An Ocala Florida travel guide will help you make the most of your visit to Ocala, whether you’re planning to stay there only briefly or you want to settle down and work in this beautiful Florida city. Ocala, Florida, makes a great vacation destination whether you’re planning to visit the area or with your family and friends.
There are plenty of things to do and places to see during your visit, but if you have a particular itinerary in mind, that can make the process even easier. If you’re looking for the best things to do in Ocala, consider the following ideas, including what time of year to visit, where to stay, and which activities are best at which times of the day.
This travel guide to Ocala will give you an insight into what makes Ocala such a special place while also preparing the tips on how to make the most of your time here and suggestions on where to stay and what to do while you’re in town.
Ocala Florida travel guide: How to make the most of your visit to Ocala
The best time to visit Ocala
The weather in central Florida can be unpredictable, with just a few miles separating sunny skies from pouring rain. The best time to visit is up to you, but here are some guidelines.
The fall months (September through November) offer beautiful weather and lower crowds. It’s also less expensive during these months. The winter is cold and gets more expensive as Christmas approaches; mid-January to early February is the peak tourist season, and prices tend to rise accordingly.
Try spring or summer for warm temperatures without humidity; rainy days are possible but not guaranteed. If you’re planning on visiting between late June and early September, be prepared for intense heat (the average high for July/August is 95).
Visit during January and March if you want milder temps and smaller crowds. And if you want to beat those massive lines at Disney World, consider visiting over Thanksgiving break or in March when schools let out for Spring Break.
No matter what time of year it is, plan on long lines at theme parks like Disney World (especially at Halloween!) since they draw millions of visitors each year.
Plan your day by starting early before everyone else arrives to avoid long waits and crowding around attractions! Use free tools like Google Maps’ My Maps feature to create custom maps with info about parking lots, rides, restaurants, and even bathroom locations throughout Disney World.
Things to do in the surrounding areas of Ocala
There are so many great things to do outside Ocala that you’ll never be bored. Here are a few recommendations, in no particular order: The Villages, Lake Weir State Park, Silver Springs State Park, Marion County Historical Museum and Cheerleaders Hall of Fame, Babcock Ranch, and King Ranch.
We also recommend spending some time at one (or more) of these Florida theme parks within a 1-2 hour drive from here: Disney World Orlando, SeaWorld Orlando, and Universal Studios Orlando. If you’re looking for even more options, check out our list of nearby attractions.
Where to eat out in downtown Ocala
It can be fun to plan out every detail when you’re planning a trip. But sometimes, there’s value in just knowing where and what nearby options are. You can check out the best restaurants in Ocala, Florida.
Downtown Ocala has several great restaurant choices that are worth considering. Start with Taqueria El Mero Taco on Northwest 6th Street –it offers authentic Mexican food that won’t leave you feeling heavy and stuffed (plus, they have delicious margaritas).
Another good choice is Homestead Tavern on Southeast 7th Street. It offers high-quality casual fare made from fresh, locally sourced ingredients; trust us, their peanut butter pie is enough reason alone to go there!
And if you want something more upscale, head over to The Palms at City Place. You’ll find both American and Italian cuisine here, and because it’s located inside City Place Mall, you can shop for unique finds while waiting for your table.
Where to stay while visiting Ocala
In downtown Ocala, you can find luxury hotels and restaurants mixed with quaint B&Bs. Nearby natural areas, like Silver Springs and Lake Weir, have popular campgrounds among those on a budget.
If you’re visiting family or looking for an alternative to local hotels, consider staying with a host from one of Airbnb’s more than 3,000 listings in Ocala.
Hosts typically offer lodging in their primary residences, which means you’ll get all of the personal touches with couch-surfing. A word of caution: some properties are better than others when it comes to location; request pictures from potential hosts before booking, so you know what you’re getting into.
To ensure that your trip is as comfortable as possible, we recommend searching for hotels on Airbnb and booking.
Getting around town
The easiest way to get around Ocala is by car. If you’re travelling from outside Florida, it can be less expensive and more convenient to fly to one of Orlando’s airports (MCO, ORL) and rent a car for a few days than it would be to take a shuttle.
If you’re visiting from within Florida, though, plenty of bus services are available. Be sure you know where you want to go before boarding services don’t have fixed stops and only drop off passengers at designated areas.
There are also plenty of taxi services in Ocala; if you decide to take a cab during your trip, consider using Uber or Lyft instead. These companies use GPS tracking to match riders with drivers, who then pick up their passengers at their location.
These apps allow riders to see how far away their driver is, how long they expect it will take them to arrive, and what type of vehicle they’ll be riding in. Both Uber and Lyft offer discounts for first-time users, so now might be a good time if you haven’t tried either service yet!
What is Ocala best known for?
Although often overshadowed by its neighbouring city, Orlando, Florida, has more to offer than just theme parks. The diverse culture and opportunities found in many areas throughout Central Florida are truly world-class.
One such area is Ocala, located just north of Orlando but south of Gainesville. There is something for everyone in Ocala with a charming small-town feel and big-city amenities! So grab your map, hop in your car and check out these must-see attractions!
Is Ocala worth visiting?
Florida is one of America’s most popular vacation destinations, with one in every nine visitors coming here! A trip to Florida wouldn’t be complete without a stopover in Ocala.
Aside from its reputation as an agricultural and forestry centre, it also offers abundant attractions and experiences that will surely keep you busy.
Plan a trip to one of Florida’s top attractions and get inspired by one of its best-kept secrets. The next time you consider moving, consider relocating to beautiful Ocala, where you can enjoy all four seasons without sacrificing a comfortable lifestyle.
If you’re already an Ocala resident and are looking for things to do in town, keep reading our page on local attractions and find out what’s going on! Our city events calendar includes art shows, concerts, festivals, and more, so you can always stay in the know when it comes to town events.
And don’t forget that the real estate market in Ocala is always booming, so now is as good a time as any to invest if you have your eye on a home here!