UPDATE TO BELOW: Hi, I have gotten the lodging reservation taken care of, etc and will now only be going to the Ocala area...., but would just like some more ideas for restaurants...both casual and upscale/bistro. I am not too into chains unless there is nothing else, so, anything original and not-to-miss in the Ocala area?
I am planning a trip to Florida in January..first south to Aventura, then I would like to get up to the Ocala area. One of my must-do's is a visit to Alachua to visit a farm there, but I would also like to poke around and see the Ocala area horse scene. I am looking for some tips on where to stay (nice, upscale, if possible), where to eat, and some routes for horse farm viewing, events, etc. I am a (pleasure) Dressage rider, former H/J rider, have an event horse, a Dressage/Jumper, and also enjoy the TB's....so a good mix of those to experience while I am there is what I would like.
Can anybody help?!?!
Last edited by lindasp62; Dec. 10, 2008 at 02:16 PM.
I can give lots o' food advice esp in the Alachua area. Conestogas is good in downtown Alachua (and owned by a "horse lady" and her husband). I also like the Great Outdoors and Floyds Diner in High Springs (which is not far from Alachua).
If you are into bed and breakfast type places there is a charming Victorian in downtown Gainesville (about 1/2 way between Alachua and Ocala) called the Sweet Water Branch Inn. It is my parent's prefered place to stay when they come to town. They have a GREAT hot breakfast every morning and there are always very interesting people to chat with. My parents love the cottages (vs a room in the main house). I am sure there are similar places in Ocala, I am not all that familiar with them. http://www.sweetwaterinn.com/default/default.asp
If you have the chance I would go by OBS (Ocala Breeders Sales). Depending on when you will be here there might be some horses in training (TB race). Jan 6-9 there is the Winter Mixed Sale. Which is always interesting to watch for a little while. There is also a tack shop (Tack Shack of Ocala) right next door so it could a double duty trip. Both are next to the Airport. http://www.obssales.com/
If I'm still here at that time I live two minutes from Aventura! I don't know how long you will be there but I would suggest visiting Gulfstream. VERY nice and some exciting racing.....if you like that part? HAHA
Definatly go to OBS. Very nice place and very fun. Other than that I don't know the area too well just go up there for visits every once in a while.
Have fun though!! It's beautiful country up there!!!
Eyesontheground-The farm I will be visiting is Retirement Home For Horses @ Millcreek Farm. Probably you know it. I will definitely eat at one of your recommended places. The B&B looks cute. What can you tell me about Micanopy? Looks like a cute place to visit/stay also. That list of shows is a big help!!
Gallop Girl; I will be in Aventura the weekend of the Sunshine Millions at Guflstream, you actually responded to my post in the racing forum about seating. I have some calls in to Gulfstream, but nobody has called me back yet. I'd love to be able to get some good seating/dining for this race day...is it best to get in Ten Palms Restaurant? Or the Chinese place? Which is better track/paddock viewing? I don't care about the gambling...just the ponies!!
I love the shopping in Micanopy. There is a used bookstore (only open random hours), a cool stained glass gallery, two very fun gifty/housewares type shops (one named The Shop and the other one next to the bookstore), and some random antique shops. They also have a GREAT pizza place on 441 named Blue Highway. I have seen some bed and breakfast type places in Micanopy but I am not sure of any names, etc and I can not give a recommendation. I know some really nice private farms between there and Ocala, in the Reddick area, but I do not know if they are open to visitors.
Neither Alachua or Micanopy (or High Springs for that matter) are all that big...all three have one main drag of shopping. So you could visit the farm in the morning, have lunch in Alachua or Micanopy, shop in Micanopy in the afternoon, pick a bed and breakfast place in Micanopy or closer to Ocala to stay overnight, and then spend the next day or two or three shopping for horsie stuff in Ocala/going to horse shows/visiting farms of every variety/driving around drooling. Maybe I should be a trip planner for horsie getaways! This is starting to sound like fun!!
There are stars in the Southern sky and if ever you decide you should go there is a taste of time sweetened honey.
Land of palms, rattlesnakes, sand and fields of beautiful Tbs
Definitely have lunch at Blue Highway in Micanopy. The Herlong Mansion is a lovely B & B in Micanopy and O'Briskey's Books may still be there or in Macintosh, another cute small town just south on 441.
A pretty drive, past some nice farms, from Micanopy to Ocala: 441 south to Orange Lake, West on 318 to 329, south on 329 to 225A, south on 225A to Highway 27 in Ocala. Horse and Hounds Restuarant (good place for dinner!) and Winning Edge/123 Tack are on the SE corner of intersection.
To get from this intersection to OBS, go south on 27 to first traffic signal, turn right (south again), cross 40 and Tack Shack then OBS are on the left. To get from Horse and Hound intersection to HITS, go north on 27 to Post Time.
Check out the Florida Horse Park website for activities during your visit. They have something almost every weekend during the winter. Have fun.
Eat: downtown Ocala
The Tin Cup pub on Sunday evenings-usually full of horse people during the show season (outside square)
Winning Edge Tack Shop, Horsin' Around or Tack Shack...there are a good handful of tack shops all along that road. Trailer dealerships galore too, if you're interested.
Farms-across from Winning Edge is a small gas station, if you're looking directly at the gas station from the tack store's parking lot, left is the road to HITS and straight towards/beside the gas station is a GREAT little horsey farm road. I used to work for the Russells, Triple R Farm, the third farm down that road, and just driving down that road is a pleasure! Beautiful farms, and when you get to Gilbert's Hardware, turn left to see some MASSIVE thoroughbred farms. Like, landscaped, iron gates, etc. absolutely gorgeous. Turn right and it takes you past smaller farms and to the interstate. Go straight and you see more beautiful thoroughbred farms. But the left turn is my recommended direction. lol
Hmm...I'll think of more things. OOH! There is a great little pizza joint in the Publix shopping center-AWESOME white pizza.
No place like Ocala. Ditto the OBS and their track, and if you drive down airport road further you can see Peterson and Smith, that's a pretty cool hospital to 'tour' if they'll let you. I was always there for my horses so I didn't always enjoy the 'tour' but it is a very neat place. Classic Ocala, I think.
I loved the summer sales at OBS. I like seeing the 90k and above horses trotting in the viewing lane before going into auction. Hearing the bids, it just makes you wonder how much $$$ goes through that place in a day! Craziness.
Its also cool to stroll the stable yards and look at all the stock. Grooms always volunteer to show them, but I'm never buying, so always politely decline. Sometimes they're bored and bring them out anyway.
Have fun! I'm hoping to visit everybody down there this Christmas. I think I'll have a week or so, and I so hope I can take a drive down to see my favorite city! Enjoy yourself!
I went to high school at Trinity Catholic-right across the road is the National Stud...that's pretty cool. Nice horse farms around the stud/school too, btw.
Check out sunshine state sporthorse association, not exactly sure of the website but you can google it or ask about it on sporthorse breeders forum. Masu Hammacher (sp?) has Hammacher sporthorses in Micanopy, breeds for eventing I believe(Selle Francias (? sp?), I'm sure she would be happy to have you stop over and see her horses, she stands the stallion Robin Hood. Also check out Pennock Point in Reddick. Also, Home Again Farm (Mary Lou Winn posts here as Home Again Farm also) is in Waldo and she breeds to die for Hannoverian dressage horses. Judy Yancey is in Ocala also, sporthorses and she breeds Kieger mustangs. You should post this on sporthorse breeders forum also, there's lots of sporthorse breeders in Ocala. If you're in the Tampa area, you can stop by and see all my kids (hanoverian and Oldenburg sporthorses), send me a PM and I'll give you my phone number. steph
"Do" lunch at the Ivy House off 27 in Williston...I have never had a bad meal there...get the "special" whatever it is ...even if you think you wont like it ...you will!!! Everyone else has great ideas! Also there is a store called The Paddock?? in the town of Ocala proper with cool horsie stuff both old and new...like a horsie garage sale...There are horse related things to do everywhere in and around Ocala!
The thing about smart people, is they look like crazy people, to dumb people.
Eyesontheground-The farm I will be visiting is Retirement Home For Horses @ Millcreek Farm. Probably you know it. I will definitely eat at one of your recommended places. The B&B looks cute. What can you tell me about Micanopy? Looks like a cute place to visit/stay also. Thanks all~!
Micanopy is the home of Valhalla Farm - lots of eventing and dressage take place there - recognized and unreocgnized shows plus TONS of horses from babies on up to go look at (or buy). Jean usually has some very good trainers come to the farm from Europe to work with her.
Three Sisters Inn B & B in Ocala - I hear it's haunted too, so double the fun!
Ritz Hotel on SS Blvd, or better yet the Hilton on 200. The Hilton has a resident horse.
Just down the road is the new Heathbrook Shopping Center - Macy's Dillards, and Old Navy among others, MIMI's Cafe is the current hotspot for food. Bonefish grille is nearby.
There are also carriage tours of ocala. Try Ocalacarriage.com I'm not sure if I have that right, so try a search if it doesn't work.
valhalla is up in lake city area. have known jean for years.
ocala has so much for you to do. if you are here, try to go to obs sale in jan. really fun to watch all the horses. it will be a mixed sale, so horses of all ages, mares, foals, yearling,weanling, and of course the in foal mares. and always, a couple will give birth at the sale and go to the ring with newborn along side(so cute). there are several farms that are open for tours, but not quite sure who to contact about that. i do know the ocala carriage ride does a farm tour on their route, so do give them a call. i have a small farm just down hwy 27 from the hits showgrounds. always busy over there and plenty of farms closeby, and maybe some of the shops for the show might be open, good shopping there too. and of course, tack shack,winning edge, ect....there will also be a 3 day event in altoona at rocking horse in jan. about an hour away, but well worth the trip.jan. 3rd is a one day schooling show there. there is a 3day at the ocala horse park. jan. 11-13th. very fun, with great shopping as well. then a 2 day event back at rocking horse on jan. 26-27th. let me know if i can help you out. and do eat at the ivy house in williston, i live in williston and it is unbelievable.
You'll love Ocala. Horsin'Around is closed (the owner retired toother interests) but there are still some good tack shops - Winning Edge, and Tack Shack on 60th (near OBS).
I'll second SKY for dinner. Just be sure everyone doesn't order an appetizer and a meal. Everything is very big, enough to share (and it is encouraged). And the Blue Highway on 441 near Micanopy is a must.
Check the horsepark schedule. Some big stuff going on over there.
A bit south of Ocala, in the Villages, is the Austin Carriage Museum. Largest collection of carriages in the US. Amazing, and a beautiful place, too. There are sometimes driving events out there.
You can get a tour of some of the TB farms. Maybe check with the Chamber of Commerce for that, or the Farm Manager's Association (their office is also out next to Winning Edge).
Of course, HITS will probably be going on, or the pre-HITS shows.
If youve never ridden a Paso, Young's Paso Finos rents them for trail rides. Or jsut go and hike the Greenways, it's beautiful.