Explore Marion County Cities
With nearly perfect weather year-round, Marion County offers an endless panorama of natural beauty, historic landmarks, and man-made diversity.
Named an "All America City" in 1995, Ocala is the county seat, and has a present population of 49,439 making it the largest city in the county. Drive down Fort King Street in the Ocala historic district, and you will be impressed by the obvious care taken with the renovation and preservation of the area's homes.
The Ocala Historic District, offers the opportunity to take a walking tour through stately neighborhoods of lovely Victorian homes. Fort King Street was named after the military post of Fort King, the site of which is within city limits. Fort King was built prior to the Second Seminole War of Florida (1835-1842) according to archaeologist Gary Ellis. Three substantive archaeological surveys have been conducted in the vicinity and the findings of these earlier studies led to a new study in 1993-94 identifying two distinct prehistoric components. The investigation of the history of Fort King is still ongoing with plans to offer the public a chance to learn more about life in those times.
Our walking tour will travel from prehistoric finds, to the modern day, within a few blocks. In 1998 the Ocala/Marion County Veterans Memorial Park was dedicated on Fort King near 25th Avenue. The four acre park is just north of the Marion County Governmental complex and has been created to honor veterans from all military conflicts and serves as a gathering place for special celebrations.
Downtown Ocala has been revitalized during the past several years with renovations to the town square, and the beautification of historic buildings surrounding it. The Ocala Down-town Development Commission and a coalition of citizens, property owners, and public officials are working steadily to continue the economic revitalization of downtown. In the past year the Ocala Police Department moved into new quarters on South Pine Street; Ocala Electric Utility built a new Customer Services Office adjacent to City Hall; and the City Auditorium which has served as a focal point for a wide range of community activities. Early in 2007, the Ocala Recreation & Parks Department will move into new quarters off Sanchez Avenue, an attractive addition to the Tuscawilla Park campus.
In addition to the Ocala / Marion County Chamber & Economic Partnership building, a variety of large and small restaurants, Brick City Center for the Arts, shops, financial institutions, and commercial businesses are located around the square or within a short walk. The center of Ocala has come to life in the evening with a number of restaurants, clubs, and special events bringing people back downtown. On Friday and Saturday evenings, horse drawn carriage rides bring a touch of the past to visitors. Distinctive neighborhoods with lovely homes are situated throughout the city in price ranges for every budget. Each spring dogwoods, azaleas, and other colorful flowers invite visitors to drive along the tree-shaded streets.
The town of Belleview, founded in 1884, was named by John P. Pelot, an earlier settler who owned most of the land, after his daughter, Belle. It is the county's second largest city with approximately 3,800 residents, and has enjoyed steady growth through the years since its in-corporation 1885. Located approximately 11 miles south of Ocala on U.S. 441, it is an area with much to offer both residents and businesses. Belleview offers a number of special events and celebrations throughout the year such as its "Founder's Days." Just south of Belleview on US 441 is the "Market of Marion," with 1,000 booths, open on weekends, making it one of the state's largest outdoor flea/farmer markets.
Don't forget to hitch up your boat trailer, take your bathing suit, pack a lunch, and certainly your camera, when you visit this city in southwestern Marion County on U.S. 41. Visitors come from across the country to tube on its beautiful Rainbow River; fish the Withlachoochee River; and visit Rainbow Springs State Park, and Marion County's KP Hole Park. Dunnellon has several outstanding golf courses and retirement communities nearby. Once a wild boomtown created by miners drawn to rich phosphate deposits, Dunnellon remembers its past with a weekend-long springtime celebration called Boomtown Days Festival, which draws thousands of residents and visitors to the town's downtown area. With a population of approximately 2,000, Dunnellon is known for its variety of water-related sports, excellent fishing, and hometown hospitality.
Twenty miles north of Ocala on U.S. 441 near the Alachua County border is the city of McIntosh. This small town (just over 400 residents) calls to the antique lover in all of us and each year attracts thousands of visitors from around Florida to its "1890 Days Festival." A quaint, turn-of-the century village, McIntosh is on the shores of Orange Lake, so named for the grove of wild oranges which sprang, some say, from seeds discarded by Spanish explorers 400 years ago. You can't help but be warmed by the friendliness of the McIntosh residents as you wander its tree-lined streets.
Several towns were developed along the Florida Southern railroad route, including Reddick in 1880. Reddick was named after John M. Reddick, a planter who attracted the railroad with an offer of land. North of Ocala on Route 25A, the city of Reddick is in the northwest corner of the county and is known for its natural beauty and surrounding horse farms. The noticeable growth in other areas of the county seems to have touched Reddick lightly, much to the pleasure of the residents.
For more information about this article, please contact:
Tamara Fleischhaker, 352-629-8051, ext. 102 Tamara@OcalaCEP.com