City of Ocala Florida
Named an "All America City" in 1995, Ocala is the county seat, and has a present population of 46,453 making it the largest city in the county. Drive down Fort King Street in the Ocala historic district, and you will be impressed by the obvious care taken with the renovation and preservation of the area's homes.
Several major highways pass through Ocala, including Interstate 75, U.S. Highway 27, U.S. Route 301, and U.S. Highway 441. Ocala was on the Western leg of the historic Dixie Highway.
In Florida there is a saying, "The North's in the South and the South's in the North". Because of this Ocala is considered by many Floridians to be where the "South" starts. While there are many smaller towns south of Ocala that are southern culturally, Ocala is the first "Southern" city of any significance reached when traveling north from Central Florida.
Downtown Ocala has been revitalized during the past several years with renovations to the town square, and the beautification of historic buildings surrounding it. The Ocala Down-town Development Commission and a coalition of citizens, property owners, and public officials are working steadily to continue the economic revitalization of downtown. In the past year the Ocala Police Department moved into new quarters on South Pine Street; Ocala Electric Utility built a new Customer Services Office adjacent to City Hall; and the City Auditorium which has served as a focal point for a wide range of community activities. Early in 2003, the Ocala Recreation & Parks Department will move into new quarters off Sanchez Avenue, an attractive addition to the Tuscawilla Park campus.
In addition to the Ocala/Marion County Chamber of Commerce building, the Ocala Public Library, a variety of large and small restaurants, Brick City Center for the Art, shops, financial institutions, and commercial businesses are located around the square or within a short walk. The center of Ocala has come to life in the evening with a number of restaurants, clubs, and special events bringing people back downtown. On Friday and Saturday evenings, horse drawn carriage rides bring a touch of the past to visitors. Distinctive neighborhoods with lovely homes are situated throughout the city in price ranges for every budget. Each spring dogwoods, azaleas, and other colorful flowers invite visitors to drive along the tree-shaded streets.
Dining and Lodging
The hospitality industry is booming in Marion County. Accommodations are available to fit any budget during your visit. From Bed and Breakfasts to large chain hotels, Ocala/Marion County has it all.
Enjoy many of the different dining experiences Marion County has to offer. The Chamber provides a comprehensive listing of restaurants to suit most any craving you may have.
Parks and Recreation
Marion County has the same land area as the entire state of Rhode Island. For people who enjoy the outdoors, there are places to go and things to do all year round. The county is famous for its huge oaks, festooned with Spanish moss and the towering sand pines of the Ocala National Forest. Flowers bloom in every season of the year, filling the landscape with color and the air with their fragrance. The subtropical climate makes Marion County a vacation land year-round. Little wonder that residents spend as much time as possible outdoors.
Find dining and lodging for your visit to Marion County. Or, see the attractions our area offers: