Ocala is known around the world for being the ultimate destination for horse lovers, but it also offers a wide range of other experiences, from art and culture to drag racing and foodie destinations. No matter what gets you excited, there is something to spark that flame here in Ocala.
If you are thinking about planning a weekend trip to Ocala, we took the time to put together this 48-hour itinerary to help you make sure that you don’t miss anything this amazing place has to offer.
Day One – Tacos, Art, Southern Cooking, and Craft Beer
Everyone’s first stop upon arrival in Ocala should always be La Hacienda for some outstanding authentic Mexican cuisine. It’s going to be a fun 48-hours, so fuel your body the right way with their tacos and burritos made with homemade flour and corn tortillas. And don’t be shy about asking for more chips and salsa!
After properly fueling our bodies, our next stop in Ocala is going to be the Appleton Museum of Art. This massive museum and gallery space is home to more than 18,000 different objects that criss-cross their way through Europe, Asia, African, and the Americas. There are also exhibits that focus specifically on Florida artists, as well as traveling exhibits that are constantly changing.
For dinner on our first night in Ocala, we are going to keep things casual at Brick City Southern Kitchen & Whiskey Bar. If you are passionate about BBQ and whiskey, this is going to be a life-changing experience for you. And even if you aren’t, there are still plenty of non-BBQ meal choices and fancy umbrella-style cocktails to choose from.
If you are feeling like a nightcap after dinner, we’re going to head over to Infinite Ale Works. This local brewery always has something fun on tap, and if you happen to visit on a Friday or Saturday night, you can usually catch some live music too.
Day Two – Horses, Cubans, Kayaking, Red Sauce, and Cocktails
Ocala is famous for its horses, and we are going to embrace that by visiting The Gypsy Gold Farm where you can take a full tour of the property and learn all about how they operate their stables. From here, we can either hook up with Farm Tours of Ocala to visit some other horse farms, or we can sign up for horseback riding tours with Cactus Jack’s Trail Rides.
Cafe Havana is our lunch destination today, and they are known for having some of the best Cuban food in the area. You’ll definitely want to try the Mojo Pork, but don’t forget to make sure you order the coconut rice and the black beans as well.
Since we have already spent the first half of the day outside, we might as well keep that going and check out the beautiful Silver Springs River after lunch. If you’re feeling adventurous, you’ll have a blast on one of the guided kayak tours with Silver Springs Kayaking. And if you prefer to stay on dry land, you can have an equally enjoyable afternoon strolling through Silver Springs State Park.
After going casual on our first night in Ocala, you might be looking for something a little more upscale on your second night in town. Mesa de Notte is the perfect option for celebrating a special occasion, and that is exactly what your trip to Ocala is going to be. Take your pick from their full menu of classic Italian dishes, and make sure that you leave room for dessert.
Our final destination for the evening is going to be Tavern on the Square, which is known for great live music and fun cocktails. Kick back and relax with your favorite cocktail and enjoy the music!
Day Three – Drag Racing, Brunch, and Shopping
One of the most popular tourist destinations in Ocala is the Don Garlits Museum of Drag Racing. Even non-racing fans love spending the 2-3 hours it takes to work their way through the almost 300 cars on display here. There are more than 90 racing cars and 50 antique cars that tell the entire history of drag racing right in front of you.
The Ivy House is our lunch destination today, and you will love the cafe-style atmosphere located right in the heart of town. And if you are lucky enough to visit on a Sunday, you will get to experience one of the best brunch menus in all of Florida.
After brunch or lunch at The Ivy House, our final stop in Ocala is just a simple stroll through the downtown shopping district. The streets are filled with boutiques, gift shops, and antique stores that display almost as much local charm as they do items for sale.
Where to Stay in Ocala
If you are looking for a great value on a nice hotel room in Ocala, the Hampton Inn & Suites Ocala is probably going to be your best option. It’s located just off of I-75 and is within walking distance of just about everything in town.
Another great hotel option right in Ocala is the Hilton Ocala, which boasts a ton of fun amenities like a yoga studio, carriage rides, and a stunning pool that could occupy plenty of your 48 hours if you let it.
For a more romantic experience, you can’t do better than the historic Herlong Mansion Bed and Breakfast in nearby Micanopy. It’s located a good 30 minutes north of Ocala, so it will definitely increase the travel time getting to town, but the experience is well worth the extra mileage.
After spending 48 hours enjoying the best of Ocala, don’t be surprised if you find yourself thinking about moving to horse country. And even if you aren’t, you’ll still be thinking about how soon you can book your next trip to the area.
Nearby Retirement Options
Located in beautiful Ocala Florida, On Top of the World residents can enjoy any schedule that suits their tastes – from activity packed to unhurried.
Leisure amenities include 54 holes of golf on three courses, indoor and outdoor swimming pools, tennis courts, a 14-acre R/C flying field, bocce, racquetball and basketball courts, fitness center, health club and spa, restaurants, cultural venues, and much more.
Residents can also participate in over 175 clubs, leagues, hobbies, and lifelong learning opportunities.
New homes are of quality construction, often exceeding ENERGY STAR criteria while offering comfort, convenience, and a wide variety of design elements.
There are 22 floor plans available with prices ranging to suit every budget starting in the mid $100k’s.