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Ocala Travel Guide
Get Your Bearings in OcalaWhere to Stay
Ocala travelers should consider a stay in one of the many hotels close to interstate 75 and 350. The ease of highway access offered by these hotels makes exploring the area's attractions simple. A stay in any of the hotels within in this area will provide you with the convenience you crave to enjoy the area. Ranging in price and amenities, you are sure to find your ideal hotel.
Hot Tips: Ocala is best explored by car as attractions extend well beyond the downtown area.
What to Eat
Ocala has its share of restaurants from large chains that line the main strips to more upscale options and interesting offerings that are sprinkled around Ocala's downtown. If you want to enjoy a fancy meal, get your pub fix or find a more ethnic offering, then you'll want to check out the streets of downtown Ocala.
Avoid: Getting overdressed; Ocala attire is casual, except at the most upscale restaurants.
Be Sure to Sample: Oranges, grapefruit, gator.
Things to See
Ocala may be known as horse country, but this central Florida city, which replaces waterfront with the beauty of rolling hills and green space, offers much more than just a visit to a few horse farms. From drag racing to art museums to outdoor adventures, Ocala has something to suit your tastes. A trip to Ocala is not complete without touring some of the best places it has to offer (outside the farms), but be prepared to bounce around as Ocala's attractions are not all in one area.
Caution: Some Ocala attractions have seasonal hours/close for the season; check before you go.
Places to Party
Ocala's nightlife is not confined to a central location, but rather spread out around town. However, those looking to make a couple of stops in one night should spend some time downtown where there are several appealing locations that range from the casual pub to an upscale wine excursion, as well as a movie theater.
Take It or Leave It: The Wine Experience is a unique location where you can sample wine by the glass that you may not spring for by the bottle.
Where to Shop
Ocala shopping consists of small shops downtown, strip malls along major roads and a few indoor destinations housing the big box and specialty stores you crave. For something different, stroll the streets of downtown and pop into the small shops that offer a variety of goods that you can't find just anywhere, and some you won't find outside of Ocala.
Take It or Leave It: Sales tax is applied to everything except groceries and prescription drugs.
Best Local Souvenir: An artistic creation from Brick City Center for the Arts.
Backdrop for the 1941 film "Moon Over Miami" — and many other cinematic showpieces — Ocala is distinctly beautiful, thanks to trailing Spanish moss and rolling pastureland. The Marion County town has even been ranked one of Forbes magazine's top twenty best small towns in which to live. Ocala sits in the middle of Florida horse country and is home to more than 400 farms, many of which are dedicated to thoroughbred breeding and training. As a result, the city has produced six Kentucky Derby winners and annually showcases hunting and jumping competitions during the Horse Show in the Sun festival. Flanked by undulating bluegrass fields and lush forests, Ocala offers genteel Southern charm. In town, the Ocala Historic District features a 55-block stretch of Victorian homes; other easily accessible attractions include Silver Springs, Ocala National Forest, Appleton Museum of Art and Don Garlits Museum of Drag Racing. Plus, oceanside fun is only 80 miles away in Daytona Beach, and Orlando is little more than a hour distant.