Ah, romance. It might surprise you that this true crime loving feminist is a sucker for a good chick flick but, alas, I’m multifaceted. Growing up I lived for the in depth story lines I’d create for my Barbie dolls and doodled my crushes’ names in my notebook at school. I have a running list of names I’d like to name my children (I should be more embarrassed than I am to admit it’s three pages long), and I’m a big fan of how Kait and Ken sound together.
When my momma shared her love of Julia Roberts with me, something inside me just related with her characters. She was quirky, beautiful, quick witted and introspective. As a young woman, her films bridged the gap of romance between Beauty and the Beast to Sleeping with the Enemy. Maybe that’s why all these years later I never tire of watching the same Julia movies over and over – especially in February.
I know Valentine’s Day is a holiday created by Hallmark but hear me out: what’s wrong with taking an extra day to make sure the people you love are celebrated? Whether you’re celebrating with your lover, your girlfriends, or your family, a Julia Roberts movie is the perfect flick to bring your night full circle. To prove my point she’s the universal choice for movie night: even my husband loves Eat Pray Love!
What are your favorite movies to watch on Valentine’s Day? I’d love to hear your recs!
Brick City Food Tours is an idea that was born out of a search on Airbnb on a weekday afternoon. I was feeling uninspired and dreaming of the day I found *the* thing that would light my fire.
I searched Airbnb Experiences, curious about what adventures or classes were offered in Ocala. It honestly surprised me when I saw there wasn’t much available. That’s when it hit me; my husband, Kendrick, and I went on a food tour in Chicago before we moved back to Ocala and absolutely loved it.
Why couldn’t there be one in Ocala? The economy is growing, families are moving here and there are new restaurants popping up all over downtown. Residents and guests are excited about seeing Ocala gain businesses similar to other Florida hubs like Orlando or Tampa. In short, there’s never been a better time to start.
I’ve lived in Ocala for half a decade and through my work with nonprofits and artists have come to appreciate the downtown food scene, as well as the history that surrounds it. I’m passionate about sharing the unique cuisines, crafted by talented local chefs, that make Ocala’s downtown eateries worth exploring.
What is Brick City Food Tours?
Uncover a vast spectrum of cooking styles in Ocala’s historic downtown. Your guided Brick City Food Tour visits 5 sit down tasting locations in the downtown neighborhood. Between samples, your informative guides (Kendrick and I) will share their experience of local customs, historic stories and specialty shops. This walking tour is ideal for Ocala residents and travelers eager to discover the culinary secrets and traditions that compose the horse capitol of the world. Whether you’re vacationing in Ocala for the first time or a long-time resident, you’re sure to walk away with a greater understanding of the geographic history and culinary techniques of the city.
Where You’ll Be
We’ll most likely visit Sayulita Taqueria (Mexican street food), Ivy on the Square (southern delicacies), Ocala’s Chocolate and Confections (the finest European chocolate), Pi on Broadway (gourmet pizzas and tapas), and Feta Mediterranean Cuisine (generational Greek tapas). However, we could do a slightly different version of this tour, depending on the weather and availability of the restaurant.
What Are People Saying?
“I cannot recommend this tour enough! It really showed off the diverse cuisine options all in walking distance in downtown Ocala. There really is something for everybody! Even as a local, I got to taste items off the menus I hadn’t had before that were so delicious I plan on going back and ordering again. I also enjoyed learning more about Ocala from the awesome tour guides. This was a great way to spend an afternoon, and my husband & I left full and happy!” – Brittany
“The Brick City Food Tour was a great experience. The food selections were great and the tour/learning about some of the history of downtown Ocala made the experience worthwhile. Enjoyed being able to connect and get to know the other members of the tour group. Thanks Brick City Food Tour for a great experience. Would highly recommend to others and will definitely make it a point to do it again!” – Justin
“I loved the day and enjoyed the experience! Was introduced to several places that I had not dined in before but will make a trip back to in the future.” – Michele
How Can You Support Us?
Book a tour here! With a maximum of 10 people per tour, it’s the perfect way to experience downtown Ocala and hopefully make a few friends along the way. The tours run from 2 PM – 5 PM, so it’s great for a fun afternoon adventure or a unique way to show out of town guests your city. We even do private tours for birthdays or corporate outings!
If you aren’t a foodie, you can still support us! Please share with your friends and family, spreading the word about our passion. Thank you in advance for supporting us, Ocala!
One of my favorite things about living in Ocala is how my calendar stays full with community events. When I first moved here I was at a networking event and commented on how hard it was to find things to do. The response I received was shock and awe – and rightfully so! It wasn’t that there weren’t things to do, I just didn’t know how to find them!
Now that I’ve learned how to find events I’m constantly asked, “How did you hear about that?” Here’s how I hunt out events and find adventure in my city:
Find Your Favorite Venue
There are so many great venues in Ocala that have a wide variety of shows and events! Between concerts, festivals, art exhibits and plays there’s no shortage of entertainment. I’d recommend following them on social media, checking their website, and joining their email newsletters so you always know about upcoming events.
By paying attention to what’s happening at The Reilly, I learned about Couch Sessions which has become one of my favorite ways to support local artists. These are a few of my favorite venues:
As a graduate of the University of Florida’s College of Journalism, I love supporting local publications. They’re also some of the best ways to find events I never would have heard of, because they have great connections with local nonprofits. Nearly every newspaper, magazine and blog has an “Events” section that’s always filled with out-of-the-box events like the “After Dark In The Park Movie Series,” which I found in Family Times Magazine.
Luckily for Ocala residents, a lot of these publications also have a strong social media presence. It’s not uncommon for me to watch Instagram stories and see Ocala Style or Ocala Magazine to post about an event for the coming weekend.
Support Local Nonprofits
If I had to list all of our amazing nonprofits this would be a 6-part series. Ocala has a strong nonprofit presence that always supplies exciting community events, and Marion Cultural Alliance is where I find a lot of them.
My all time favorite is the Levitt Amp Ocala Music Series, a free concert series that supplies our community with live music. This is the second year Ocala has been awarded a grant to host the series, and I pray it continues to receive support. With food trucks, amazing touring musicians and a pet friendly atmosphere, what’s not to love?
Make Your Own Events
Sometimes you have to be the leader! The best times are spent with friends and it doesn’t always have to have large costs associated. Try a fitness class with friends, throw a potluck Taco Tuesday (or any day, tacos are never a bad idea), or a dog party!
I hope this helps you experience more of Ocala’s culture, meet new people and feel more connected to your community! What ways do you find events and what are some of your favorite places, publications or nonprofits that I missed?
Hey there! My name is Kaitlyn Butler, and I go by Kait! I love online shopping, eating well and living well. I live in Ocala, Florida with my husband, staying busy with a variety of community events and local offerings. I studied public relations at the University of Florida (Go Gators!) and love interacting with all types of people. My blog is primarily focused on fashion, food and fitness.
Why A Blog?
In the last year my husband, Kendrick, and I moved across the country with our dog (Winslow) and cat (Nashville) to Chicago, got married and moved back home to Ocala. To many, it seemed like we couldn’t take the cold (it wasn’t the greatest, I’ll admit). In reality, we missed our life back home.
Moving thousands of miles away from family and friends put a lot of things in perspective.
Prior to the move I prided myself on my career and ambition. Changing jobs three times in a year really threw me for a loop. I’ve now started a 9-5 job and am looking for a way to express myself creatively outside of work.
A major factor in moving back to Ocala was the community. We met some wonderful people in Chicago, but we kept comparing life in the city to our life “back home”. We had no idea how much we would miss the people and places until we put a 16 hour drive between us. In this blog I hope to showcase the hidden gems of Ocala, bringing to light the things that make it home for us.
Then, there’s the Enneagram. I’m a Seven, which means I love any and all things exciting. Food, fitness, shopping – you name it. I’ll be sharing all my favorite activities here and I hope it lights your fire, too!