In search of more amenities and fewer headaches, meeting planners are looking to avoid the traffic, crowds, and lines of bigger cities like Orlando, Tampa, and Jacksonville. Instead, Marion County in central Florida offers an ideal combination of natural beauty, Southern charm, and excellent facilities that make it a dynamic destination for business conferences, corporate retreats, or large group meetings. Here is a look at the top five reasons to hold your next meeting in Marion County.
1. Proximity to Major Airports
Major airports are close to hotels and meeting spaces in Marion County, making it a hassle-free travel destination. The Ocala International Airport offers charter flights and corporate aviation, and serves the air cargo industry. As an alternative, many travelers prefer commercial flights from nearby Gainesville Regional, which is just 35 miles north. Less expensive flights to Orlando International Airport or Tampa International Airport are also options.
2. Less Tourist Traffic
In 2016, Miami, Tampa, and Orlando ranked among the top 20 worst cities nationwide for major traffic congestion, as noted by the navigation app TomTom. Avoid the nightmare of rush hour by picking a smaller community like Ocala in Marion County. With a well-planned network of highways and no crush of tourists clogging roads, it’s easy to travel to meetings or group activities.
3. Wide Selection of Restaurants and Shopping
From fine dining to local, down-home diners, there are a wide variety of restaurants for lunch breaks and dinners in Marion County. French, Asian, Mexican, steakhouses, barbecue joints, and more mean there is something for everyone. Forget something? The Paddock Mall in Ocala features top-brand shops while antique lovers will also enjoy finding rare treasures in Ocala’s many unique mom-and-pop stores.
4. Excellent Group Excursion Opportunities
The best corporate retreat and business meeting planners often include time for team-building trips that reduce stress for employees. Marion County features exceptional natural excursions through Ocala National Forest, as well as art and history museums and tours of horse farms. After all, Marion County is known as the “Horse Capital of the WorldTM.”
5. Laid-back Feel
With Ocala’s pretty tree-lined streets and Southern charm, Marion County is the ideal getaway that keeps meeting attendees focused and relaxed. The nearly 60,000 residents are friendly and helpful, and business owners and neighbors have a welcoming attitude. The community’s rustic ambience is just one more reason why so many planners are choosing this community for their next meetings and retreats.