Bronson is a rural area near Ocala, FL, which is known as the official Horse Capital of the World. The Ocala area has a gazillion horse farms and training facilities, plenty of competition venues, and a packed calendar of horse events. In the winter, many training and racing programs from farther north relocate their operations to Ocala, and Ocala recently became home to the Disneyland of the horse world, the World Equestrian Center–the largest equestrian complex in the US.
It’s a real treat for me, as a horse person, to visit the Ocala area. And to make this stop even more exciting: we are incredibly fortunate to have friends in Morriston, between Bronson and Ocala, who are involved in horse racing, and offered us a behind-the-scenes tour of their training facility. I was offered the opportunity to ride out onto the racetrack as a babysitter for one of the racehorses and it was one of the very coolest things I’ve gotten to do while Airstreaming!
Black Prong Equestrian Village is a horsey paradise an hour north of Homosassa, and 45 minutes northwest of Ocala. The campground has a mix of spacious RV pads and sweet cottages–some of which are connected to stables, so you and your horse can vacation side by side. Bring your horse with you and trail ride or drive a carriage for miles through the forest, practice in the dressage arena, or run through the obstacle course. It’s young Lauren’s dream destination.
It was too cold to enjoy the pool this time, but we used the fitness center, we did laundry (it’s FREE, you guys. What other campground has free laundry???), and we bought two meals from the new food trailer, Galloping Gourmet. They serve creative and delicious breakfast (including espresso drinks) and lunch items, and you can order ahead and skip the line. What a super addition to an already super campground!
Our only real off-campus field trip was the 45-minute drive into Ocala. We spent a few hours checking out the World Equestrian Center, then walking around downtown and sampling some beers.
WEC is bonkers. The facility is enormous and shiny-new, with multiple indoor and outdoor arenas, shops, restaurants, stables, a spa, and a hotel (and RV parking!). We were excited that a competition was underway when we visited so we got to watch a little bit of the action, and if we’d planned better, we could have had dinner with a view of that evening’s Grand Prix jumper class.
Downtown Ocala has a small, walkable historic district with some neat buildings, a bunch of shops and restaurants, and a few breweries. J took us to three breweries, then we picked up some carryout to take back to the Airstream.
Big Hammock Brewery and Bites was our first stop, a fun and busy little place. We liked sitting at the bustling bar, but we can only report on one of their beers, as they only had two of their own beers on tap: the IPA we tried was good. The thing that will bring us back was not the beer, though, it’s the food menu: bao! Scallion pancake! Ramen and rice bowls! Yes please.
The Corkscrew is a different type of bar: they help you make your own beer or wine. Obviously we didn’t have time for that, but we did enjoy relaxing in the cozy taproom to taste their white chocolate stout and a sparkling wine.
We stopped into Stella’s Modern Pantry, a super cute gift shop/cafe next door to The Corkscrew. The menu is full of fresh and tasty-sounding sandwiches and salads, and the desserts in the display case looked heavenly.
Infinite Ale Works is a cool spot in an old service station with a jackpot of sours on tap when we visited. I got a flight of fantastic fruited goses, and J had a hazy IPA, and we were happy campers.
On the way home we grabbed carryout from Latino y Mas. We wanted salads for dinner, and they are highly rated and offer online ordering. The avocado salad was delicious, and the rest of the menu must be good as Latino y Mas was crazy busy on Saturday night.
We’ll definitely go back to Black Prong, but maybe for two nights rather than three. My to-do list is all about eating and drinking:
- Get food from Big Hammock in Ocala
- Check out The Beach Ocala and Yum Yum Kitchen, halfway between Black Prong and Ocala. These were on our list from our first visit. The Beach is a dog-friendly bar/restaurant popular with the horsey set, and Yum Yum Kitchen is a breakfast/lunch food truck with some interesting-sounding sandwiches and rice bowls on the menu.
From Black Prong we continued northward to Gainesville for some surprisingly great hiking and Indian food! And more beer, of course.