In response to one too many Ocala bashing bumper stickers, allow me to introduce Ocala Rocks, a blog born out of love for my hometown and the people who make it ROCK. Here, I hope to share with you the people, places, events, attractions, businesses and everyday sweet nothings that make Ocala and the Marion county area a great place to live. I welcome information on people, places, events and yes even the sweet nothings (stay tuned for examples of what I consider a sweet nothing) that make Ocala great. About myself, I am a "30 something" money saving mom of 3 married to the love of my life and fellow Ocala native for almost 16 years. As a family we enjoy the outdoors, water sports, camping, entertaining, traveling, home improvement projects, and photography. Individually "Ocalimom" enjoys scrapbooking, papercrafts and throwing parties while "Ocalidad" likes model airplanes, motorcycles and most anything technology related. And in case you are wondering I am not ignorant of the current economic situation and joblessness our area is currently enduring however, I am a "glass half full" kind of girl and truly believe if you don't like Ocala, move to Orlando or get off your butt and make some lemonade out those "Ocala Sucks" lemons you've been sucking on! Enough Said!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Fall Family Fun at Coon Hollo Corn Maze

If you are looking for a great way to kick off the Fall season, you can't go wrong with a trip north on highway 441 to the Coon Hollo Corn Maze.  My family and I set aside an afternoon yesterday to explore this fully functioning farm turned fall attraction and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.  From the entrance booth you can see a bevy of activity centered around a large pole barn with hay bales for climbing, corn cribs for digging and tire swings for soaring.  Nearby, antique farm trucks and equipment appealed to the girls and boys in our group and are the perfect spot for candid photos so don't forget your camera.

After paying the entrance fee our family immediately set off for the maze itself.  A "Watering Hole" pavilion and fountain mark the entrance of the maze and drinks can be purchased here for between 1-2 dollars.  The maze is dusty after almost a month of no rain here in Marion county so treat yourself to a water or soda, you throat will thank you.  You will also want to be sure and wear closed toed shoes, farms are dirty and your feet will be too.  As you enter through the watering hole you will receive a punch card for each of the numbered posts positioned through the maze.  The group we navigated the maze with found #5 and #9 to be the trickiest to locate. You are asked to stay on the cut paths in the maze as the more narrow "cheater paths", as my "Ocalikiddos" fondly dubbed the stamped down visitor created walkways, lead  to nowhere.  Purists by nature, "Ocalidad" and I stuck to the intended path, took a few loops to nowhere but eventually found all 10 posts with their cute little card punches and made it out of the maze in about 30-45 minutes.  Your completed punch card can be redeemed back at the watering hole for a blow pop.

From the corn maze exit, our  4 and 6 year old made quick work of the obstacle course and then took off for  the farm train, a bumpy bouncy and oh so dusty barrel car train that can even accommodate the more adventurous moms and dads. After disembarking from our train ride we ventured over to Nana's Store where Nana herself presides over a table full of her own delicious baked goods like pumpkin pie, chocolate cupcakes and a particularly tempting creation called a Pineapple Supreme cake all available for purchase in single servings.  "Ocalimom" is attempting to downsize so I resisted the Pinapple Supreme Cake but succumbed to the free sample of  strawberry preserves on Nana's homemade bread.  The samples are generous and Nana would not hear of me sharing with "Ocalidad" so we each enjoyed a delicious snack.  Another treat just outside Nana's store is the generously large cup of ice tea that can be purchased for a dollar at the concession stand, easily a 22 ounce cup with fresh tea that will rival Sonny's any day.  "Ocalidad" and I agreed it was a $1 well spent on this dry day.

Our day was rounded out with a hay ride.  In the late afternoon sun  the tractor pulling three wagons makes a quaint picture silhouetted at the top of the hill.  Our wait was short and within 5 minutes it was our turn, the wagon closest to the tractor seems to have the least dusty ride but as I boarded I regretted not bringing my Claritin.  Our children enjoyed the ride up the hill and around the farm house to the 20 or so cows and two horses who were accommodating enough to partake of what had to be their twentieth snack of the day.  On the return trip our ride was completed with a gator spotting as we passed the pond.

So yes, Coon Hollo ROCKS!  The family and friends who own and operate the farm are friendly, the property is clean (although I did not venture over to the porta potties so I cannot attest to their condition), the fun is wholesome and the price is fair for a day full of fun.  So put down your smart phones and your Ipods and enjoy some fun the old fashioned way.

What you should know:
  • From Ocala it could be easy to miss the red sign marking their entrance, shaded by a large tree.  After you pass through McIntosh and the group of buildings called Harvest Village you will begin to see bright yellow signs on the right side of the road, slow down and start looking.  We found the yellow temporary signs and red entrance sign difficult to read while driving so be alert.
  • Plan to get dirty, dress accordingly, I would recommend jeans.  If I were to go again I would even consider a handkerchief for the more dusty activities to shield this sneezy nose of mine.
  • Take your Claritin, Zyrtec Benadryl will be glad you did.
  • Don't forget your camera, there are great props and plenty of shade for gorgeous pictures.
  • This mom could have used a few wet wipes on several occasions.  Antibacterial hand gel would be handy too.
  • Admission is Adults $8.50, Grandma and Grandpa $7.50 and Youth (4-12) $6.50 children 3 and under are free.
  • The corn maze is not stroller friendly so bring your Baby Bjorn.
Who should go:
  • Mom, Dad, Kiddos, Grandma, Grandpa, Auntie Sue...
  • Group rates are available for groups of 20 or more.
  • Our particular group thought it might be fun to come out after dark for a "Couples Night Out" as the maze is open to 9 pm.
visit their website at