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.
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.