Book a Staycation at a Local Horse Farm
Feb 05, 2020 10:17PM
By Sheila Mahan
by Nancy DeVault
A refreshing “staycation,” or vacation spent at home or nearby, can provide all the perks of travel without the hassle of traffic jams or airport lines. For locals seeking an extravagant escape, a nearby luxury resort may fit the bill. But for those longing for a more pastoral respite, a farm staycation might be the right accommodation alternative. Bountiful farms in the heart of Ocala horse country are opening up their doors, houses, barns and gates to overnight guests seeking tranquil lodging. A heyday vacay at one of these rustic abodes is just a click away thanks to rental websites such as AirBnB.com, the popular online marketplace featuring unique housings and experiences.
Couples dreaming of greener pastures can retreat to a one-bed, one-bath studio-sized cottage for two at Chasin’ a Dream, a small working thoroughbred breeding facility just off oak tree lined NW 110th Avenue. After retiring from a New York-based oil company in 2002, Christine Weiss and her business partner Robert Dalton realized their dreams of running a horse farm.
“A lot of people think a horse is… a horse; but thoroughbreds are a very different breed than the other horses,” says Weiss of the variety best known for racing. According to TheHorseCapital.com, a digital directory of the Ocala/Marion County Chamber & Economic Partnership, Marion County is home to more than 1,500 horse farms, including 600 thoroughbred farms with about 75 breeds of horses and ponies.
Listed at $65 per night on AirBnB and separate from the farm’s main house, Chasin’ a Dream’s quaint rental cottage features a kitchenette, private garden and French doors leading to a deck overlooking horse pastures. The grounds also encompass a covered barn equipped with a gas barbeque to inspire alfresco dining, rocking chairs to let worries sway away and a cozy fire pit sure to spark staycation memories under the stars.
Horses may rule the roost at Chasin’ the Dream, but there are also dogs, cats and free-range chickens. “We’re usually able to give fresh-laid eggs to our guests,” Weiss says. Visitors with plans focused on romance can go for a carriage ride by directly booking with Horse Country Carriage Tours. The charming chariot arrives right at the farm’s entry gate to take passionate passengers off the beaten path to relish the area’s finest farms and estates.
Cottage rental is not required to participate in Chasin’ a Dream’s guided farm tour. Priced at $25 per person, the two-hour experience reins in inquisitive invitees with education-based entertainment. “We go from the beginning of how the thoroughbred came about with King Henry VIII all the way through the first stallions that bred the pedigree lines, and you learn everything right down to when the foals hit the ground,” Weiss summarizes. Tour participants get to interact with horses, including the farm’s eldest, 25-year-old Grandma.
Weiss says tours and stays can be loosely arranged around the farm’s new arrivals. “To try to be here for the birth of a foal, people can contact me to see when a foal is due,” she suggests. Because deliveries tend to happen overnight, a staycation could increase the probability of miraculously witnessing a mother mare welcoming her baby.
For roomier accommodations, locals can wander down the long, whimsical driveway off West Highway 326 to find Buena Vista Farm, an equine reproduction center and boarding facility. Available for $135 per night through AirBnB, this three-bedroom, two-bathroom ranch-style home comfortably fits six people and, if applicable, their pets.
“We’re a 65-acre farm, and the guest house has beautiful views of the pastures and the horses,” says owner and veterinarian Carolin von Rosenberg, DVM. Staycationers can take in the serene sights from the front porch or head out back to dive into the invigorating screened-in pool. Other convenient amenities include a full kitchen and a fireplace.
“It’s quiet and peaceful,” as von Rosenberg describes. Behind the scenes of this working farm, she has been dedicated to providing veterinary care since 1997, in addition to breeding, boarding and other services. Depending on the season, guests may see anywhere from 25 to 75 horses roaming the grounds of Buena Vista Farm.
Nestled among mature pecan trees and magnolia trees on NW 100th Street, Diamond Oaks Farm is a diamond in the rough, uniquely pairing farm fun with fine frills. This professional equine facility provides horse training, lessons, boarding, transport services and diverse accommodation options.
“We have tiered lodging—a historic home, a luxury suite and campers,” says co-owner and business manager Jami Walker, in addition to RV hook-ups. Thanks to varied room choices and spacious surroundings, Diamond Oaks Farm also satisfies event needs. “We’ve had weddings, graduation and birthday parties, family reunions and retreats here,” she says.
Renters can pony up $40 per night to book the 1,000-square-foot luxury suite, a one-bedroom, one-bath space furnished with a king-size bed, fireplace, spa shower and tub, tile floors and an inviting front porch with an electric awning. Guests can allow their minds to ride off into the sunset simply by opening the French doors to overlook 25 acres of green pastures speckled with about 15 elegant horses. “The pasture suite is kind of like a hotel on steroids! Perfect for a romantic getaway,” Walker assures. Carriage rides can also be arranged at the farm.
The fully restored stone crafted historic house at Diamond Oaks is blue-ribbon worthy. For $60 per night, this decorated rental can accommodate seven people with two bedrooms and one bathroom. Boasting its original hard pine wood floors, refurbished upgrades includes a full kitchen to prepare the provided farm-fresh eggs, plus dining room, living room and covered porch.
Guests can take this getaway up to a gratifying gallop with guided horseback rides on the farm’s picturesque trails or find their stride with riding lessons at a discounted renter’s rate. Diamonds Oaks’ head trainer, Jennifer Schuck, has 35 years of experience and can customize sessions to all skill levels.
For more information on these rentals, visit ChasinADream.com, DiamondOaksFarm.com and BuenaVistaFarmOcala.com. Bookings for these and other area horse farms can be made at AirBnB.com.