Ocala is a city located in Northern Florida. As of the 2013 census, its population, estimated by the United States Census Bureau, was 57,468, making it the 45th most populated city in Florida also known as “The horse capital of the world”.
Discover classic Florida charm on an unforgettable retreat, where you can relax all day or take on a spirited adventure. Catch your first fish or gallop through open fields. Search through antique treasures and stroll along storied streets. Soar sky-high on a zipline, flying up amidst the treetops or float downriver in the clear water of our many famous springs. It’s the perfect place for a family vacation, a romantic getaway for two or buying a property.
Archeological investigation has revealed that the area was inhabited by varying cultures of indigenous peoples from as early as 6500 B.C., and there were two lengthy periods of occupation. The second lasted through 500 A.D. In early historic times, the Timucua inhabited the area.
Ocala is located near what is thought to have been the site of Ocale or Ocali, a major Timucua village and chiefdom recorded in the 16th century. The modern city takes its name from the historical village, the name of which is believed to mean “Big Hammock” in the Timucua language.
The nearby community of Silver Springs developed around the Silver Springs, a group of artesian springs on the Silver River. In the 19th century, this site became Florida’s first tourist destination. Today well known for glass bottom boat tours of the area, Silver Springs is owned by the state of Florida and incorporated into Silver Springs State Park in 2013. Other nearby natural attractions include the Ocala National Forest and the Florida Trail. Manmade local attractions includeWild Waters water park; the western-themed Six Gun Territory operated in the area until 1984. In 2007, Ocala/Marion County was officially named the “Horse Capital of the World™,” a testament to the County’s unique involvement in all things equestrian and its record of producing some of the finest champions in the sport. With a beautiful, mild climate all year long and soil rich with limestone calcium for strong bones, Ocala/Marion County is home to more horses than anywhere else in the country.
In the last decades of the twentieth century, the greater Ocala area had one of the highest growth rates in the country for a city its size. The population of Marion County in 2000 was more than 250,000, up from under 100,000 in 1975.
Many historic homes are preserved in Ocala’s large residential Historic District, designated in 1984. East Fort King Street features many excellent examples ofVictorian architecture. Ocala structures listed on the National Register of Historic Places include the Coca Cola Building, the E. C. Smith House, East Hall, the Marion Hotel, Mount Zion A.M.E. Church, the Ritz Historic Inn, and Union Train Station.
The original Fort King site was designated as a National Historic Landmark in 2004.
Ocala has two distinct seasons: the dry season (October–May) and the wet season (June–September). During the dry season, there is almost uninterrupted sunshine with very little rainfall. In January, the morning low temperatures are often in the 30s and 40s, but the cloudless sunny weather typically warms the dry air up to near 70 by the afternoon. During the wet season, afternoon thunderstorms are a daily occurrence. These storms are often severe (unofficially, Ocala is known to have more cloud-to-ground lightning per square mile than any other city in the world). The typical morning low temperatures during the wet season are in the 70’s and typical daytime high temperatures are in the 90s. Due to the city being relatively far away from the moderating influence of the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico, Ocala’s summertime temperatures are often the highest in the state while winter temperatures are often the lowest compared to other cities on the peninsula.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 38.63 square miles (100.1 km2), all land. The surrounding farms are famous for theirthoroughbred horses, in terrain similar to Kentucky bluegrass. Ocala is also known for nearby Silver Springs, Florida, site of one of the largest artesian spring formations in the world and Silver Springs Nature Theme Park, one of the earliest tourist attractions in Florida.
The 110-mile (180 km) long Ocklawaha River flows north from Central Florida until it joins the St. Johns River near Palatka, Florida.
Marion County is also home to the Ocala National Forest which was established in 1908 and is now the second largest national forest in the state. The Florida Trail, also known as the Florida National Scenic Trail, cuts through Ocala National Forest. Silver Springs State Park was formed as Silver River State Park in 1987, out of land the state purchased around the Silver Springs attraction to spare it from development. The state took over Silver Springs itself in 1993 and incorporated it into the park in 2013.