15 Best Things to Do in Gainesville

15 Best Things to Do in Gainesville

Hometown of the University of Florida- Gainesville is a natural beauty when it comes to taking a vacation. Filled with fascinating gems, Gainesville has a lot to offer both in terms of nature as well as culture. A lot of people miss out on this beauty while they are in Florida, but we are here today to correct your mistakes. Let us take a look at all the top 15 things that Gainesville has to offer:

Millhopper Geological State Park

Devil's Millhopper Geological State Park
Michael Rivera, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

How would you feel if we told you that one of the top attractions in all of Gainesville is a massive sinkhole? Well, if you are down to explore one, then you are most welcome. If not, we’d still take you to have a look at this natural wonder.
Devil's Millhopper Geological State Park is quite a weird spot that tourists seem to love in Gainesville. You can find a combination of both history and geology in this sinkhole. It is not within the Gainesville city limits, for you do have to go a bit outskirts to see this one.

Did you know it has a depth of almost 120 meters? But, the most astonishing part is not the gigantic nature, but the presence of different ecological systems inside. You can find a sandhill, forest, and even a swamp in the same sinkhole. Also, it is covered entirely with limestone and water.

Meet exotic animals in Carson Springs Wildlife Conservation Foundation

Carson Springs Wildlife Conservation Foundation
Leonardo E Martinez / Shutterstock.com

Are you into animals? Or, should we ask are you into exotic animals? If yes, then Carson Springs Wildlife Conservation Foundation is just the place for you.
Though many people treat this one as a zoo, it is not one. In reality, it is more of a sanctuary. Most of the animals here have been rescued. The others have been relocated from unfavorable conditions and just brought here.

It is quite an admirable institution as they primarily focus on the welfare of these animals. Their needs are looked after properly, and they have experts who cater to the animals all the time. There are many tours conducted here. You can book any one of these and get yourself a fun day, filled with interaction with these exotic species who have found their homes in the sanctuary!

Be amazed by the collections of the Florida Museum of Natural History

Florida Museum of Natural History
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The next spot we have planned for you is the Florida Museum of Natural History. You don’t have to travel far for this one, as it is situated within the campus of the University of Florida. It is one of those hidden gems that you must not miss on during your vacation in Gainesville. Most people think that this is some ordinary museum, and do not make the effort to go explore this one. But, you would be doing yourself an injustice if you did that too!

The prime attraction of the Florida Museum of Natural History is the permanent collection of the museum. The Fossil collection is something we highly recommend you to check out. Other than that the Butterfly Rainforest is an amazing creation too.

Enjoy the water at Ichetucknee Springs State Park

Ichetucknee Springs State Park
Joanne Dale / Shutterstock.com

Are you missing the water too much? Thinking Gainesville has no water to offer to you? Think again, for we have the Ichetucknee Springs State Park in store for you. The park protects that water of the Ichetucknee River’s head spring. And, mind you, the water is so amazing that it needs to be protected!

The first thing that will hit your eyes is its amazing blue color. Next, let us talk you into the different water-related activities you can do here in this park. Did you know you can go scuba diving here? Not fun enough? Try snorkeling! You can even go kayaking in these crystal blue waters. The place where natural beauty and wildlife beauty blend is the Ichetucknee Springs State Park. It is indeed the best of both worlds.

Get creative at Cade Museum for Creativity and Invention

Cade Museum for Creativity and Invention
Owen Allen from Atherton, Australia, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Do you think you are lacking some creativity in life? Want to get inspired on your vacation? Come with us. Let us introduce you to the Cade Museum for Creativity and Invention. A museum that has been specially constructed to bring out the creativity in the youth- Cade Museum for Creativity and Invention lives up to its hype.

It teaches you how you can see creativity in your everyday mundane life. Nothing can inspire your creative mind like this one as it has been specially constructed for struggling artists and entrepreneurs. They also have various programs and courses where you can enroll and learn more about bringing creativity into your everyday routine.

Revisit history at Haile Homestead

Haile Homestead in Gainesville
Kvkirkman, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Are you ready to flip the pages through a history book? Feel like you could step a bit back in time now at this next spot? Fine, let us take you back to the old horrible days of the 1800s. But, before that let us introduce you to the historic Haile Homestead.

The homestead is a part of the Kanapaha Cotton Plantation. Did you the entire house was constructed by the slave and laborers for the family? More importantly, the building material of this house happens to be Cyprus wood. The most fascinating thing is that the history of this plantation or home has been carved or written on its walls. So, you can read about what happened here.

Stroll around Downtown Gainesville

Downtown Gainesville
Sean Pavone / Shutterstock.com

Let us come back into the beautiful city once again, shall we? There is a saying that the downtown part of any city is always at its liveliest, and Downtown Gainesville is no exception either.

You can always find it crowded and can do anything at any time of the day. Surrounded by shops, boutiques, restaurants, and chains- there are plenty of things to do downtown.  Try buying some souvenirs for this is the most affordable part of town too. Do visit the different boutiques for a little shopping. Done with everything? Choose any cuisine for all sorts of food are available here.

Check out the Matheson History Museum

Matheson History Museum
Rfitzsi12, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Since we are already downtown, we should quickly get going to our next spot- Matheson History Museum. Matheson History Museum is quite an intriguing place for any tourist. It oaths to preserve and protect the heritage and culture of Gainesville.

Not only Gainesville, but you will also find your hands on several pieces from the neighboring Alachua County as well. The permanent exhibit is quite appealing and has every fact and document regarding the two places. However, you will find some hidden gems if you look hard enough. Plenty of photographs, newspaper cuttings, letter scan be disclosed in these halls of the museum that date back to the historic part of Gainesville.

Rejuvenate yourself at Morningside Nature Center

Living history farm in Morningside Nature Center
Ebyabe, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Do you want to be close to nature? Are you someone who often feels like this city life is getting too hard? Then, Gainesville has a solution for you. Head over to Morningside Nature Center for a short escapade!

This savannah encompasses a huge area of almost 260 acres. It is filled with pine trees offering some of the majestic images of nature itself. There are a lot of hiking trails here. If you feel like you are up for a hike, be sure to visit the center. Also, do you just want to walk around alone in nature? Morningside offers you that too. You can hire a guide if you feel like it. Otherwise, you will just be fine with yourself!

Take a deep breath at Paynes Prairie

Paynes Prairie Preserve state park
Andriy Blokhin / Shutterstock.com

When we talk about Paynes Prairie, we mainly mean the awe-striking scenic beauty that comes along with it. Another one of those places where you escape to when you are tired of the city- Paynes Prairie has a lot of activities lined up for you.
Go hiking along the trails or just climb up the tower that overlooks the entire park. Trust us, the views are panoramic and truly dynamic!

Discover Lake Alice

Lake Alice
H.J. Herrera / Shutterstock.com

One of the hidden gems of Florida- Lake Alice is mesmerizing. But, the bitter truth is that people often miss out on its beauty. It is quite important to the Alachua culture. You will also find the graves of their people here near the lake. The place by itself is truly breath-taking. Take your time, walk around the lake, and enjoy nature for a while. The Baughman Center and the Bat House and Barn are some of the local spots that you can check out after you are done with the lake.

See the flora and fauna at Kanapaha Botanical Gardens

Kanapaha Botanical Gardens
Timeless Tokens Media / Shutterstock.com

Want to treat your eyes to some gorgeous greenery? Head over to the phenomenal Kanapaha Botanical Gardens then. The Kanapaha Botanical Gardens is quite a visual treat as it has a lot of exotic plant species you might not get to see elsewhere.
We urge you to visit the Kanapaha Botanical Gardens during spring as it is at the peak of its beauty during that time. Also, it is said that the collection of bamboos in the Kanapaha Botanical Gardens is the largest one in all of Florida.

There are wooden boards where you can walk, and wherever you go you will be greeted with horticulture. Feast on these beautiful sights as there are not a lot of places where you get to see such an exquisite collection of plants. Also, they host quite a lot of cultural festivals during different times of the year. If you happen to be in town during one of these, don’t forget to make your way here.

Have a drink at Swamp Head Brewery

Did you have enough sightseeing? Want to sit down with a drink and chill for a bit? No worries, we got you covered. Grab some local beer at Swamp Head Brewery. And, mind us, don’t dare say you are not interested in any way as Swamp Head Brewery takes pride in what they are doing and the fact that they are Florida based only.

The best part about this brewery is that the owners are ecologically conscious and never do anything that will harm the environment or so. All the ingredients that are used in making the drinks are either organic or have been gathered from local regions. They offer some tours where you can roam around and learn a bit about the ways that they run the business. Be sure to join them if you want to have some fun with beer.

Go on a tour to Bluefield Estate Winery

If you are all done with nature and museums, we recommend that you might take a wine tour. Doesn’t sound so bad, does it? Bluefield Estate Winery is a favorite among locals as well as tourists. But, to visit this winery, you have to travel a bit to Windsor. But, don’t worry, it is quite close.

The best part about this estate is that it is run by a lovely couple. Bonus point- They are both brewers! It all started from a little experiment where they tried their best to make some delicious wine from blueberries in the vicinity of their kitchen. But, a decade later, now it is one of the top tourist attractions as well as breweries in all of Florida!

Catch a game at the Ben Hill Griffin Stadium

Ben Hill Griffin Stadium
Felix Mizioznikov / Shutterstock.com

What is a trip to Florida without catching a mighty football game? This time it is college football so be sure to get chaotic in the game. Ben Hill Griffin Stadium is one of the liveliest stadiums you can ever book a ticket in. It is large indeed and can seat almost 90k people. It gets quite lively when it is football night and the locals are quite invested in the games too. The University of Florida has most of their homecoming games here in this stadium. You might even catch a celebrity here for they are known to make their appearances in some games.

We are at the end of our trip to Gainesville. As you can guess, Gainesville is a lively place full of charm. Be sure to stop by for a weekend if you in Florida!