A Local Guide: 13 Things to do in Ocala, FL

A Local Guide: 13 Things to do in Ocala, FL

A Local Guide: 13 Things to do in Ocala, FL

Central Florida is horse country (and it's also the location of our fourth brand shop). We’ve put together a local guide to help you plan your next visit in Ocala.


The central Florida city of Ocala is known for being horse country, so it was only fitting we opened our fourth Ariat brand shop there.

After spending time exploring the area, one thing about Ocala is certain -- the exhilaration doesn’t have to end once you leave the arena or show grounds. We wanted some local insight on what to do in Ocala-Marion County, so we met up with the team from Ocala Style and Ocala Gazette to discover everything Ocala has to offer.

Together, we’ve put together a local guide of things to do in Ocala.

A Local Guide: 13 Things to do in Ocala, FL

A Horse-Lover’s Shopping Paradise

Opened earlier this year, the World Equestrian Center (WEC) offers previously unimaginable options and opportunities for the equine community. The mega-complex that not only features the 8,000-seat Hunterland Stadium, four climate-controlled indoor rings and 22 outdoor rings for equine events, can also accommodate concerts and other large events. With 132,300 square feet of indoor space, you can do your paces shopping for the greater part of an afternoon at WEC’s retail outlets.

A Local Guide: 13 Things to do in Ocala, FL
The World Equestrian Center in Ocala, Fla.

Start your shopping spree off at the female-owned Farm House, now with two locations on the WEC premises. It’s the only retailer in the area to carry a curated selection of our new English countryside collection.

For a refined collection of English apparel and footwear, head to Tenney’s Custom Saddlery, which has outfitted horses and equestrians since 1993, specifically catering to hunter/jumpers, dressage, and the equestrian lifestyle.

The Ariat brand shop, also at WEC, offers a wide range of performance footwear, apparel, and accessories for equestrians as well as casual wear for the entire family (including pets). Ariat was named after Secretariat, the legendary racehorse, for his athleticism, heart, and non-stop competitive spirit.

A Local Guide: 13 Things to do in Ocala, FL
Ariat’s brand shop located in WEC

Head northeast a mile or two for a more old-school shopping experience. Also female-owned, The Tack Shack of Ocala can help you prepare for dressage and other events, or just for riding the area’s many scenic trails. Owned by Marti Haught, the Tack Shack has served the community and beyond for 30 years, employing expert craftsmen who have outfitted Secretariat and other notable thoroughbreds through the years. Wall-to-wall saddles, the whir of sewing machines and the distinctive aroma of leather add to the authenticity of the experience. Racing, English and Western tack are available, as well as custom embroidery, tack repair, blanket wash and repair.

A Local Guide: 13 Things to do in Ocala, FL
(Left to Right) The Tack Shack of Ocala exterior, a Tack Shack employee crafting a custom saddle, Ariat English apparel on display

A Celebration of All Things Equine

Enjoy historic equestrian art and more at The Appleton Museum of Art. The Appleton’s equine art collection spans more than 3,000 years of horse history and originated from the private collection of the museum’s namesake, Arthur Appleton, and wife Martha O’Driscoll. The couple established Bridlewood Farm in the 1970s and the works in their collection range from Eurasian Steppe Bronze Age horse-bridle bits to contemporary works.

The stately museum also wows visitors with compelling and cutting-edge touring exhibitions. The Appleton’s programming includes book clubs, artist talks and a robust education program. After taking in more than 24,000 objects and artifacts, let it all sink in while strolling the Appleton’s idyllic outdoor sculpture walk and garden. Admission is free the first Saturday of the month.

A Local Guide: 13 Things to do in Ocala, FL
The Appleton Museum of Art

For family fun, round up your loved ones for the Grandview Clydesdales Farm Tours. The two-hour experience puts you up close with one of the world’s most majestic and distinctive breeds. During the tour, participants learn about distinctive Clydesdale features such as feathering (the hair around the hooves and ankles of the horse) during a guided tour of the show and breeding barns. The award-winning farm’s daily operations can be observed during the tour, which might include anything from seeing ultrasounds on mares to observing insemination procedures. The most popular part of the tour, seeing the baby Clydesdales, promises a cuteness overload visitors of any age will enjoy.

Downtown Ocala: Where Historic Charm Meets Contemporary Freshness

Downtown Ocala offers a perfect blend of historic charm and contemporary freshness. An old-fashioned town square serves as backdrop for First Friday Art Walks and other events.

Plan a date night at the picturesque Ivy On The Square, a rustic-chic bistro that serves elevated southern comfort food in a 128-year-old building that was among the first brick and iron buildings built downtown after a fire ravaged the community 135 years ago. Follow dinner with cocktails in the adjacent speakeasy or catch a movie at the vintage Marion Theater, built in 1941, situated right across the brick-paved road.

The downtown area brims with eclectic dining, art, retail and entertainment options. With a retro, tiki-like vibe and kitschy decor, the Tipsy Skipper offers modern mixology and a buzzy atmosphere for a fun night out.

For a casual but refined lunch spot or as a destination for gourmet goodies, Stella’s Modern Pantry is a slice of foodie heaven. For local oenophiles, the charming shop is a favorite destination for wine in an array of vintages and varietals.

Explore the Outdoors

For more old-fashioned splendor and some scenic horseback riding trails, head east on State Road 40 to one of Florida’s original theme parks, Silver Springs State Park. Originally built as a roadside attraction in 1878, the tranquil park offers nature trails, boardwalks and sidewalks that allow you to meander through the beautiful botanical gardens.

A Local Guide: 13 Things to do in Ocala, FL
A Glass Bottom Boat at Silver Springs State Park

The park’s biggest claim to fame is its World Famous Glass-Bottom Boats. While on your tour, you can learn about the movies and TV shows that were filmed there, why rhesus monkeys roam the property and how archaeologists discovered mammoth bones, which are now on display in the Silver River Museum and Environmental Education Center, located south of the main entrance.

Saddle up for a fun-filled trip to Ocala, and don’t forget to tag us in your adventures with #ariatEQ or #myAriat.