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10 Interesting Facts About Ocala That’ll Help You Make That Move  

Ocala is very popular among retirees. With the many 55+ communities in the area, it has become a popular destination for active adults.

The website,, lists Ocala as no. 15 in the top 20 most popular places to retire in. So, if you’re seriously considering it as your retirement destination, get to know what Ocala has to offer you first.

It’s not enough to just look into the 55+ communities of Ocala. You need to familiarize yourself with the surrounding areas as well. Here are 10 interesting facts about Ocala that can help you decide if it’s the right retirement place for you.

#1. Cost of Living is Very Affordable

The first interesting fact about Ocala is that the cost of living is very affordable. As it is, Florida is an affordable place to live. As compared to the other states, it is but it’s still a bit higher than the average of 100.

If you zoom into Ocala, the overall cost of living is 83.8. Now, that is just a few points lower than the average of 100.

If you look at all the basic needs like grocery, health, housing, utilities, transportation, and miscellaneous; they’re all pretty much lower than the average 100.   This pretty much makes Ocala a great place to retire in.

#2. Its Location is Very Convenient 

Ocala is located in the beautiful Marion County. Marion County is one of the 67 counties of Florida and it’s in the north-central.

The central location of Ocala is considered to be the most ideal in the state. Living in Ocala means you’re just a few hours’ drive from the white-sand beaches of Florida.

The awesome location of Ocala makes it very easy for you to drive to nearby cities like Orlando, Tampa, Gainesville, and Leesburg.  What that means for you is that you’re not too far away from the popular tourist destinations of Florida.

For example, the Walt Disney World Resort is just 82.3 miles away.  It will only take you about an hour and 14 minutes to get there.

Legoland Florida Water Park is not too far away as well. It’s 103 miles away from Ocala and it will only take you about two hours to get there.

The Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex is just 129 miles away and it will only take you about two hours to drive there. Of course, these are just three of the famous tourist destinations that you can easily get to from Ocala.

There are a lot more awesome places you can easily visit from Ocala. When family members come and visit, you won’t have a hard time figuring out where to take them.

Since the location of Ocala makes it easy for you to drive to the nearby cities, you can easily get to international airports as well. That will surely make air travel pretty convenient for you as well.

#3.  It’s Known as The Thoroughbred Capital of the World 

The equine industry of Ocala is huge. It’s a 2.62-billion-dollar industry. That has a big economic impact on Ocala.

Ocala is not just the horse capital of the country. No, it’s way bigger than that because it’s the horse capital of the world. Even the Arabian breed has flourished in this area.

The interesting history of Ocala as a thoroughbred capital of the world goes back 80 years when agriculturist, Carl G. Rose, developed the first thoroughbred horse farm in the area.  He had established the flourishing equine industry of Ocala, paving the way to the 1200 horse farms in the area.

To this day, Ocala breeds, trains, and transforms horses into champions. Whether you’re a horse lover or not, the equine industry of Ocala is definitely going to amuse you.

#4.  It’s Known as The Brick City 

Here’s another interesting fact about Ocala. Did you know that it’s also known as Brick City? If you go downtown to their historic town square, you will find most of their buildings in bricks. There’s a good reason why.

Sometime in the late 1800s, a fire hit Ocala. It devastated the whole town as houses and hotels were burned down.  Millions of dollars were lost in the fire but it did not stop the residents from rising again. Building and homes were rebuilt using bricks. To this day, you will still see those buildings and homes standing in the historic town square.

Nowadays, the downtown town square is a commercial area where you can dine and shop. It’s also an entertainment venue where you can watch concerts and live shows.

#5.  It’s one of the Oldest Tourist Attractions in Florida 

While the whole of Florida is popularly known for tourist attractions like Disney World, Sea World, and Legoland; Ocala is considered to be one of the oldest travel destinations of the state. So, way before tourists were flocking to Disney World, Sea World, and Legoland, early Americans were already flocking to see the natural wonders of Ocala.

#6. It’s Home to One of the Largest Artesian Spring Formations

One of the historic tourist attractions of Ocala is the Silver Springs Park. It’s a natural landmark destination and it’s one of the largest Artesian Spring Formations in the country. People have been coming to this area for the past centuries. The wonderful spring waters have mesmerized even early Americans.

A lot of movies have been filmed in Silver Springs Park. The glass-bottom boat rides are worth the experience. The spring waters in this area are just some of the many mesmerizing sights of the area. There are also a lot of shimmering lakes that will take your breath away.

#7.  It’s Home to the Oldest National Forest

The Ocala National Forest covers hundreds of square miles of Central Florida. This is a nationally protected forest. It’s home to various wildlife, thanks to the large pine scrub ecosystems in the area.

There are a lot of cool activities to do here. It’s a safe place to do some camping or simply enjoy and appreciate the wonderful sights in the forest.

Various areas of the forest have abundant water resources like the Alexander Springs, Juniper Springs, and Salt Springs. These areas in the forest make it possible for you to enjoy water activities such as boating, canoeing, skiing, fishing, scuba diving, and snorkeling. Some of the shimmering lakes of Ocala are in this area as well.

The Ocala National Forest definitely adds to the long list of exciting places to see within the area. The thought of having easy access to a magnificent natural wonder adds to the charm of living in Ocala.

#8.  It has an Exciting Art Scene 

You get a lot more than just beautiful horses and breathtaking natural wonders in Ocala. Despite the country-side charm of Ocala, you’d be surprised to see some of the world-renowned art museums in the area.

The Appleton Museum of Art features art and artifacts from all the world. The museum also features traveling exhibitions and is home to some of the finest artworks of Florida artists.

A short distance drive away from Ocala is the Salvador Dali Museum. Here, you can get a fine dose of modern art.  The interesting, let alone the intriguing architectural structure of the museum is one worth seeing as well.

The Salvador Dali Museum is one of the two museums dedicated to the works of the surrealist artist, Salvador Dali. Since Salvador Dali is a Spaniard, it makes sense that the other museum is in Spain.

No one knows if the surrealist artist had lived in Florida but one thing is for sure. His masterpieces have found their way home to the Salvador Dali Museum in St. Petersburg. You will find about 2,400 Dali paintings in the museum.

You don’t need to be an art connoisseur to appreciate the paintings. One look at his unique style of painting will make you want to get to know Dali even more.

The local art scene of Ocala is also one that’s worth seeing. Ocala takes pride in its local artists, putting their works of art on display almost regularly.

The Fine Arts For Ocala or FAFO is a 50-year old community that has been organizing art events in the area. Two of their most popular events are the Symphony Under The Stars and the Ocala Arts Festival. These events are well attended not just by the locals but by folks from all over the country.

There’s also a long list of local museums to satisfy your art cravings.  Take a look at the list below.

  • Marion Cultural Alliance Inc.
  • Tuscawilla Art Park
  • Ocala Cultural Arts
  • Performing Arts Conservatory
  • Ocala Civic Theatre
  • Reilly Arts Center
  • Weber Gallery

#9.  It’s Home to World-Class Medical Facilities

There are about 26 active adult communities in the Ocala area. Needless to say, these active adult communities are some of the best 55+ communities in the country. It’s for that reason that you will also find some of the best medical facilities in the area.

Before its acquisition by the Florida Hospital, the Monroe Regional Medical Center ranked 16 in the top 20 hospitals in Florida. Now bigger and better, the Monroe Regional Medical Center is known as the Florida Hospital Ocala.

Here’s some additional medical facilities in the Ocala area.

  • West Marion Community
  • Ocala Regional Medical Center
  • The Villages Regional Hospital
  • S. HealthWorks Medical Group
  • CareSpot Ocala
  • AdventHealth Ocala

There’s no need for you to worry about your medical needs once you decide to reside in Ocala. As you can see, there is no shortage of world-class facilities in the area.

#10.  It Boasts Unique Tourist Attractions 

There are other unique tourist attractions in Ocala. For example, there’s a museum of drag racing named after the renowned racer, Donald Glenn Garlits.

This museum is a must-see as well. You will not only get to see a vast collection of iconic cars. You will also learn about the life of Donald Glenn Garlits.  Known fondly as Don and Big Daddy, he is the father of drag racing.

If you want to get a glimpse of medieval life, then the Hoggetowne Medieval Faire will certainly spark your curiosity. This is an annual event that takes place sometime at the end of January. It has been an on-going event for the past 30 years. It’s pretty easy to witness this event if you’re coming from Ocala.

These are just 10 of the most interesting facts about Ocala. Truth be told, there are more. Ocala is a charming place to reside in. The all-year-long sunny weather allows you to enjoy a long list of outdoor activities. If you love gardening or have simply thought about it, Ocala is a fantastic place to hone your green thumb.

Of course, the beautiful landscape of Ocala is incomplete without the mere mention of champion golf courses. There are a lot of golf courses in the area, some of which are located inside 55+ communities. This is definitely an awesome place to dedicate your whole life to the sport. if you just want to take up the sport, you won’t have a hard time doing so in the area.

The Petting Zoo Ocala is also a must-see. It’s a wonderful place to take the grandkids when they come to visit. If you want to see amazing wading birds, the Official Florida Flamingo Museum is a great place to visit.

These are just some of the unique tourist attractions of Ocala. You will definitely discover more interesting facts once you make it your home. It’s hard to resist the country-side charm of Ocala.

So, if you’re seriously considering any of the 55+ communities in the area, well, you’re in the right frame of mind. We, here at 55 Next, would love to take you to the various 55+ communities in the Ocala area.  We can help you choose the perfect active adult community to suit your needs. With all our help, you will be able to make that move right away.


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