May 16, 2021

Business Florida 2021 - The Regions

North Central

Alachua • Bradford • Columbia • Dixie • Gilchrist • Hamilton Lafayette • Levy • Madison • Marion • Suwannee • Taylor • Union

| 10/30/2020

Life & Leisure

Gainesville is more than just a great college town. USA Today ranked this medium-sized city among its “Best College Towns in America” in 2019, and the website puts Gainesville at No. 5 on its “10 Best College Towns 2019,” citing the city’s appealing mix of arts and culture, outdoor recreation and nightlife in addition to educational amenities. Livability consistently ranks Gainesville among its “Top 100 Best Places to Live.”

North Central’s 13 counties offer outdoor enthusiasts Silver Springs in Ocala, Gilchrist Blue Springs — Florida’s newest state park — in High Springs and Ocala National Forest. Along the coast in Levy County, check out Cedar Key. While you’re near the Gulf of Mexico coastline, try your hand at scalloping in season.

North Central sites of interest in Gainesville include the Florida Museum of Natural History with the Butterfly Rainforest and the Samuel P. Harn Museum of Art. Also nearby are the Cate Museum for Creativity & Invention and the 10-acre Santa Fe College Teaching Zoo.

At just 1,663 square miles, Marion boasts more horses and ponies than any other place in America. In 1999, the U.S. Department of Agriculture named this little slice of the Sunshine State “Horse Capital of the World.” Some 35,000+ thoroughbreds make their homes here, and the acres dedicated to their care and feeding top 70,000. The farms, training centers, equipment, storage breeding and racing stock account for about $3.5 billion. Florida’s thoroughbred farms and training centers have produced 50+ national champions, two Breeders’ Cup champions, six Horses of the Year and two Triple Crown winners — Affirmed in 1978 and American Pharoah in 2015. And coming soon in northwest Marion, the Ocala World Equestrian Center featuring indoor and outdoor arenas, a hotel, commercial space and home plans to be fully open in 2021.

Tags: North Central, Business Florida

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