Best Things to Do in Gainesville
Gainesville is a city in the northern reaches of Florida. It is the county seat of Alachua County and is home to the University of Florida, so if you’re a college student looking to spend some of your money, then Gainesville is for you. The city is also home to Santa Fe College, so if you’re a commuter student, then you can attend Gainesville for a portion of your education.
As one of the oldest cities in the state of Florida, Gainesville has a lot going for it; from the University of Florida to the Gator marching band, it’s a city that has a lot to offer tourists. If you’re looking to do some fun and best things to do in this city, here are some ideas to get you started
Tours & Things to do hand-picked by our insiders
1. Cade Museum for Creativity and Invention
Housed within the University of Florida’s Center for Arts and Sciences, the Cade Museum for Creativity and Invention offers a variety of programming and exhibits, such as The Seven Layer Book: The Art and Design of Colin Stetson.
Guests can explore the Multimedia Lab, in which they can create music with an eclectic mix of instruments, including drums, samples, and electronic media. Visit with the Hialeah Uncle Frank from television’s Adventures of Coyote Ugly, Mickey, for Halloween.
Visit an old jail with an amazing historic jail tour, and enjoy programs and lectures with award-winning authors, such as Francine Prose and Susan Strecker. Goodall Osteological Museum This museum is named after David Goodall, an English botanist and a world authority on cicadas.
Address: 811 S Main St, Gainesville, FL 32601
Phone: (352) 371-8001
2. Gainesville Artisans Guild Gallery
Gainesville is home to many talented artists. One of the best ways to see their work is to visit the Gainesville Artisan Guild Gallery. The historic district’s gallery is located on Southwest 4th Avenue and showcases area artists by displaying and selling their works.
The Gainesville Artisan Guild Gallery is a performance space used by local musicians, artists, and poets. Walking into space feels like a journey into the past, with a full cafe to the left of the main room and a fully stocked bar on the right.
The main room is a large space to host and accommodate any size crowd, with a stage, and a second-floor balcony for extra space. The gallery is available to rent at an affordable rate, so if you are looking to contact a local band to play for a party, or you are an aspiring artist looking for a place to show off your work, this is the place to be.
Address: 811 S Main St, Gainesville, FL 32601
Phone: (352) 371-8001
3. Carson Springs Wildlife Conservation Foundation
The award-winning Carson Springs Wildlife Conservation Foundation has grown from an educational initiative for the Gainesville/Alachua area into one of the nation’s largest educational non-profit wildlife conservation organizations.
It offers programs for all ages with the goal of educating young people about the environmental and conservation issues facing their local community and beyond.
It provides hands-on educational opportunities for school groups, scout troops, church groups, and youth summer camps, with local wildlife presented positively, meaningful, and engaging.
Address: 8528 E, County Rd 225, Gainesville, FL 32609
Phone: (352) 468-2827
4. Florida Museum Of Natural History
The Florida Museum of Natural History is among the best free things to do in Gainesville. The Florida Museum of Natural History is a place that’s been in Gainesville, Florida, for over 100 years. The museum is home to all of the natural history of the state of Florida.
There are collections of artifacts from paleontology to zoology. They also have a collection of more than 60,000 artifacts that range from mastodon bones to animal skins. This place is fantastic for kids of all ages as well as adults.
They also have great learning opportunities and events that educate people about our history in Florida. It is one of the largest museums in the Caribbean region and the largest natural and cultural history museum in Florida.
It is a component of the University of Florida Cultural Plaza, a complex of buildings that includes the Florida Museum of Natural History, the Harn Museum of Art, the Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park, the Florida Gymnasium, and the Curtis M. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts.
Address: 3215 Hull Rd, Gainesville, FL 32611
5. Devil’s Millhopper Geological State Park
Devil’s Millhopper Geological State Park is a hidden treasure in Florida. This amazing site, which is located in Gainesville, contains a natural sinkhole that drops 60 to 65 feet into a cave system.
While sinkholes are common in Florida, most are smaller depressions in the ground that are submerged in water. Devil’s Millhopper is a dry sinkhole, which is uncommon in Florida. This park is a natural wonder and has been designated a National Natural Landmark because of its unique attributes.
This state park has eight hiking trails and a place called Devil’s Millhopper, a deep sinkhole 80 feet across and 120 feet deep. The sinkhole is at least 400 feet in diameter and has a small pond inside it.
The sinkhole was created by water erosion and carved out by a small stream at the bottom of the sinkhole. “Devil’s Millhopper Geological State Park” is located in Gainesville, Florida, which is in the northeastern corner of Alachua County.
This state park is perfect for hikers, and the trails are in great condition since they are well-maintained. You will have to pay a small fee to get into the park.
Address: 4732 Millhopper Rd, Gainesville, FL 32653
Phone: (352) 955-2008
6. Haile Homestead, Gainesville, Florida
Haile Homestead is a historic site in Gainesville, Florida, that is dedicated to preserving the history of Alachua County and the surrounding area.
It is located at 6800 S.W. 27th Way, near the intersection of 27th Way and Tram Road. The homestead was first purchased in the 1830s by William Haile, who was running a plantation at the time.
It is now a museum that showcases the living conditions of Florida pioneers and some of the farming and agricultural techniques they used.
During the Great Depression, the federal government started the Resettlement Administration. The goal of the Resettlement Administration was to relocate Americans from the Dust Bowl and other impoverished areas.
The Resettlement Administration’s goal was to create successful communities; some of the communities they created still exist today. The Haile Homestead in Gainesville, Florida was one of those communities.
You can discover the past of the enslaved and how life was for them and the Haile family by the Haile Homestead right now.
Address: 8500 SW Archer Rd, Gainesville, FL 32608
Phone: (352) 336-9096
7. Kika Silva Pla Planetarium, Florida
A trip to Gainesville is not complete without a trip to the Kika Silva Pla Planetarium. Located at the University of Florida, this planetarium makes for a great date night or a fun outing with the family. You can see everything from a solar system walkthrough to a live show featuring your favorite constellation.
The planetarium also offers free educational programs after school, for kids in 4th grade and up, that will be sure to make you the coolest parent or teacher in your child’s eyes.
Gainesville, FL is one of the most beautiful cities in the country, and it is blessed with a little gem. Kika Silva Pla Planetarium, located right on campus at the University of Florida, is a small planetarium with a big heart.
Named after a beloved Gainesville educator and science advocate, the planetarium has taught its community about the stars for more than 40 years.
Address: 3000 NW 83 St Building X, Gainesville, FL 32606
Phone: (352) 395-5225
8. Ichetucknee Springs State Park
Ichetucknee Springs State Park is one of the most popular destinations for outdoor recreation in north-central Florida. The park’s most popular attraction is the Ichetucknee River, which flows through the park and is fed by a series of seven crystal-clear springs.
It is a great place for a family picnic or for a day of swimming and canoeing. The day I went to a spring-fed river in Florida is special for me. I’m pretty sure there are many springs in Florida, but none like the Ichetucknee.
This spring is located in the Ichetucknee Springs State Park, a place I had always wanted to go to. The Ichetucknee is a great place to spend a weekend if you want to enjoy nature.
9. Loblolly Woods Nature Park
The Morningside Nature Center (established 1987) is one of several excellent naturalists and environmental groups located near the city. The Nature Center’s permanent collection, created with a local community grant, includes both indoor and outdoor exhibits, ranging from birds to insects to plants.
Several interesting trails can be found along the rolling hills on the nature center’s grounds, giving you a great opportunity to observe nature from different angles. One trail takes you to a winery where you can learn more about the plant and animal life that grows on the property.
Another trail, the Bat Trail, will get your adrenaline going as you hike through a roosting area and learn about the winged residents’ importance.
Address: 3315 NW 5th Ave, Gainesville, FL 32607
Phone: (352) 334-5067
10. Harn Museum Of Art
The Harn Museum of Art at the University of Florida is a museum focused on works of art from the Americas in the collection of the University of Florida. It is located at the north end of the UF campus, on Museum Road, in Gainesville, Florida, United States.
The museum is named for Albert and Amanda Harn, who donated their collection of pre-Columbian art in 1949. This collection is one of the most important collections of Pre-Columbian art in the United States and the core of the Harn Museum collection.
Just as the name implies, the Harn Museum of Art is a great museum for anyone interested in art. It is located on the University of Florida campus and provides a three-story museum for you to explore. The museum has been ranked as one of the top ten university museums in the country.
The museum includes works from famous artists such as Salvador Dali, Jackson Pollock, and Diego Rivera. The museum also has one of the largest collections of China trade silver in the United States. The collection includes more than six hundred objects.
Address: 3259 Hull Rd, Gainesville, FL 32608
Phone: (352) 392-9826
11. Downtown Gainesville
Downtown Gainesville is the cultural and administrative heart of the city. The downtown area is home to the Gainesville City Hall, the Alachua County Courthouse, the Main Library, the University of Florida Health Science Center, and various city and state government offices. Downtown is also home to the Madison Social, a favorite local bar, and the Gainesville Sun, a major local newspaper. For a more complete list, here is a list of attractions in Downtown Gainesville.
Here you can find a variety of local shops and restaurants. It’s also home to the Hippodrome State Theatre, the Fresh Arts Centre, the Regional Transit System (RTS), and the Downtown Post Office. You can also find a variety of affordable hotels in Downtown Gainesville, FL.
Weather: 76°F (24°C), Wind E at 12 mph (19 km/h), 37% Humidity
Population: 132,127 (2019)
Area code: Area code 352
ZIP code: 32601–32614, 32627, 32635, 32641, 32653
12. Kanapaha Botanical Gardens, Gainesville, FL
Kanapaha Botanical Gardens is home to a huge variety of plants and bird species and is located on the grounds of a former nature preserve.
Nature lovers will feel right at home, as the grounds are dotted with ponds, lakes, marshlands, and wooded areas. The grounds are large and not overly crowded, which is a nice change from many other Florida parks.
Kanapaha Botanical Gardens is a self-supporting unit of the University of Florida. It is dedicated to the preservation of Florida’s native plants.
With over 13,000 species of plants, some extremely rare and even endangered, Kanapaha has become a must-see for anyone visiting Gainesville. The garden is open to the public and one of the best things to do in Gainesville Florida.
Address: 4700 SW 58th Dr, Gainesville, FL 32608
Phone: (352) 372-4981
13. Curtis M Phillips Center for Performing Arts
The Curtis M. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts is the largest multi-use venue in Gainesville, Florida. It is named after Curtis M. Phillips, former mayor of Gainesville and developer of the neighboring Phillips Center Office Park.
The 1,828-seat venue is home to performances by the Gainesville Symphony Orchestra, Gainesville Community Chorus, Gainesville Youth Orchestra, the University of Florida small ensembles, and a variety of other performances.
The center brings in a large variety of theatre, music, dance, and other performing arts. The center has been in existence since October of 1992 and is named after Curtis M Phillips, who was a Gainesville developer, businessman, and philanthropist. The center is a large complex that can hold multiple events at one time.
Address: 3201 Hull Rd, Gainesville, FL 32611
Phone: (352) 392-2787
14. Mix N Mingle Fun Bikes
Find out where to drink at the best places on the Mix N Mingle Bike Tour. The pedal party starts when you get on the sixteen-person cycle on University Avenue.
With the inboard music blaring you’ll cycle around Downtown before stopping at the designated pubs for leg rest and refreshment.
You’re guaranteed to meet new people whenever you go on this tour. The tours last for two hours.
15. Ben Hill Griffin Stadium
The Ben Hill Griffin Stadium is one of the biggest in Florida and is referred to by locals as “the Swamp.”
It has played host to numerous sporting events, concerts, ceremonies, championships, and pep rallies and has about 90,000 seats.
The annual Gator Growl, a significant homecoming event for the University of Florida during football season, is possibly the Ben Hill Griffin Stadium’s most well-known tradition.
People travel from all around the state to watch everything from live comedy shows to broadcast skits.
Celebrity guests frequently arrive, and it’s a wonderful time that incites football excitement in the audience.
Of course, there are less well-known attractions at the stadium as well.
Bowling matches between high schools and colleges are frequently conducted there. Concerts were once frequent, but recent turf concerns have made them more uncommon.
You should definitely visit the Ben Hill Griffin Stadium if you enjoy football.
In one of Florida’s largest and most well-liked stadiums, there’s probably something worth seeing even during the off-season.
Address: 157 Gale Lemerand Dr, Gainesville, FL 32611, USA
Phone: +1 352-375-4683
16. Bluefield Estate Winery
The Bluefield Estate Winery, a family-run business south of Gainesville, was founded by a married couple in their own kitchen. This wine, which was introduced in 2006, is distinctive since it is produced on the farm using blueberries and muscadine grapes.
After a few attempts with locally grown grapes and blueberries, they decided they were onto something and decided to make their own wine.
Currently, the Bluefield Estate Winery is a small business that is hidden away in the broader Gainesville region.
It’s not fancy, but it’s realistic.
The horizon is dotted with muscadine and blueberry vineyards, and each bottle of wine is made and corked by hand.
You can pick your own berries from the owners’ property during harvest season to use in custom-made wines.
Think about visiting the Bluefield Estate Winery if you’re seeking for something special to do in Gainesville.
It will make a fantastic vacation tale and an even better bottle of alcohol.
Address: 22 Co Rd 234, Gainesville, FL 32641, USA
Phone: +1 352-337-2544
17. Matheson History Museum
Gainesville’s Matheson History Museum is located in the city’s center and serves to preserve and highlight the past of both Gainesville and Alachua County.
Illustrated gazettes, pictures, and a sizable collection of thousands of old postcards of Florida are among the items kept in the former American Legion Hall, which was constructed in 1932.
The Museum also houses a number of both permanent and temporary exhibits. The recreation of the Matheson Country Store is one of the exhibits you will view.
You can visit the Museum whenever you like, either on your own or with a guide. The museum also houses a bookshop with a selection of fascinating tomes about local history.
Address: 513 E University Ave, Gainesville, FL 32601, United States
Phone: +1 352-378-2280
18. Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park
Thanks to its distinct biology, history, and geology as well as its profusion of wild species, this state park was designated Florida’s first preserve back in 1971.
More than 20 distinctive biological habitats, including bison and wild horses, can be found at Paynes Prairie.
Through the many routes that are accessible to persons on foot, bicycles, and horses, you may spend the entire day here exploring this preserve. La Chua Trail is one of the most well-liked trails.
Address: 100 Savannah Blvd. Micanopy FL 32667
Phone: +1 352-466-3397
19. Lubee Bat Conservancy
One of the many attractions in Gainesville is Lubee Bat Conservancy, where you can watch wildlife.
The Lubee Bat Conservancy is working to address the misconceptions people have about bats, which are among the most misunderstood animals in the world.
A large number of bat species, including many rare and endangered varieties, may be found at the Lubee Bat Conservancy, which is situated in the center of Gainesville.
The establishment’s objectives include educating the public about these surprisingly sensitive animals and caring for specific animals that need rehabilitation.
Do not board a flight to Florida without first making an appointment for your visit to the Lubee Bat Conservancy.
When you arrive, though, the hassle will be worthwhile. You’ll receive a personal tour and have the opportunity to interact with, feed, and literally adopt a bat.
If you’re lucky, you could even get to see the bats create some artwork for you because some of them have been taught to paint.
How many locations in Gainesville can you find that?
Address: 1309 NW 192nd Ave, Gainesville, FL 32609, United States
Phone: +1 352-485-1250
20. University of Florida Bat Houses
Here is a location that bat lovers should know about. The largest occupied bar houses in the world are The Bat Houses, which are situated on the north side of Museum Road inside the University of Florida Campus.
Several different species of bats reside in this Bat House, and it is amazing to see each one come at dusk, or around 20 minutes after nightfall, to eat and exercise.
Visit this Bat House to learn more about bat behavior. For instance, while you watch, you will notice that they like quiet, warm evenings since there are lots of insects to consume at this time.
Bats typically don’t bother humans who bother them when they are eating. So, when they go outside to eat at sunset, you can visit them.
Don’t forget that spring and summer are the greatest seasons to observe bats.
Address: 3215 Hull Rd, UF Cultural Plaza, Gainesville, FL 32611-2710.
Map of Things to Do in Gainesville, FL
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