• Eliza Chang

5 Valentine’s Day Trips That Won’t Break the Bank

This year, Valentine’s Day falls on a Sunday. Better yet, it’s the Sunday of President’s Day Weekend. After a long 2020, you and your loved one deserve to treat yourselves, and Ocala is the perfect place to spend that quality time together.

Whether you’re looking for a romantic night out, outdoor adventure, or something more out of the box, Ocala has an option for every couples’ tastes. Best of all, you can enjoy an amazing weekend in Ocala without breaking the bank.

We’ve curated five ideas for spending Valentine’s Day weekend in Ocala—read on to start planning your sunny Florida getaway today! And while you’re at it, be sure to book one of the newly renovated rooms with us at the Equus Inn—more on that below, as well!

1. Horse Around in the Horse Capital

No trip to the Horse Capital of the World is complete without a dose of equestrian culture, and there is plenty to experience over Valentine’s Day weekend in Ocala.

What better way to kick-off a romantic Valentine’s getaway than a private carriage ride in horse country? Sit back, relax, and enjoy a scenic ride with Horse Country Carriage Company, located on beautiful Kimberden Farm in the heart of Ocala’s countryside. You’ll feel like you’re at your own private resort while winding through their lush grounds and observing horses roaming the pastures, all while snuggling up with someone special. Keep that feeling alive after the journey is over with a wine and cheese picnic on the patio, and you may even catch the University of Florida equestrian team in action (they practice here!).

Attending an equestrian event is a must if you want the full Ocala experience during your stay. Lucky for you, the newly-opened World Equestrian Center is hosting its Winter Spectacular #6 from February 10-14, which is open to the public and free of charge. Featuring multiple hunter and jumper events, couples are sure to enjoy a rousing day watching the highest levels of equestrian competition. In between sessions, surprise your partner with a visit to the shopping and dining center to select something special from the dozens of carefully selected vendors on-site. And a Valentine’s Day visit to the World Equestrian Center would not be complete without something sweet from Miss Tilly’s Lollipops, a one-of-a-kind confectionary store offering chocolates, ice cream, fudge, and so much more.

Prefer to take the reins yourself? Head on over to Cactus Jack’s Trail Rides for guided riding through the picturesque Cross Florida Greenway, a 110-mile corridor offering a wide variety of trails. Horseback riding is one of the best ways to experience Ocala’s natural habitat, and Cactus Jack’s is a great, affordable option for riders of all levels.

2. The Classic Dinner & a Movie—With a Twist

With its vibrant culinary scene and unique drive-in movie theater, a traditional Valentine’s date night is anything but ordinary in Ocala.

Not only does the Ocala Drive-In boast the largest screen in the state of Florida, but it’s also the most COVID-friendly way to catch a flick with your Valentine this year! At the Drive-In,

enjoying a feature film is as easy as putting the car into park, turning on the radio, and leaning back. For Valentine’s Day, the Drive-In is offering specials on both Saturday and Sunday, which includes two movies and a full-service dinner—either delivered to your car or served socially-distanced on their patio. While making your reservation (they’re required), don’t forget to submit a special message for your Valentine to be displayed on the big screen—the ultimate public display of affection!

If you’re looking for a little more of a refined dining experience this Valentine’s Day, head into historic downtown Ocala before showtime at the Drive-In. There is no shortage of options surrounding the Square or down Magnolia Avenue, but let us help you narrow it down to a few of the best options, that also happen to be offering Valentine’s specials this year.

Voted the “Most Romantic Experience” by Ocala Magazine in 2020, Ivy on the Square is sure to deliver a memorable date night experience. At Ivy on the Square, you’ll enjoy live music and a customized Valentine’s Day menu featuring upscale Southern comfort food. Or, save on the airfare to Paris this year and book a table at La Cuisine instead. Here, you’ll experience the classic charm of a French bistro, while sampling their delicious 4-course tasting menu.

3. Take a Walk on the Wild Side

If you’re spending February in Florida, you have to take advantage of the warmer weather and spend some time outside! While Ocala offers a variety of opportunities for outdoor fun, Silver Springs State Park is your best bet for special Valentine’s Day activities with your loved one, with over 5,000 acres available to explore. Bring a picnic lunch to enjoy by the beautiful springs, before hitting the river for a kayak or canoe ride, or heading out on the 14 miles of multi-use trails for a hike or bike ride.

And you can’t visit Silver Springs State Park with your Valentine without taking a ride on their famous glass-bottom boats. Beneath the boat, it’s easy to observe Ocala’s wildlife and natural vegetation within the crystal clear spring water, which can include everything from fish and turtles to alligators and manatees. Tours are available every 30 minutes and currently operating at limited capacity due to COVID-19.

4. Celebrate with Your Galentine’s

Single this year? Don’t count Ocala out—it’s a great place to visit for a Galentine’s getaway, too!

Sign of Historic Downtown Square in Ocala FL
Downtown Square Ocala

Head over to historic downtown Ocala with your single ladies for an action-packed day of wandering the Square and surrounding streets, sampling local cuisines, sipping on local craft beers, uncovering unique finds at independent boutiques and quirky thrift stores, and taking in some culture at art galleries and the Tuscawilla Park sculpture garden.

On Saturday, make sure to stop by the Farmer’s Market south of the Square for locally-grown produce and handmade crafts, and finish off the day with live music and more shopping at Paddock Mall’s Sip N’ Shop!

5. Settle In at the Equus Inn

The first step in planning a memorable Valentine’s weekend is booking the perfect hotel room. While in Ocala, look no further than the Equus Inn for affordable luxury accommodations that are sure to wow your Valentine.

With newly renovated rooms featuring top-of-the-line amenities and modern equine decor, a room at the Equus Inn is the ideal home-base for you and your sweetheart this Valentine’s Day. So don’t delay, book your room with us today and start daydreaming about a long weekend in Ocala with your special someone!

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