Have you heard the phrase “hidden in plain sight”? The World Equestrian Center is a must see Florida attraction we somehow missed on our many Florida travels.
How do you not hear about a facility that has over 300 acres in the middle of, arguably named, the “horse capital of the world”, Ocala/Marion County, Florida?
The World Equestrian Center’s impressive credentials include;
- 132,000 square feet of event capability.
- A five-star hotel on the property.
- Unique multiple upscale shopping venues front the arena and hotel.
- Two-travel parks for large motor homes and campers of all sizes.
- An outdoor competitive horse arena that holds up to 7500 people for equestrian competitions and other similar events.
- Some of the best dining opportunities in north-central Florida.
- Site of horse shows, dog shows, major conventions, sporting events, and fabulous weddings.
All of these features are just a few minutes off I-75, the main north-south Florida highway, and less than two hours from either coast.
Florida Travel Blog has covered many locations, attractions, and events in north-central Florida. Places like Silver Springs, The Villages, The Devil’s Den in Williston and Rainbow River Springs – all within a few miles of the most extravagant attraction in the area, if not the state!
The World Equestrian Center Unequaled for Visitor Experience
As you enter the World Equestrian Center, you are impressed with twin buildings on each side of a huge walkway that leads to the main outdoor arena and the Equestrian Hotel.
At the time of our most recent visit, it was the second week of December. After seeing the World Equestrian Center’s Winter Wonderland, 2022, we were convinced that no one, other than Disney World, has a more expansive and impressive Christmas scene. Visiting the rest of the property, we understood World Equestrian Center’s commitment to their visitors’ experience and Christmas was no exception.
As you walk up to the raised viewing paddock over the arena, you see competitive horse jumping. The arena covers a couple of acres with large teletron screens displaying the action. We can’t claim to be knowledgeable on equestrian competition, but watching the grace and beauty of these animals and riders being put through their paces may convert us! We suspect many travelers have never seen a live equestrian event. It is quite an experience in this setting.
The Equestrian Hotel
As you walk around the arena, you see this massive white structure inviting a visit. The Equestrian Hotel is a 5-star facility that deserves the rating if nothing more than the magnificent lobby entrance. Entering the hotel lets you know you can expect luxury and service. Even in warm weather, the 8-foot-long fireplace is an inviting centerpiece of the room. Forbes Magazine calls the World Equestrian Center “unabashedly opulent”. We agree.
The World Equestrian Center has more than a half dozen places to dine, but the stars of this must see Florida attraction are The Yellow Pony and Stirrups. The Yellow Pony has horse saddle seating at the bar and rustic wood tables offering exceptionally unique sandwiches and entrees. Stirrups is the place for fine dining. They offer prime steaks, chops and seafood in a classic eclectic setting. Both restaurants are superb. When visiting Stirrups, don’t leave your wallet at home, but if a truly “fine-dining” experience is what you are looking for, this is the location.
The rooms at the Equestrian are well-appointed and spacious and have picturesque views of the expansive property. However, if you book a stay, request a room with a view of the arena where you can watch all the daily action. Room rates seem very reasonable compared to other 5-star hotel experiences.
The Equestrian Hotel on its own could be a big must see Florida attraction. Coupled with the surrounding 300 acres of activities, The World Equestrian Center rivals any other attraction in north Florida.
Some FAQS About The World Equestrian Center
- The World Equestrian Center is the largest equestrian facility in the United States.
- The WEC was developed by Larry Roberts, a trucking Magnate from Ohio.
- There is another sister equestrian center in Wilmington, Ohio, also part of the Roberts family of developments.
- During Hurricane Ian, which devastate southwest Florida, The World Equestrian Center housed some 3000 horses, protecting them from the storm.
- Roberts also created Golden Ocala Golf and Equestrian Club. Golden Ocala was the host to LPGA events and is known for replica holes from around the world. We have played the course and consider it one of the top courses in north Florida.
- The World Equestrian Center has a variety of world-class facilities available for sporting events, trade shows, equestrian events and much more.
The location of the World Equestrian Center is discovered conveniently from any direction. Interstate I-75 runs through Ocala, Florida which gives easy access from the north or south. From Orlando on Rt. 27, the trip is just over an hour. From Jacksonville to Ocala, Florida is under 2 hours on Rt. 301. And from Tampa, Florida the trip is about 2 hours traveling I-75.
Florida Travel Blog will be adding the World Equestrian Center to our list of major destinations in Florida.
Check out some of these other Florida attractions –
12 Most Popular Florida Destinations – Florida Travel Blog – Documenting the REAL Florida!
19 Florida Island Adventures – Florida Travel Blog – Documenting the REAL Florida!
Originally published at https://floridatravel.blog/world-equestrian-center-florida-attraction/