About Marion County

Ocala (Marion County) is located in north central Florida approximately 67 miles northwest of Orlando and approximately 40 miles east of the Gulf of Mexico.

Ocala is bordered to the south by the city of Belleview, to the west is the city of Dunnellon, and to the north are the cities of McIntosh and Reddick. The climate for Ocala is sub-tropical. The rich grazing, rolling hills, and year round pastures not available in other states, contributed to the development of the Thoroughbred industry in Marion County. The first Thoroughbred farm, "Rosemere", was established in 1935. In 1956, an unknown three year old named "Needles" won the Kentucky Derby and the Belmont Stakes, and Marion County became a focus for the racing world. Marion County boasts over 1,000 farms and training centers including approximately 450 Thoroughbred farms, and is home to nearly 50 different horse breeds. In 1999, Ocala/Marion County was recognized by the U.S. Department of Agriculture census as the "Horse Capital of the World" and as having more horses and ponies than any other county in the nation.

Golfers may choose from 15 public, private and semi-private Marion County golf courses. One of the courses open to the public is Golden Ocala Golf & Country Club on US Highway 27, just west of I-75. What makes this course talked about in golfing circles are the eight special holes that have been designed to duplicate famous holes from Scotland's St. Andrews course, and the Masters Course in Augusta, Georgia.

Nearly three-quarters of the Ocala National Forest is in Marion County.

The Forest offers 383,000 acres of unique ecological sites, trails, natural springs. Hundreds of camping sites throughout the forest offer everything from full-service campgrounds to more rustic sites. The National Forest also has trails for horseback riding and is part of the Florida National Scenic Trail. Parks include Salt Springs and Salt Springs Trail, Fore Lake Recreational Area, Juniper Springs, Silver Glen Springs, and the Mill Dam Recreation Area. Fore Lake Recreation Area is a day use and camping area that is open year-round. A 250-foot sandy beach is adjacent to the 77-acre Fore Lake. Opportunities for fishing, boating, swimming and other water sports abound in a region covered by hundreds of fresh-water springs, lakes and the Silver, Rainbow, Ocklawaha, and Withlacoochee Rivers. Canoeing and kayaking the Juniper Run at Juniper Springs is a fun-filled trip for the entire family, with getting back made easy since the boats and their passengers are ferried back to their cars in the parking lot at the end of their day. The pure, clean waters of springs and spring-fed lakes and rivers are a dream come true for folks enjoying snorkeling and diving. Just outside of Ocklawaha on Lake Weir is the 560 acre Carney Island Park which offers hiking, biking, swimming, picnicking and canoeing. Area lakes such as Orange, Jumper, George, Lake Weir and the Withlacoochee River are unequaled for bass fishing which is just one of the more than 100 species of fish to be found in the region's waterways.

Ocala is at the hub of the system of federal and state highways that crisscross the county. The area provides easy access to Interstate 75 for north/south travel, to U.S. highways 27, 301, and 441, and State Roads 484, 475, 464, 40, and 200, which connect Ocala with points east to the Atlantic and west to the Gulf of Mexico