A small city, full of horses, historical buildings, and Travoltas…as in actor John Travolta, his wife actress Kelly Preston, and their children. Aside from these celebrities, Ocala is actually just a simple city with a variety of architecture that would drive you insane with awe. With only 38.63 square miles of land, Ocala is home to a population of less than 58,000 people.
The early history of Ocala involves the inhabitants of the Timucua indigenous group. The city is actually located near what is believed to be the site of the Ocale, a major Timucua village, in the 16th century. The name of the city came from this village and is said to mean “Big Hammock” in the native tongue. There was a big gap in time of the city’s history which is thought to have been abandoned after 1539.
In 1827, after war to the North, the U.S. Army built Fort King near Ocala as a buffer between the Seminole and the white settlers. Ocala was established around the fort in 1846. The town was incorporated in 1869, and it officially became a city in 1885. The first thoroughbred horse farm in Florida was developed in 1943 – Rosemere Farm – the following year one of the horses from this farm won at Miami’s Tropical Park. Another horse farm was developed soon after which produced the first Florida winner of the Kentucky Derby. The wins continued on over the years and today, Marion County is a major thoroughbred center of the world, with more than 1,200 horse farms, totaling 77,000 acres. Ocala is highly well known as “Horse Capital of the World.”
Things to Do in Ocala
Yes it is well established that Ocala is a small city. You don’t move here to live like you’re in Miami, but that doesn’t mean life here is boring. There are some fun things to do in Ocala and the nearby community of Silver Springs.
Downtown Ocala is a wonderful combination of all the essential downtown amenities, such as art, history, fine dining, and entertainment. While here you can view a hit new movie release with a nostalgic feel as you visit the historic Marion Theatre. You might also enjoy an enchanting evening at The Wine Experience. Please your palette with a delicious meal at any of the amazing eateries in the area, as there is a range of cuisines to choose from.
Events take place in Downtown Ocala all the time. There are special events popping up here and there every month. Other events occur more regularly like the Anytime! Ocala Ghosts Walks that are available seven days a week, or the Ocala Farmer’s Market every Saturday, or Brunch at Pi every Sunday. Don’t forget to leave room in your car for the extra bags you’ll bring home after a great shopping experience as you ventured through the many boutiques and galleries.
Downtown Ocala is your one stop, unique destination. The restaurants, events, and nightlife venues in the downtown area cater to all ages. There is no other place where you can get lost in history while experiencing the culture and lifestyle of present day Ocala, and imagining the future possibilities at the same time.
If you wish to get out and explore nature, take a trip to the Ocala National Forest. It is the second largest nationally-protected forest in the nation and is only three miles from Ocala. You can also hike one of the country’s National Scenic trails – the Florida Trail. This trail runs for 1,000 miles and runs through the Ocala National Forest. For some more family fun take a short trip to Silver Springs for a fun day at the Wild Waters water park or the Silver Springs Theme Park.
What to Consider When Moving to Ocala:
When moving to an apartment in Ocala, just as with any new place, you must consider all the important elements about your future home. The celebrity presence is pretty awesome, but there is more to the city. Big things to consider are what part of the city do you wish to live in, the local school system, and whatever other important facts that can find.
There are four historic districts in the city of Ocala – Ocala, Downtown Ocala, West Ocala, and Tuscawilla Park.
The Ocala Historic District was developed as a residential neighborhood of the city between 1880 and 1930. The original character of this 172.5 acre area still remains. The houses in this district are made with many different architectural styles to include Queen Anne Revival, Mediterranean Revival, Romanesque, American Bungalows and Vernacular, just to name a few. Live Oak trees provide a significant amount of coverage of the houses and streets.
The Downtown Ocala Historic District began developing in the 1840s as the town of Ocala saw its first bit of settlement within its commercial center. From then on, the downtown area continued steady growth. The majority of the surviving commercial structures of this district were built between 1884 and 1946. The Agnew-Gary Block, the Gary Block, and the Union Block are the oldest documented structures. Aside from a few of the buildings, the architecture used in this area is Masonry Vernacular, Commercial Vernacular, or Art Moderne.
The West Ocala Historic District began with the expansion of the city limits and the moving of many African American residents west of downtown in the 1880s. Some of the most prosperous African Americans lived in West Ocala and it flourished greatly with commercial enterprises, education, business, and religion until World War II. After the war the district changed greatly, as the highway system was upgraded causing many businesses and residents to be lost, the prestigious homes were destroyed, and the character of the community lost as well.
The Tuscawilla Park Historic District has local significance in many ways. This is a residential area, northeast of downtown that developed when the city was a center for tourism, phosphate and citrus. The buildings in this district are from 1877 to 1930. The Tuscawilla Park District is significant for its association with many of the city’s prominent businessmen, politicians, and civic leaders. The state’s oldest existing building to be designated as a synagogue, built 1888, is located here. Most of the residential architecture is Frame Vernacular, but also includes Second Empire, Colonial Revival, Gothic Revival, Spanish Revival, Georgian Revival, Carpenter Gothic, and more.
Why Ocala Apartments Are Hot:
It’s a well-known saying to never judge a book by its cover, and when it comes to Ocala, that definitely applies. The size of the city might trick you into thinking there couldn’t possibly be anything to do here, but you would be sorely mistaken. Outside of all of these Ocala apartments awaits the breathtaking landscape of the city and surrounding areas, inspiring historical architecture, a thriving downtown with all modern needs, and a tradition of horse breeding excellence. There is nothing that you can’t do in Ocala.
Riding on horse trails in the Ocala National Forest and on the Greenway Trail System.
Equestrian events, such as the Horse Shows in the Sun competition, a seven-week event.
Catching a performance at the Ocala Civic Theatre, the second-largest community theater in the state.
Snorkeling and cave diving in the beautiful, clear Salt Springs in the Ocala National Forest.
Riding the 40-foot-tall “Alligator Ambush” and five water slides at Wild Waters Water Park.
The College of Central Florida, a public college established in 1957, offers several degree programs.