Out of all the clubs and bars in a city, 10Best narrows the options to those places with the most appeal and the best reputations. We offer a carefully vetted selection to let you explore Ocala nightlife on your own. If time is really tight, though, and you don't have the leisure to look through all our offerings, we present our Ocala Best Nightlife list. Here, we distill the best businesses down to a special selection of ten. These places promise a stellar experience and a taste of the city that you just can't miss.
6 Bankshot Billiards
Whether you crave a round of eight-ball or just want to practice your stop shot and your English, this well-equipped place stands at the ready. Beneath high ceilings, 17 tables cater to folks of all skill levels. Pub food helps restore your energy, and a full bar keeps refreshments flowing. Plus, Bankshot's "Rhythm Room" supplies great music throughout the night, not to mention awesome light shows. Table rentals begin at $4 an hour for one person. A repair service for tables and cues is also available. (352-867-8100)
5 Midnight Rodeo and Zanzabar
Curiously enough, these two clubs — one a country venue and the other a hip-hop haven — are neighbors in the same complex. They attract tons of attention from local club-goers, and on weekends, you'll likely have to brave a line of folks waiting to get in. Large dance floors and great music get lots of praise, and the social scene is a huge draw at both places. Special events at Midnight Rodeo include karaoke and line dancing lessons; at Zanzabar, weekly contests and ladies' night regularly pull patrons in. (352-369-4014)
4 Ocala Wine Experience
Owned by an English woman with an affinity for good wines, this cozy establishment has become an Ocala mainstay. A downtown location puts it in the thick of things, and guests drop in to buy vintages by the bottle or to lounge in the Bistro Room, which offers by-the-glass wines and light fare. In the courtyard, fine cigars can be savored, and on weekends, live music adds to the relaxed ambience. Prominently displayed in the wine bar is the owner's own brand of California-produced wines, the colorfully named Horse's Ass line. (352-369-9858)
3 Tin Cup's Tavern
Sometimes, you just want to kick back and relax to some good music, away from meat-market posturing and too-loud dance mixes. Tin Cup's in perfect synch with such an inclination, and they deliver it with great local bands. Music is reliably strong, and the less mainstream rock and country originals are a welcome departure from cover tunes and self-indulgent dreck. Audiences respond to the talent, and the atmosphere is completely conducive to comfortable listening and easy-going nights. (352-690-6902)
2 Second Thought Improv
If the work week's been stressful and your schedule is overrun with obligations, relieve the tension at these gut-busting shows. Rife with topical humor, they also rely on input from the audience, guaranteeing that no two events are ever the same. With plenty of non sequiturs and quick word associations, the improv performances will have you marveling at the wit of talented performers and wondering why you were ever so uptight about things in the first place. A great break from run-of-the-mill bar-hopping. The troup is also available for private functions. Visit their Myspace page for showtimes and locations.
1 Charlie Horse Restaurant & Lounge
Most times, this casual place is filled with locals intent on finding some good burgers and steaks. However, the laid-back atmosphere gives way to more energetic behavior once 9pm rolls around. At that point, karaoke makes its way to the forefront, and patrons send out their best renditions of classics and current hits. A full bar ensures that hesitation and shyness are minimized, and camaraderie brings together all the people who get up and show off for friends and strangers. (352-622-4050)