Historic Downtown Ocala offers an appealing small city vibe, perfectly offset by the bucolic views of Marion County’s horse country surrounding the city. What better way to top off a gorgeous fall day than a trip into the Historic District to grab a meal and to quench your thirst. With the subtle shift in temperature towards fall, we are all reminded that the change in season is nearly upon us and it’s time to go downtown!
As realtors, we make it our mission to stay on top of the exciting changes coming to our region. The downtown historic district has enjoyed progress in the form of revitalization projects and new business openings, which we will highlight in this article. Many thanks to Jessica Marr, the Executive Director at Ocala Main Street, for keeping our community updated on current events in our city. Ocala Main Street is on a mission to “create a thriving, unique, and livable downtown that enriches the community, embraces history, celebrates the arts and promotes quality events to instill a sense of place in our community.”
Let’s start with some of Ocala Main Street’s recommendations for new dining options. Big Hammock Brewery has opened on 103 SE 1st Ave near the square, and their initial restaurant reviews are fantastic! This new craft brewery and pub is already being hailed by customers for it’s rotating selection of beers and a twist on the regular pub fare by offering Asian fusion sandwiches, salads, and imaginative rise or ramen bowls. The following review, one of many 5* reviews on yelp, is a good representation of feedback from happy customer:
“Visiting the area from Melbourne and saw this place had great reviews and it did not dissapoint. Great ambiance and decor inside. Very bright space. Service was fantastic. We got gyoza appetizer and I got vegetarian ramen and everything tasted amazing! If I lived in Ocala I would definitely frequent this place.”
You’ll also want to keep your eyes peeled for the grand opening of Bank Street Patio Bar, which is right around the corner on 120 SE Fort King Street. More info coming soon.
The Arts in Downtown Ocala!
A continued focus on arts and culture adds to the appeal of living in our region. Over the summer the Reilly Arts Center announced its expansion plans to double in size with a new black box theater, a new entrance and larger lobby, catering kitchen for events and so much more. The Reilly is expecting to break ground on the project sometime this winter.
In addition to this great news, the city of Ocala is committing to the arts by forming a committee to develop a 10 year strategic plan. They are in the first phase of planning, with the city hiring an outside consulting firm to analyze and to complete a Community Cultural Arts Master Plan. Planning efforts were administered through the City’s Recreation and Parks Department in partnership with the Marion Cultural Alliance (MCA) and the Ocala Municipal Arts Commission (OMAC).
“Cultural Arts are part of what make our community uniquely Ocala. In particular, when the arts are combined with some of our other defining aspects (downtown, the Horse Capital, and the Springs), it helps to reflect and to amplify the stories, views, and values of our community.” -Kevin Sheilley, President and CEO – Ocala/Marion County Chamber & Economic Partnership
A great resource for news on upcoming events featuring music, entertainment, arts and cultural activities, as well as the top restaurants reviews and bars in downtown Ocala, is Feel Downtown Ocala‘s website and event calendar. They’ve also launched a new App to help guide you around our city – or for up to the minute info on events, please follow them on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram!
We at Ocala Horse Properties are ecstatic that our city has placed a priority on the arts in our region. While our real estate clientele is drawn to Ocala for the beauty of our horse country, the improvements in our city add another dimension to the charm of Marion County.
The Team at Ocala Horse Properties hopes to see you out on the town in the near future!