Gainesville Things to Do

  • Things to Do
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    The bottom of the devils millhopper
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  • entrance to morningside nature center
    entrance to morningside nature center
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Most Recent Things to Do in Gainesville

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    Wild Bill's Airboard tours and Wild Life Preserve

    by tampa_shawn Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    This is actually about 50 miles south of Gainsville in Inverness.

    This is a thrilling ride that takes you down the WITHLACOOCHEE RIVER AND
    THROUGH THE SWAMPS LOOKING FOR THE FLORIDA ALLIGATOR!

    Our river ride is just one of many custom adventures we offer, its a slow speed tour through the vast unspoiled wilderness of the Withlacoochee River wetlands. Our boats will seat a large or small group.

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    Florida Museum of Natural History

    by tampa_shawn Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    The tenth largest natural history museum in the US and IT IS FREE!

    Florida’s official natural history museum is located on the University of Florida campus. It houses 21 million specimens of amphibians, birds, butterflies, fish, mammals, mollusks, reptiles, and fossils, and 4 million cultural artifacts.

    The museum also does research, preservation, and interpretation of biological diversity and cultural heritage. Visitors can see some of the research being conducted. For instance, there are many glass windows through which you can view butterflies and moths being raised and researched in vitro, as well as mounting and cataloging of butterflies and moths from around the world.

    The main attractions of the museum are free but there is a charge for some of the temporary exhibits. These charges are normally under $8 and are so the museum can recoop their costs

    Permanent exhibits include:
    • Florida Fossils: Evolution of Life & Land
    • Northwest Florida: Waterways & Wildlife
    • South Florida People & Environments
    • Butterfly Rainforest: Where Science Takes Flight

    Make sure you go to the butterfly garden next door (buy a combo pass to save $)

    General Admission is free, although donations are gladly accepted. There is a cover charge for special exhibits and the Butterfly Rainforest. This museum normally has special exhibits

    Florida Residents and college students get discounts off the paid exhibits so be sure to show your ID

    Expect to be here 4 hours

    Memberships are ALWAYS a good idea.

    Student Membership for the butterfly exhibit is $25 ($10 is tax deductable), Individual membership is $50 - note only includes discounts to butterfly garden

    See below for the Passport program (free admission to other museums - a great deal)

    http://www.flmnh.ufl.edu/membership/ASTC_May2008-Oct2008.pdf

    Florida Eco-system Museum Staff doing a lecture Florida Fish

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    Santa Fe Teaching Zoo

    by tampa_shawn Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    This is a wonderful 12 acres teaching zoo that is part of the Sante Fe College. This is the only accredited teaching zoo in the United States and most of the graduates go on to work at Disney's Wild Kingdom.

    Students in the program (called Zooies) provide a guided tour that takes about 1 1/2 to 2 hours. The tours are designed to give visitors a more educational and enjoyable experience and to give zoo students more experience working with the general public.

    The Santa Fe Teaching Zoo houses 80 species of animals and approx 250 individual animals from around the world. Animals include gibbons, lemurs, American bald eagles, Galapagos tortoises, parrots, and Matschie’s tree kangaroos.

    Hours: Saturdays and Sundays 9a-2p,
    tour starts every 30 minutes, or by appointment.
    Closed during semester breaks and holidays.

    Admission: $4 adults 13-59;
    $3 children 4-12.
    Admission is free to students of the Sante Fe College

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    ben hill griffin stadium

    by doug48 Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    ben hill griffin stadium, also known as florida field and the "swamp" is home to the florida gators football team. the university of florida football program has won the NCAA national championship in 1996, 2006 and 2008. a note to tourists traveling through the gainesville on football weekends all of the hotels in the area are booked up months in advance of these events.

    ben hill griffin stadium
    Related to:
    • Historical Travel
    • Architecture
    • Adventure Travel

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    florida museum of natural history

    by doug48 Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    this interesting museum has a collection of prehistoric fossils. in the entrance lobby is a american mastodon and a columbian mammoth both found in north florida. currently on display through january 6th 2008 is the jaw of a megalodon, the largest known shark in the world. you can also visit the butterfly rainforest next to the museum. a great place to take children when in gainesville.

    florida museum of natural history
    Related to:
    • Historical Travel
    • Travel with Pets
    • Museum Visits

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    Butterfly Rainforest

    by justluckie Updated Aug 25, 2009

    We had a blast going here probably would have stayed for hours if it wasn't so hot in the butterfly house. It was fun more for us than our 5 yr old she got bored after the first 20 minutes. I loved watching all the butterflies and having them land on us. We will be going back to this the cost wasn't bad and if you have a museum membership it is free to get in.

    Butterflies eating butterfly handler releasing butterflies
    Related to:
    • Photography
    • Family Travel
    • Budget Travel

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    stephen o'connel center

    by doug48 Updated Dec 3, 2008

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    stephen 0'connel center also known as the o-dome is home to the university of florida basketball team. the florida basketball team made the NCAA final four in 1994 and 1996. the university of florida won the NCAA national championships back to back in 2006 and 2007.

    stephen o'connel center
    Related to:
    • Historical Travel
    • Architecture
    • Adventure Travel

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    Go for a Bike Ride

    by tampa_shawn Written Sep 18, 2008

    I have traveled around the world and I don't think I've ever seen a town that is more bike friendly.

    This town has bike trails and bike lanes EVERYWHERE. I also noticed a large number to bike racks...so bring your bike and a good lock and explore the area on bike. If I lived here I'd be using my bike instead of my car

    Map my ride....Gainesville locals map out their favorite area bike rides
    http://www.mapmyride.com/find-ride/united-states/fl/gainesville

    Here are some of my favorite bike trails....see the websites below each link for more information

    One of the paved prettiest bike rides is down 441 are the Paynes Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park Trails
    http://www.dep.state.fl.us/gwt/guide/regions/north/trails/paynes_prairie.htm

    Another great ride is Gainesville - Hawthorne Rail Trail, Florida which is 16 miles and has bathrooms around the route
    http://outdoortravels.com/biking_fl_overview_gains-hawth.html

    There are also a large number of off-road trails (especially 45 minutes south in Ocala)
    http://www.geocities.com/yosemite/falls/3939/gainesville.html

    Note the wide bike lane here on the UF campus Bike lanes & bike signage even in the city itself

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    The Retirement Home for Horses

    by tampa_shawn Written Sep 18, 2008

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    Mary and Peter Gregory created this haven for old, abused and abandoned horses in 1984.
    Mill Creek Farm gives them the chance to live their last years in peace and tranquility.

    Visiting hours
    Saturdays ONLY
    11 a.m - 3 p.m.

    As a not-for-profit organization, Retirement Home for Horses, Inc. depends solely on the contributions of individuals.

    Admission: 2 carrots! (but a 5 lb bag is preferred)

    Alachua is in North Central Florida, just a few miles north of Gainesville (home of the University of Florida).

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    Bike or Take a Drive Down 441

    by tampa_shawn Written Sep 18, 2008

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    US Route 441 between Gainesville and Ocala is part of the Florida Scenic Hwy program and its a drive you won't forget. In fact if you are a bicyclist or biker I'd suggest doing this route on a bike. There are bike trails for most of the route and its a great area for biking.

    During this short drive you will pass the beautiful Paynes Prairie, the enchanting city of Micanopy (make a short detour) and another great little town called McIntosh.

    My favorite part of the ride is through what is called the the southern mansions and the horse farms. This area is the horse capital of the world for a reason and you'll be amazed at the huge regal southern horse farms surrounded by white fences and with adorable immaculate horse barns (these are nicer than most people's houses)

    My Suggestions - Spend the entire day making this drive
    Be sure to stop at the following locations

    1) Paynes Prairie outlook - free

    2) Paynes Prairie Park - $4 a car. If you are here in the summer come early to avoid the heat. There are some great little walks here. Be sure to visit the visitors center and watch the video (free)

    3) Stop at the city of Micanopy for lunch and some shopping - be sure to spend some time walking the streets and getting to know the locals. Stop at the Micanopy museum ($2)

    4) Stop at a few of the more scenic areas to take pictures - Macintosh is a great place to stop

    5) Stop at a roadside vendor for a Coke and a bag of boiled peanuts ~ note the peanuts the vendors sell are very salty so you'll need the Coke

    6) Once you make it to Ocala you can take a horse drawn carriage tour of the area -
    http://www.ocalacarriage.com/ (352) 867-8717. info@ocalacarriage.com

    http://www.ocalacarriage.com/

    The land PP overlook A bag of peanuts

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    Visit the Enchanting town of Micanopy

    by tampa_shawn Updated Sep 18, 2008

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    Micanopy pronounced (Mick-can-oh'-pee), is often called "The little town that time forgot."
    Spending a day (or weekend here) will transport you back to another time...where things move slow and southern hospitality is king

    Micanopy is the second oldest settlement in Florida and the oldest inland settlement in Florida It is so cute its been featured in movies...like Doc Hollywood

    In addition to the old building and the majestic oaks and magnolia there is also an eclectic array of antique shops and a few cute little restaurants. I could easily have spent the entire day here and plan on going back soon. Spend your day walking the quaint little shops, go antique shopping, and visiting with the locals. Oh and don't forget your camera.

    If your interested in a romantic weekend I'd make a weekend out of it. Be sure to get a room at the Herlong Mansion bed and breakfast.
    http://www.herlong.com/

    Micanopy was voted "Best Antique Shopping" town and Paynes Prairie was voted "Best Place to View Alligators" by readers of Florida Magazine in 2006.

    Church Museum Herlong Mansion bed and breakfast take a walk

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    Micanopy Historical Society Museum

    by tampa_shawn Updated Sep 16, 2008

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    A quaint little museum that does a wonderful job of painting a picture of what life was like in early Micanopy (the second oldest European settlement in Florida). Various displays provide information on the area's settlement, the Indians, harvesting turpentine and day-to-day life in the area (laundry, mail, getting mail, naval stores, beauty shops...).

    The museum is quite nice but the real treat here are the museum's volunteers who are a font of information and knowledge. Charles H was volunteering during our visit and he did an amazing job at making us feel welcome and provided some great information about the European Settlement and later history of the area.

    Museum Hours:
    * Daily 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm
    * Donation of $2.00 suggested

    Doc Hollywood was filmed here

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    Butterfly Rainforest

    by tampa_shawn Updated Sep 16, 2008

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    An absolutely magical place the setting is beautiful and you won't believe all the butterflies! I spent hours here and really and truly could have spent more! Be sure to bring your camera!

    Be sure to come for the butterfly release (where the newly "hatched" butterflies are released into the terrarium). The website (below) provides an up to date listing of the times. We were there on Saturday afternoon and butterflies were released about every hour. The staff who released the butterflies gave some great information. Although I must say that the staff here were wonderful and kept on stopping buy and giving me more information.

    There is an attached museum with all sorts of information on butterflies and an overwhelming display of various preserved butterflies from around the world. Be sure to look at the hatching area and the labs and storage areas.

    Note this exhibit is part of the Florida Museum of Natural History and next to the Han Museum of Art - so you can attend all at the same time.

    Also remember to check the website (below) for special events (like the butterfly migration and the butterfly release) these are GREAT

    Hours: Monday - Saturday 10a-5p; Sunday 1p-5p. Closed Thanksgiving and Christmas.

    Parking

    Reserved parking for museum visitors - excluding University holidays - is $3 per day (cash only), 8:45 a.m. - 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday. The reserved parking area is immediately east and north of the Harn Museum of Art in the UF Cultural Plaza. Please see attendant in gated booth.

    Parking is free on weekends and State holidays.

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    What to do in Alachua County

    by tampa_shawn Updated Sep 16, 2008

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    Gaineville is in Alachua County and there is SOOOOOO much to do here.

    This is the best resource I found for the area is below...is from the Alachua County Visitors and Convention Bureau (see Website below)

    Things to do in the local area (that I haven't written about yet)

    Note the website (below) provides links to all of these websites (and potential activities)
    I'll be adding more tips...as I get to visit these places

    Museums
    + Archer Railroad Museum
    + Hawthorne Museum
    + Matheson Museum
    + Micanopy Museum
    + University Galleries

    Historic Sites
    + Dudley Farm State Park
    + Haile Homestead
    + Marjorie Rawlings State Park
    + Thomas Center

    Nature
    + Bivens Arm
    + Devil's Millhopper
    + Dog Wood Dog Park
    + Gainesville-Hawthorne Trail
    + Greathouse Butterfly Farm
    + Kanapaha Gardens
    + Mill Creek Farm
    + Morningside Nature Center
    + Poe Springs Park
    + San Felasco Hammock

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    UF bat house

    by tampa_shawn Updated Sep 16, 2008

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    The University of Florida has bat houses that are pretty amazing. Come around sunset off of Museum Rd on the University of Florida Campus (at the University Agricultural Gardens)

    There is a good chance there will be a of people just hanging out alongside a wooden fence to see the 100,000 bats flying out of the Bat House and over the heads of the assembled "bat groupies"! Join the fun!

    The area bat area is across the street from a lovely lake equipped with picnic tables. My recommendation would be to pick up a bucket of chicken and sit across the street waiting for the bats to start leaving the "house" and head across the street for pictures

    They are Brazilian Free-tailed Bats and are insect eaters (a very good thing to be in Florida) and to have next to gardens (which is where the bat house is located(

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