A version of this article originally appeared in the February 2020 Ocala Magazine.
Stumped? Here’s some creative inspiration to surprise your special someone with a sweet something.
February is for lovers. This decade, elevate your Valentine’s Day plans and get her what she really wants. Whether it’s a designer bag or an afternoon exploring downtown, Ocala has you covered.
Uncover a vast spectrum of cooking styles in Ocala’s historic downtown. Brick City Food Tours visit five local tasting locations in the downtown neighborhood. Between samples, your informative guides will share their experiences of local customs, historic stories and specialty shops. This walking tour is ideal for lovers eager to discover the culinary secrets and traditions that compose the horse capital of the world — book on Airbnb Experiences.
Wine Making Class
The Corkscrew Winery now offers swine-making classes, which turns the casual wine lover into a chemist. Book a private class and craft your favorite style or join a group of other wine connoisseurs by booking on Groupon.com.
Become the dancers you always wanted to be. Move in sync during a dance class with Ocala’s Arthur Murray Dance Centers, which specializes in teaching couples how to dance. Located in downtown Ocala, your first dance lesson is free.
All it takes is to step into one of these elegant boutiques and any shopper will land on the perfect, fashionable gift. Shannon Roth Collection features Julie Vos and Theia jewelry, Current Air and Mod Ref clothing, and home goods designed by the talened Jan Barboglio. Steps away, Agapanthus boasts Pandora jewelry gift sets, Longchamp handbags and sought-after candles like Voluspa and the Capri Blue Volcano.
Savor the Cook
Give the gift of zest and bring home the cooking of chef Albert Barrett. The woman who savors flavors will love anything from Stella’s Modern Pantry – handcrafted chocolates, Caymus wine, specialty cheese, caviar spread and more.
Gallery on Magnolia is home to hand-crafted “spirit tiles.” Each tile begins with wood and is wrapped with copper and a glass infusion then fired to create a work of art. Each displays a glistening scene paired with a synonymous quote, and the E.E. Cummings “I care your heart with me” tile is perfect for a special woman.
Ocala’s art scene is booming, and art enthusiasts are sure to love hand-selected pieces. Check out the First Friday Art Walk on February 7 to explore Ocala’s native art scene. Art devotees will love the innovative work of Ocala’s local artists.
Silver Springs State Park is a natural wonder right here in Ocala. Spend the day on the water taking in the springs by paddleboard, canoe, kayak or glass-bottom boat. It’s perfect for the couples who loves to get outdoors, and as an added bonus: finish the day sharing an ice cream cone at Paradise Treats.
Commemorate Your Wedding
The creative team at Marley Mae Market & Paperie is known for thinking outside the box. They’re bringing their A game for Valentine’s Day with custom pieces to commemorate your wedding day. Choose from a custom print of you wedding vows or first dance song lyrics and remind your lady of the first day of the rest of your lives.
A Night at the Theater
What’s more romantic than a night at the ballet? The Reilly Arts Center hosts Dance Alive National Ballet on February 21 as they present “Loveland.” This ballet is inspired by the pull of the moon, a love story that blends love, romance and passion.
Ocala is host to an award-winning museum, home to approximately 18,000 objects in its permanent collection and features temporary traveling exhibits. At the Appleton Museum of Art, take in artwork from Europe, the Americas, Asia, Africa and more as you cozy up to your partner.
Horse Capital of the World
What could be more fitting for a romantic day out than horseback riding in the horse capital of the world? Book a private ride or join a group and tap into your adventurous side with Cactus Jack’s Trail Rides. We hear some of the best bonding experiences come from experiences that test your comfort zone.
Ocala is home to a wide variety of ways to celebrate Valentine’s Day whether your partner prefers gifts or quality time. Regardless of how you celebrate, what matters most is who you share it with.
Photos by Brittany Bishop Photography.