lifestyles. Neighborhood amenities include mile after mile of walking trails, many of which go through forests of fruit trees, a farmhouse and event barn for hosting parties, numerous fire pit areas and hanging bench swings.

Located conveniently close to I-75, these new, single-family luxury homes are ideal for commuters and families who want to enjoy a little bit of the country in the midst of a well-developed area.

2. University Park

This is one of Gainesville’s most bustling neighborhoods as it sits immediately to the north of the campus of the University of Florida. Accordingly, residents will find all sorts of casual eating options as well as bars and nightclubs. The presence of the university also means that there are many opportunities for employment, education, shopping and obtaining outstanding medical care within the neighborhood.

If your family is really into college sports, especially football, then this may be the perfect neighborhood for you. Although this is a centrally located spot in a well-developed area, there are still opportunities to enjoy the outdoors at attractions such as the Paynes Prairie Reserve and the Kanapaha Botanical Gardens.

Many top attractions and activities in this neighborhood are within easy walking distance. The nearby college campus includes the Florida Museum of Natural History, a golf course, Lake Alice and much more.

As you might expect with a university neighborhood, there are many apartments in the area. However, you’ll also find plenty of condos and single-family dwellings. A good mix of old and new construction is found in the neighborhood.

university park gainesville map

3. Westmoreland

Located in northwest Gainesville, this is another bustling neighborhood that boasts convenient access to all sorts of restaurants and local amenities. A mall and major big box stores are in the area as are plenty of gyms and churches. Outdoor recreation possibilities may be explored at spots such as the Split Rock Conservation Area with its pedestrian and bicycle trails and the Clear Lake Nature Park with its ancient oak trees.

Westmoreland mainly features single-family homes. While some date back to the 1950s, many of them were constructed in the 1980s. This means that you could find a charming bungalow, a sprawling ranch or a newly renovated home with all of the modern amenities.

4. Duckpond

If you prefer homes with an historic flair, then you’ve got to check out the real estate in the Duckpond neighborhood. Wandering here is a wonderful way to get a sense of what Gainesville was like before everything got modernized.

Located adjacent to downtown, you’ll find plenty of opportunities for dining, shopping and entertainment when you live in Duckpond. However, the neighborhood itself is quiet and tranquil with lots of mature landscaping and old trees.

Single-family dwellings abound in the neighborhood, but you also may see some available townhouses. This is the community to choose if you’ve always wanted to live in a home that was built around the turn of the last century. Many properties were built between the 1910s and the 1950s, and you might even spot a listing or two for homes dating from the 19th century. Limited newer construction homes may be found as well.

5. Sugarfoot

Parents who are looking for a great place to raise kids will fall in love with Sugarfoot. Frequently described as friendly and quiet, this is one of Gainesville’s safest neighborhoods while still being incredibly convenient thanks to the proximity of both I-75 and State Route 121.

Sugarfoot abuts the Clear Lake Nature Park on the west, providing wonderful opportunities for outdoor adventures. Good schools and low crime rates make this one of Gainesville’s most desirable neighborhoods. However, this is a small area, which means that it’s necessary to act fast if you find the perfect single-family home.

6. Highland Court Manor

Located close to the Gainesville Regional Airport, the Ironwood Golf Club and the Flatwoods Conservation Area, this large neighborhood is convenient and well-situated. It’s also quite affordable, so if you don’t want to break your budget but still want a nice home, this may be the best place to live in Gainesville.

You’ll find plenty of shopping and dining options in the neighborhood as well as single-family homes with mature landscaping and large, shady trees. Many of the homes were built in the 1960s and 1970s and they may provide new owners with an opportunity to renovate.

7. Pleasant Street Historic District

Recognized as the first residential district for Black families in Gainesville, this neighborhood was founded at the conclusion of the Civil War. Today, this is a United States historic district containing more than 250 historic buildings, many of which are open to the public. A wealth of banks, churches, restaurants, shops and green spaces are found in the Pleasant Street Historic District.

A few high-rise condominium properties are located in the neighborhood, but most of the available real estate is charming single-family homes. Many vintage dwellings are found in this district, but you’ll also find some gorgeous new construction and residential land lots that are just waiting for the right family to build a home.

8. Hazel Heights

With an excellent balance of convenience and affordability, Hazel Heights allows wonderful opportunities for outdoor recreation thanks to its proximity to Greentree Park and Hogtown Creek Headwaters Nature Park. The southern border of the neighborhood is alive with restaurants and retail shops, ranging from familiar chains to unique local spots.

Although the area mainly includes single-family homes, a few townhouses are scattered across the neighborhood. This tends to be an affordable place where many families buy their first home. You’ll find a little bit of everything here, with some homes dating to the turn of the last century and others being new construction.

9. Suburban Heights

This neighborhood is for families who want true suburban surroundings while still being close to everything. Suburban Heights is loaded with botanical gardens and nature preserves. Cofrin Nature Park is next door, and there is an abundance of restaurants, shops and even a hospital. Commuters love the proximity to I-75.

First developed in the late 1960s, Suburban Heights features large lots and spacious homes. Many of the properties date from this era or slightly later. Nonetheless, it may be possible to find some real estate of a much more recent vintage.

Contact Florida’s Choice Realty

If you are interested in these or other desirable Gainesville neighborhoods, give Florida’s Choice Realty a call at 352-857-9748 or fill the form below.

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6 Common Mistakes to Avoid When Buying a Home with VA Loans

Buying a property with a VA loan is one of the smartest decisions qualified veterans can make. While the process works fairly similar to conventional mortgages, there are a few things that make using VA loans slightly different.

The Department of Veteran Affairs backs VA loans, which allow veterans to not pay a deposit on a property. This can be an excellent way into the property market but there are still ways it can go wrong.

To ensure you’re approaching the situation the relevant caution, here are 6 mistakes to avoid when buying a home using VA loans.

1. Not using a knowledgeable real estate agent

VA loans have numerous property restrictions that provide the Department of Veteran Affairs with confidence in the sale. It would be wrong to expect you to know these by heart, so rely on your real estate agent instead.

They should know the process intimately and should only show you properties that fit the criteria.

2. Buying above your means

Not needing to put down a deposit is great, right? Surely it means you have more money to spend on the property? Not necessarily. You’ll still need to make monthly payments to your lender on time regardless of your current financial situation.

Therefore, you should keep your budget well within your financial means and not overspend.

3. Don’t forget property is an investment

Just because you have access to a very competitive mortgage scheme doesn’t mean your property shouldn’t be a good one. Property is one of the most secure forms of financial investment and you should still shop around for an attractive home in a good area.

This way, when it comes time to sell you’ll get a much greater return on your investment.

4. Still monitor your credit score

Your credit score matters less for VA loans but it does still matter. While you’ll likely still qualify for a mortgage even if your score is bad, your interest rates will be higher.

If you’re not in a rush, consider working on your credit score before investigating your options.

5. Don’t forget to shop around

VA loans are a competitive market, just like standard home loans. You’ll find varying interest rates, some of which are more attractive than others. It pays to shop around to try and minimize your monthly repayments and interest rates.

You can find an evaluation of 9 of the top VA loan lenders here.

6. Don’t forget about the extra fees

Buying a home comes with lots of extra fees that aren’t included in the asking price. Regardless of the type of loan you take out, these often catch people out when it comes time to close.

Things like an inspection and appraisal cost, as do real estate fees. You should set aside as much as 10% of what the deposit would have been if using a standard loan provider.

7. Don’t overlook an inspection

Inspections aren’t required but they’re very useful. Learning about possible repairs before closing can help to adjust the price. Alternatively, you can get the seller to make the repairs before they leave. Either way, it’s useful to know about these issues before you move in.

If you get made aware of any repairs, ensure it’s written into the contract that they’ll either be sorted before you close or that the seller will reduce the asking price accordingly.


Using VA loans to buy a home can be an easier way into the property market for veterans. Even so, it’s worth treating the process as if your money was on the line because this will make you more cautious.

The most important advice is to find a real estate agent and a lender that works with your interests, as this will make the purchase much smoother.

Contact Florida’s Choice Realty

It is understandable to have additional questions and need further guidance. If so, give Florida’s Choice Realty a call. We can help you find the condo, townhouse or single-family dwelling of your dreams.

Begin your search for real estate in Jacksonville by working with a trusted Realtor from Florida’s Choice Realty. We’ll make your dream of home ownership a reality.

6 Best Neighborhoods in Jacksonville

Jacksonville encompasses a huge swath of land in northern Florida. Located on the Atlantic Ocean and with the St. Johns River running through it, Jacksonville is the perfect place to live for people who love to play on, in or next to the water.

Visitors come here to tour the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens, the Museum of Contemporary Art and MOSH. Residents visit these attractions too, but they have discovered that Jacksonville is much more than a nice place to visit.

In fact, it’s an incredible place to live. Industry abounds here, and with excellent schools, large parks and beaches everywhere, this is a wonderful place to raise a family.

Jacksonville is huge, which makes it critical for people considering a move to rely on an experienced local Realtor. Let’s take a look at some of Jacksonville’s best neighborhoods.

Downtown Jax

If you want to live in the center of the action, then you’ve got to take a look at Downtown. Of course, this serves as the city’s central business district, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t spectacular real estate options.

Downtown actually is a peaceful area on the St. Johns River. Delectable dining options abound here, mainly focusing on fresh seafood, and there are a number of upscale pubs with river views.

Most of the real estate in Downtown consists of condominiums and townhouses. Despite being centrally located and perhaps boasting views of the river, many of the options here are surprisingly affordable. If you’re interested in living in a neighborhood with a great nightlife scene and plenty of shopping and dining, then Downtown is perfect.


Named for the Mandarin orange, this neighborhood is characterized by massive oak trees that drip with Spanish moss. That’s appropriate, because this is one area where history and nature live side by side. Nonetheless, this is a residential area with a few points of interest thrown in for good measure.

Mandarin is found to the south of San Marco on the St. Johns River. Residents will want to spend some time at the Mandarin Museum and Walter Jones Historical Park. It’s located right on the river and is probably the best way to get a taste of old Florida.

Opportunities to own single-family dwellings abound in this quiet neighborhood. You’ll find plenty of shopping and services along with churches and parks. Access to the St. Johns River is convenient, and many of the homes here offer spectacular riverfront views.


Widely considered to be one of the best neighborhoods in Jacksonville, Baymeadows is a great place for young professionals and their families. While most people rent here, there are single-family homes for sale in this safe and quiet neighborhood.

This is a really walkable neighborhood that boasts plenty of restaurants and grocery stores. Sidewalks are everywhere, and so are dogs. This is considered to be one of Jacksonville’s most dog-friendly neighborhoods.

Orange Park

In this heavily residential neighborhood, which is a suburb of Jacksonville, most families own their homes. Retirees and young professionals live in Orange Park, and the public schools are outstanding.

With many shops and family-owned businesses, this is a great place to live. Everything from grocery stores to doctor’s offices are nearby. Many parks are found here, including a skateboard park.

Families who are seeking a home on a quiet street may find just what they are looking for here. The neighborhood features a good mix of older and new construction homes, and the price range is wide, so this is a suitable area for almost any budget.

The Beaches

Who doesn’t dream of living right on the beach? It’s why many people move to Jacksonville. The most desirable neighborhoods are called Jacksonville Beach, Neptune Beach and Atlantic Beach.

In The Beaches, First Street is the primary thoroughfare. It runs through all three neighborhoods, connecting them and making it easy to access businesses and services in each. Jacksonville Beach is the furthest to the south, with Neptune Beach immediately to its north and Atlantic Beach north of that.

In Jacksonville Beach, you’ll find the Beaches Museum, a popular wedding venue that also displays exhibits highlighting the region’s past. Cradle Creek Preserve and the Jacksonville Beach Golf Club also are located here.

Neptune Beach may be small, but it nonetheless boasts lovely Jarboe Park and numerous grocery stores, restaurants and excellent public schools. Atlantic Beach is slightly larger. With many parks, a country club and dozens of unique shops, this is a fun place to call home.

In general, The Beaches is an upscale area where people may pay a premium for having an ocean view. While most of the real estate here consists of single-family dwellings, condominiums and townhomes also are available. Expect to find a good mix of older homes as well as new construction. If you’re looking for a large lot with plenty of greenery and a large house with a wealth of square footage, this is where you’re likely to find it.

San Marco

With a hip, bohemian vibe, San Marco appeals to people who appreciate a laid-back and eclectic lifestyle. If you live here, you’ll have many opportunities to shop at fashionable clothing boutiques and browse the offerings at art galleries. The dining here is not to be missed, and Theatre Jacksonville, which is the country’s oldest community theater, is found here. Plus, there’s the San Marco Theatre to admire for its art deco façade. This theater shows a mix of new releases and art-house films.

Graceful mansions dot the riverfront in San Marco, and you’ll find plenty of quiet and quaint streets to explore. Accordingly, you’ll discover a fascinating mix of properties. Explore a 1928 gem of a bungalow on one street and a practically new Italianate mansion on the next. San Marco’s real estate prices tend toward the high side, but residents in general feel that the coveted lifestyle makes the prices worthwhile.

Contact Florida’s Choice Realty

If you are interested in these or other great neighborhoods in Jacksonville, then give Florida’s Choice Realty a call. We can help you find the condo, townhouse or single-family dwelling of your dreams.

Begin your search for real estate in Jacksonville by working with a trusted Realtor from Florida’s Choice Realty. We’ll make your dream of home ownership a reality.

6 Must-Visit Natural Springs In and Around Ocala

The things you can do at the Springs

What’s the best thing about living in Ocala? Some people say that it’s natural beauty around every corner and some say it’s the abundance of natural springs.

These warm, clear, pristine waterways offer idyllic settings for swimming, snorkeling and scuba diving. Paddlers love them too because they provide the perfect opportunities for getting out on the water.

Even if you prefer to stay dry, you might find a glass bottom boat cruise, a hike, bird watching, interpretive sites and picnic areas. Simply put, Ocala’s natural springs have something for everyone.

Keep reading to discover the must-visit natural springs in the Ocala area.

1. Silver Springs State Park

  • Park Hours: Seven days a week, 8:00 am to sundown
  • Address: 5656 E Silver Springs Blvd, Silver Springs, FL 34488
  • Phone Number: 352-261-5840
  • Admission: $2 for adults; children five and younger free
  • Website: https://silversprings.com/

This deservedly popular park has all sorts of attractions to delight the whole family. Glass bottom boats were invented here, and they remain a favorite for park goers. Since the 1870s, visitors have boarded the boats to gain an uncommon view of Mammoth Spring, which is the head spring of the river.

Silver Springs also is a wonderful place to enjoy paddling with canoes, kayaks and stand-up paddleboards all available for rent. Hiking is popular too, with most of the trails being relatively short and level so the whole family can enjoy them.

You may want to reserve a campsite so that you can make the most out of viewing the native wildlife and touring the Silver River Museum where you can learn about local history, archaeology, paleontology and much more. Be certain to set aside time to visit the recreated 19th-century Cracker Village and to have a delicious meal at the restaurant.

2. Alexander Springs

  • Park Hours: Seven days a week 8:00 am to 8:00 pm
  • Address: Ocala National Forest, 49525 County Road 445
  • Phone Number: 352-669-3522
  • Admission: $7 per person weekdays; $10 per person weekends; $70 plus tax for annual day use pass
  • Website: https://www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/ocala/recarea/?recid=32209

The Alexander Springs Recreation Area has plenty of options for relaxation and fun. Kayaks and canoes are available for rent at this portion of the Ocala National Forest. The gently sloped spring pool remains a constant 72 degrees throughout the year with crystal-clear water.

Anglers love dipping a line in the water here, while hikers could spend days exploring the trails. Bicycling, picnicking, wildlife viewing, boating and swimming are available all year. In addition, this is the only place in the national forest where scuba diving is permitted. It costs just $6.50 per person to participate.

3. Silver Glen Springs

  • Park Hours: Seven days a week 8:00 am to 8:00 pm
  • Address: Ocala National Forest, 5271 State Road 19, Salt Springs
  • Phone Number: 352-669-3522
  • Admission: $7 per person weekdays; $10 per person weekends; $70 plus tax for annual day use pass
  • Website: https://www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/ocala/recarea/?recid=37199

Also part of the Ocala National Forest, the Silver Glen Springs Recreation Area sits on the edge of the Big Scrub. One of the things that makes this area particularly fascinating is that it contains important archaeological findings. Once the site of an ancient village, today the area is home to all sorts of archeological diggings. Interpretive signs provide an interesting and informative adventure.

Hikers enjoy Silver Glen Springs because of the three-mile Lake George Trail and the Spring Boils Trail, which is a convenient three-quarters of a mile long.

Of course, water activities are the highlight for most visitors. Non-motorized boating is always popular. Kayaks and canoes are available for rent, allowing everyone to enjoy a close up view of manatees in the water while eagles soar overhead. With the clear waters always a lovely 73 degrees, swimming is popular all year. Be certain to bring your snorkeling equipment to get a closer look at the fish.

4. Juniper Springs

  • Park Hours: Seven days a week 8:00 am to 8:00 pm
  • Address: Ocala National Forest, 26695 E. State Road 40, Silver Springs
  • Phone Number: 352-669-3522
  • Admission: $7 per person weekdays; $10 per person weekends; $70 plus tax for annual day use pass
  • Website: https://www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/ocala/recarea/?recid=34064

This is another pick that’s conveniently located in the Ocala National Forest. Constructed during the Great Depression by the Civilian Conservation Corps, the complex today includes a campground, trails, picnic areas and swimming holes.

A general store, which sells ice and firewood along with other necessities, is on site, and shuttle services are available during the busiest seasons. Canoe rentals are available with prices starting at $20 for two hours, or you can launch your own kayak or canoe for a nominal fee.

A self-guided, barrier-free interpretive trail is available for the enjoyment of all visitors. Stop for a tour of the Old Mill House to learn more about the Civilian Conservation Corps and how the complex at Juniper Springs was built. Snorkelers and swimmers are always welcome in the water. Be on the lookout for the elusive American eel.

5. Paradise Springs

  • Park Hours: Wednesday through Sunday 8:00 am to 5:00 pm; open Monday and Tuesday by appointment for groups of five or larger; closed Christmas Day
  • Address: 4040 SE 84th Lane Road, Ocala, Florida
  • Phone Number: 352-368-5746
  • Admission: $30 per diver, per day
  • Website: https://www.ocalamarion.com/directory/paradise-springs/

If you are a scuba diver, then visiting Paradise Springs on a regular basis is a must. This is your opportunity to experience a spectacular cavern dive right in your own backyard.

One of the things that makes this such a special spot for diving is the prehistoric fossils that are embedded in the walls of the cave. With 72-degree water all year long, you’ll want to explore this underwater cave in every season. That’s good news because it would take a lifetime to see all that there is to discover.

6. Rainbow Springs State Park

Rainbow Springs is a particularly well-known place for tubing. The activity closes down for the winter from October through March, but you can expect pretty heavy usage for the rest of the year. If you go for the tubing, understand that there is a designated entrance for this activity. A shuttle service is provided for a small fee, and tubes are available for rent.

In addition to campgrounds and a concession stand, the park also boasts gardens, an interpretive exhibit, playgrounds and picnic facilities.

Other popular activities include fishing, geocaching, hiking, paddling, snorkeling and swimming, providing something for every visitor.

Call Florida’s Choice Realty First

Do you want to find your home in Ocala? When you do, you’ll be able to visit these and other natural springs in the region on a regular basis. Don’t miss your opportunity to enjoy adventures in warm, crystal-clear waters every weekend.

With Florida’s Choice Realty, you’ll find local real estate experts who really know the market and can ensure that you find the home of your dreams.

Ocala’s World Equestrian Center

Newcomers usually aren’t here long before they hear a lot about the World Equestrian Center. In fact, some people actually move to Ocala just to be closer to this famous facility.

Even if you are not part of Ocala’s rich equestrian culture, you’ll probably want to visit at least a few times. That’s because the World Equestrian Center is a main gathering place for all sorts of festivities, conventions and events. An elegant resort is located on site, and you may want to enjoy some upscale shopping and dining. Or, perhaps you’d just like to enjoy an indulgent day at the spa.

As you’ll soon discover, the World Equestrian Center has something for everyone.

What Is the World Equestrian Center?

As the name suggests, this is a world-class facility at which various horse-centric events are held every year. With a variety of shows and competitions, the Center is a popular gathering spot, especially since spectators can attend competitions for free.

The facility in Ocala attracts competitors from across the country as it boasts more than 300 acres, 22 outdoor rings and four indoor arenas. This makes the facility a true four-season attraction.

In addition to a variety of equestrian events, the Center also hosts many conventions and tradeshows, canine shows and even weddings. Several sporting facilities also are on site, including arenas that are suitable for volleyball, basketball, soccer, martial arts, dance, cheerleading, lacrosse and many others.

What Can You Do at the World Equestrian Center?

Whether you visit to take in some dressage competition or for some other purpose, you’ll definitely want to reserve some time for the shops. The on-site luxury retail complex spans an elegant 13,000 square feet, encompassing a wide array of goods and services. This is the place to find the perfect equestrian boots and riding gear, but this retail area also provides many boutiques boasting art, fashion, home décor, jewelry and much more.

If shopping works up an appetite, then explore the Center’s dining options. Enjoy authentic Mexican fare at Filo’s followed by an indulgent ice cream cone from Miss Tilly’s Lollipops. You also have the opportunity to catch up with friends at Ralph’s Burger & Sandwich Shop or share a meal at Viola & Dot’s Italian Kitchen & Pizzeria. New dining options are being made available all the time.

Whether you’re visiting Ocala for an equestrian event or just to get away, be certain to schedule at least one appointment at the Day Spa at World Equestrian Center. The combined salon and spa occupies a 7,000 square foot space, giving everyone plenty of opportunities to relax and indulge. From facials and massages to stylish cuts and updos, this spa and salon does it all.

Did you know that the World Equestrian Center is one of the best places in the region to get married? Start your big day off right with a customizable bridal package at the spa, then head to the elegant on-site chapel. Complete with breathtaking landscaping to provide you with the perfect backdrop for photos, the chapel can seat more than 100 guests, and an oak canopy is located nearby for hosting large receptions. Even catering is available to help put the ideal finishing touch on your celebration.

Conventions and tradeshows are big business at the World Equestrian Center. If your organization is seeking a high-quality event center that boasts plenty of capacity, then your search is done. A total of five exposition centers, totaling more than 600,000 square feet of indoor space, is available for an incredible range of events. The exposition centers have already hosted national, regional and local events for countless organizations and industries.

The exposition centers also are appropriate for hosting an array of indoor sporting events. With plenty of versatility and flexibility, the expo centers feature loading docks, oversized LED screens for scorekeeping and advertising, built-in concessions, audiovisual services and much more. Outdoor fields for sporting events also are available, and the cross country trails offer the ideal facilities to host an event.

Whether you are attending an event at the World Equestrian Center or just want to enjoy an elegant getaway that’s close to home, book a stay at the Center’s hotel. The Equestrian Hotel is stylish and elegant with 248 well-appointed suites and rooms. Many of the rooms even overlook the open-air grand stadium. Located just a few minutes’ walk from the Center’s other facilities, the hotel is the perfect place to relax, shop and dine. Vacation rentals and an RV park are adjacent to the hotel.

Real Estate near the World Equestrian Center

Did you know that it’s even possible to live adjacent to the World Equestrian Center? Each lot features three plus acres on which you can build the home of your dreams. A variety of English and French country designs are currently available. All residents benefit from 24-hour security, an on-site veterinary practice and laundry and dry cleaning services. It’s also possible to garner VIP memberships for golf clubs, equestrian events and the clubhouse.

Additional properties that are move-in ready, including single-family dwellings and condominiums, are available in the adjacent Golden Ocala Golf & Equestrian Club.

Learn More with Florida’s Choice Realty

Are you interested in the equestrian lifestyle? If so, then you’ve got to check out real estate near the World Equestrian Center today. The center is one of the city’s main attractions as well as being a major gathering place for entertainment and commerce.

Living here is just the icing on the cake, so contact us about local real estate today.

Events in Ocala

Things to do throughout the year

People move to Ocala, Florida for any number of reasons. Perhaps it is the climate, the low crime rates or the excellent schools. Whatever draws them here, most residents find that events in Ocala make their hometown even more memorable and special.

The city hosts many fun events each year. Which ones will become your favorites and your family’s can’t-miss traditions?

Head to Tuscawilla Park

Most residents love to attend the Cattle Drive & Cowboy Round-Up in Tuscawilla Park each year. This February event is the perfect time to watch an actual cattle drive and participate in activities that are fun for the whole family.

Each spring, Tuscawilla Park hosts the Tuscawilla Art Park Series, featuring live concerns, open-air art galleries and movies under the stars.

Earthfest Celebrate Arbor Day also happens in Tuscawilla Park each April. There’s something going on for everyone at this festival with its tree rappelling, rock climbing wall and youth fishing derby. With craft vendors, food trucks, live music and more, everyone will love this event.

Celebrate in Downtown Ocala

Downtown is a popular neighborhood with residents and visitors alike thanks to its many restaurants, shops and spas. However, this quarter deserves to be famous for its events as well.

Downtown is the scene of First Friday Art Walk. This event runs from September through May and features the work of more than 30 artists plus live entertainment and creative activities for the whole family. In March of each year, First Friday Art Walk celebrates a Retro Sounds theme with plenty of tribute bands.

If you are looking for even more fun in downtown Ocala, then come back in November for Light Up Ocala. The signature event of the holiday season brightens up the city each year. At the end of November, the city lights its official Christmas tree, and it is an occasion for a big celebration. Expect craft vendors, lots of delicious food and four stages featuring live entertainment. Two highly interactive kid zones make this event a favorite with little ones. Santa is there as well to listen to each child’s dearest wish.

Fort King National Historic Landmark

If you like to have your events tinged with a little bit of historical flavor, then plan to visit the Fort King National Historic Landmark at least a couple of times a year. Late in the winter, the site hosts the Fort King Grit Annual Strength Challenge. With competitions for all levels including beginning, intermediate and advanced, three-person teams are asked to move huge objects over challenging distances. This whole event has a fascinating historical component, as the participants move sandbags, barrels and logs.

Don’t want to participate? This event also is one of the most entertaining to attend as a spectator. Pick your favorite team and cheer them on.

December brings the Fight for Freedom: Attack on Fort King historical reenactment. This educational event chronicles tensions between Native Americans and European settlers during the period just prior to the Second Seminole War.

Horse-Centric Events in Ocala

Do you love horses? If so, then you have chosen the right place to call home. Ocala is well-known as horse country, and there are many stable facilities in the region. One of the most notable of these is the Florida Horse Park.

This 500-acre facility is the premiere venue for equine events in the region. Competitions, shows and events happen throughout the year. The Florida Horse Park Winter Classic is held here each year as is the Grandview Invitational Draft Horse show. Whether your interest is in cutting, dressage, show jumping or something else, you’ll find several exciting events every month.

The park further is host to many club-based organizations as well as eclectic offerings like an RV trade show.

Looking for More?

If you want to find even more family friendly fun and events, then look to neighboring communities such as Gainesville and Mt. Dora. Each one is only a short drive away, and you’ll love the warm and welcoming neighbors that you find here.

Gainesville offers memorable annual events like the Hoggtowne Medieval Faire, Jest Fest, the Alachua County Fair and the Downtown Festival and Art Show.

In Mt. Dora, you can enjoy a storytelling festival, Blueberry Festival and the Mount Dora Scottish Highland Festival.

Look for a Home in Ocala

More and more families are flocking to Ocala because of the incredible standard of living that is available here. If you are interested in knowing more about real estate in Ocala, then contact one of our Realtors today. Each one is an expert on the local market, making it possible for you to find the home of your dreams.

Downtown Square Ocala Florida

Take a Tour of Downtown Ocala

Quaint, historic, lively, and full of surprises is how I would describe downtown Ocala, Florida. One of the things that sets it apart from other communities is its charming downtown square.

In the downtown square you will find families, friends, and co-workers soaking up what this amazing town has to offer. Although I was not born in the era where you went downtown to shop, people watch, and simply be among the action, I can’t help but go there in my imagination when I am walking around the downtown square of Ocala. People are friendly and there is a magical buzz in the air. A buzz that makes you forget life’s stresses for a time. 

Ocala, Florida is a fantastic place to raise a family. Filled with history, great shops, outstanding restaurants and plenty of memorable events, the downtown square is the main gathering place for the entire community.

Ocala’s Early Years

In Ocala’s earliest days, the plat of land on which the city would be built was surveyed by Marion County Engineer David Bruton. One section, called Block 56, was designated as a “Public Square.” This was to be the site of the future courthouse. Other sections were auctioned off, with early buyers building things like a store, a boardinghouse and even the city’s first private residence. By 1847, a post office had been built, and the city’s streets were being formally laid out.

Growth was slow in the ensuing decades because of the Civil War. By 1880, most the city’s buildings were still clustered around the courthouse. Businesses included bakeries, stables, a barber shop, the offices of the Ocala Banner and many homes. Most of these buildings were destroyed by fire a few years later, but the downtown district eventually rebuilt, this time with materials like iron, stone and brick. This led to Ocala being called the “Brick City.” Through two World Wars and the Great Depression, Ocala’s downtown managed to grow and thrive. Although some historic buildings were razed in the 1950s and 1960s, many still stand today to be used and enjoyed by Ocala’s citizens and visitors.

Ocala Today

Today, downtown Ocala is the place to be when it’s time to attend a festive event. It’s everyone’s favorite place to ring in the New Year, and the community returns at the end of the year for Christmas shopping, live music, a tree lighting and other fun events. Between those two momentous occasions, the community gathers at the Reilly Arts Center for unforgettable live performances and at the historic movie houses to watch the latest releases and old-time family favorites. From Easter to the Fourth of July to Halloween, there’s always a festival or party taking place to help everyone feel like they’re part of the community.


Opportunities to eat and drink with friends abound in downtown Ocala. Locals know that the best place to experience a Rooftop Lunch is at Pi on Broadway while the best caffeine jolt is found at Symmetry Coffee & Crepes. If you’re looking for a bakery that serves healthy options, then look no further than A Thousand Hills Farmacy & Café. Desserts are covered by Ocala’s Chocolates & Confections, and if a burger and milkshake are what you’re craving, then you’ve got to go to Ocala’s Downtown Diner.

Craft beers and mead are found at The Keep Downtown and Infinite Ale Works, and the Corkscrew Winery serves up the opportunity for customers to ferment their own wine. Enjoy a unique evening at the Tipsy Skipper, an unlikely tiki bar that’s always hosting riotous events. Brick City Southern Kitchen & Whiskey Bar is the perfect place to partake of both authentic southern barbecue and unforgettable whiskeys.

Our Favorite Restaurants

Sink your teeth into some amazing steak and great atmosphere at:

Mark’s Prime Steakhouse 30 S Magnolia Ave, Ocala, FL 34471 (352) 402-0097

Are your tastebuds craving great seafood?

Harry’s Seafood Bar & Grille 24 SE 1st Ave, Ocala, FL 34471 (352) 840-0900

Sushi fan? Be sure and stop in for the best at:

Sushi Bistro of Ocala 18 SE Broadway St, Ocala, FL 34471(352) 401-7650

A fantastic place to go and get some work done while sipping some of their fabulous coffee or snacking on one of their impressive pastries. 

Symmetry Coffee Crepes 108 N Magnolia Ave STE 102, Ocala, FL 34475 (352) 525-0495

Whether you are out on the town with your favorite person or need to impress a business partner, you can’t go wrong.

Brick City Southern Kitchen & Whiskey Bar 10 S Magnolia Ave, Ocala, FL 34471 (352) 512-9458


We love to celebrate the history and culture of Ocala by having community events throughout the year. Friday art walks and movies in the park are events are some of the event staples through the year but Ocala also boasts large annual festivals like the Cattle Drive and Cowboy Roundup. Check all the events that downtown Ocala hosts on their site.


Of course, you won’t want to miss the opportunity to do some shopping while you’re downtown. This is the perfect place to find unique shops like the Marley Mae Market & Paperie, The Mustard Seed Collection, Agapanthus, The Pink Hanger Collection and many more. Offering unique gift items and home décor, these stores are bound to delight shoppers. Don’t forget to visit the Ocala Downtown Market, a massive farmers’ market that offers up some of the freshest produce around.

Living in Ocala

Of course, downtown Ocala isn’t just the best place to catch a movie, get a massage, shop to your heart’s content or feast on a gourmet meal. It’s also a fantastic place to live. Single-family dwellings that provide excellent proximity to downtown are widely available. Many of these homes are located in the city’s most desirable neighborhoods, offering you the opportunity to enjoy the best of suburbia and urban accessibility.

If you want to be even closer to the beating heart of downtown, then consider choosing a condominium. Some of these properties are located adjacent to or just a couple of blocks away from Ocala’s Downtown Square. Many of these condo units were built within the last few years, and new neighborhoods are in the process of being constructed. Don’t miss your opportunity to get in on one of the newest condo developments in Ocala’s downtown.

Ocala’s unique downtown district successfully blends a history that dates back to 1846 and brand-new development that includes all of the modern conveniences. If you like the idea of being able to attend year-round community events in a stress-free manner and being able to eat at your favorite restaurant every night of the week, then it’s definitely time to consider real estate near downtown Ocala.

Living close to your preferred shops, bars and restaurants can become reality for you. Contact our downtown Ocala real estate professionals to learn more about your options for owning a home in this vibrant neighborhood.

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4 Most Popular Community Types in Ocala

Growth in Ocala

In the last few years Ocala has grown in multiple ways. With many large companies moving into the area, it has brought with it growth in all areas. Recently the brand new Hilton Garden Inn opened in Downtown Ocala, which has brought what was already a very active downtown life to the next level. With many well known companies opening distributions centers and/or headquarters such as Chewy, FedEx, AT&T, AutoZone, & Hello General to name a few.

More and more people are moving to Ocala each year, since 2010 there has been a 10% growth and 2.3% job growth in the last year. That may not seem like a lot but U-Haul ranked Ocala third in growth cities in the US for 2019.

Ocala is the place to be for jobs, fun, incredible housing opportunities, equestrian lovers, ages of all kinds, those that love outdoor activities and those that simply love being at home with their families and loved ones.

It’s the growth and opportunity that are driving people to Ocala but it’s the variety of community options that make people love the area.

World Equestrian Center Estates

Ocala, Florida literally has something for everyone especially the horse lovers. The World Equestrian Center is nestled among some of the most beautiful horse farms in the nation. It has the distinction of being the largest equestrian complex in the United States. So if this is your vibe, you might be interested in the gated community, Saddle Wood where you can have the neighborhood experience along with your very own land and farm. If you’re looking for a majestic masterpiece standing tall among 50+ acres of rolling hills, The World Equestrian Center in Ocala has just what you are looking for.

Historic District Homes

If Historical stately homes your style, then look no further. The Ocala historic district has some of the most amazing history. This residential neighborhood covers 172.5 acres that is only blocks from the happening downtown. This incredible district developed as a residential neighborhood between 1880 and 1930.

There are many Queen Anne Revival style homes built prior to 1910. The following two decades revival style homes were all the fashion. Bungalows and vernacular style homes round out the typical home styles in Historic Ocala. Regardless of your style you’re guaranteed to be in awe as you drive these streets and see history at its best.  

New Construction in Ocala

New construction communities are sprouting up to meet the demand of all the growth in the Ocala area and if new construction is what you are looking for, Ocala has it all. With new subdivisions and new homes being built in multiple areas throughout Ocala and Marion County, ranging from the mid 100’s and up, there is no doubt that you will find your new home.  Get in on pre-construction and design your new home or buy one that has already been designed and built.

We have new home lists and special incentives for anyone looking for to buy a new home in one of new communities here in Ocala. Please reach out and let us help you navigate the complexities of a new home build.

Retirement Communities in Ocala

Florida offers so many opportunities for all ages but it’s the retirement communities that Ocala has become famous for. The many lifestyle options in these communities have attracted transplants from all over the United States. With more than 55 such communities there is no doubt you will find the right one for your needs and desires. Some of these communities are Trilogy of Ocala, Ocala Run, On Top of the World, Summerglen, and many more. 


Although Ocala has all of this to offer and more, the fact that Marion county covers such a large land mass, it still maintains the small town qualities and virtues that we all love.

5 Reasons People Choose to Move to Ocala

Is Ocala a Good Place to Live?

The central Florida city of Ocala is packed with extraordinary experiences. From natural wonders in the Ocala National Forest and Silver Springs State Park to man-made attractions like the Appleton Museum of Art and the Fort King National Historic Landmark, Ocala is a wonderful place to visit.

We often get asked “Is Ocala is a good place to live?”. Here are five reasons why people move to Ocala and why it’s more than a place to visit.

1. Everything You Need with a Small Town Atmosphere

Ocala’s city planners have carefully managed development over the years. The result is the ideal balance between having access to everything you need and not sacrificing a warm and hospitable small-town feeling.

This makes Ocala a fantastic place to start out in life, raise a family or retire. Whatever stage of life you’re in, you’ll find an abundance of jobs, restaurants, shops and houses of worship. The schools are recognized for the quality education that they offer, and residents are free to discover a wide range of recreational possibilities.

Ocala features excellent community connection. You’ll probably get to be good friends with your neighbors, which is a rarity in other cities. Plus, Ocala’s quaint downtown district is a favorite place to hang out, dine and shop. You’ll even find several fun festivals on the calendar.

2. It’s the Horse Capital of the World

How did a mid-sized Florida city earn a reputation as the Horse Capital of the World? By boasting a surprising number of prestigious breeding facilities.

When you visit Ocala, you’ll discover that you don’t have to travel far to discover mile upon mile of pastureland. All of it is beautifully fenced in with white or brown lumber. Immaculate barns are seen on the horizon. As you watch, sleek, muscular animals graze in the pastures or are put through their paces by experienced trainers. There’s no mistaking that this is serious horse country.

In fact, Marion County boasts in excess of 600 farms that raise and train Thoroughbreds, making it one of just four Thoroughbred centers on the planet. Altogether, the local horse farms have produced six Kentucky Derby winners, 20 Breeders’ Cup champions and 45 national champions.

If horse lovers need even more incentive to make Ocala home, consider that the World Equestrian Center soon will be open. This elegant facility will feature almost 20 multi-purpose outdoor arenas, riding trails, schooling areas, climate-controlled barns and much more.

3. Ocala Is a Haven for Outdoor Recreation Enthusiasts

If you enjoy other outdoor recreation as an alternative to horseback riding, then you’re in luck. Ocala is filled with recreational options.

Water sports are particularly popular in the region, with many locals indulging in kayaking, canoeing, boating and tubing. You might explore along the Ocklawaha River one day and then Lake Weir the next. Or, you could spend a lifetime discovering the more than 600 springs, rivers and lakes of the Ocala National Forest.

Fishing for crappie, bass, catfish and more is popular with local anglers. You’ll be spoiled for choice with diverse locations like Fore Lake Recreation Area, Rainbow Springs State Park and the Lake Eaton Pier to name a few.

Hikers love to explore the miles of trails in the many parks, and cyclists find plenty to occupy them here too. Diverse activities like hunting, birding and off-road riding vie for the attention of outdoor adventurers.

It’s all yours for the asking, and with an average of 233 sunny days every year, you’ll have lots of time for exploration.

4. An Ideal Central Location

It’s hard to imagine a more ideal location than the one that Ocala occupies. That’s because the city is situated in the geographic center of Florida. No matter where you want to visit in the state, you’re just a short drive away.

You can be in Daytona within an hour and a half where you can enjoy the beach or catch a NASCAR race. With just slightly more time in the car, you’ll find yourself in St. Augustine. This ancient city boasts not only the beach but also some of the oldest and most fascinating historic sites in the U.S.

Larger cities like Gainesville and Jacksonville are found to the north. Gainesville features attractions such as the Florida Museum of Natural History, the Kanapaha Botanical Gardens and the Harn Museum of Art. In Gainesville, you’ll also find the University of Florida, which offers a wide range of prestigious degree programs. Jacksonville boasts popular sites like the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens, MOSH and the Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens.

If thrill rides are more your style, then venture an hour or so south to Orlando. Known as the theme park capital of the world, this is where you’ll find Disney World, Universal Studios, Sea World and more.

With equally convenient access to the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean, beach getaways are always on the itinerary. Plus, you’ll have your pick of big-city thrills with a drive of an hour or two. No wonder people say that Ocala is perfectly located.

5. Ocala Is Affordable

In recent years, Florida’s cities have acquired a reputation for pricey real estate. However, that’s not the case in Ocala. Compare real estate here with other communities in Florida, and you will be pleasantly surprised. With lower home prices, you’ll be able to get more home for your money.

Plus, Ocala occupies a large region with acres of land. This means that you’ll probably find a larger lot than you will in other Florida cities, ensuring you a bigger yard and more privacy.

Even with all of those advantages, you’ll find that your property tax bill remains attractively low. It’s just one more reason that families are coming home to Ocala.

Are You Ready to Make a Move?

If you were asking yourself if Ocala is a good place to live and after reading this article are interested in what Ocala can offer your family, then call Florida’s Choice Realty. Our expert Realtors are always prepared to share their love of the local area with families who are thinking about moving to Ocala. Call us today to or fill out the form below to learn more.

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