Gainesville Things to Do

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Best Rated Things to Do in Gainesville

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    Harn Museum of Art - FREE

    by Basaic Written Jan 14, 2015

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    The Harn Museum of Art is located on the University of Florida Campus near the Florida Museum of Natural History and the Phillips Center for the Performing Arts. The museum houses an impressive collection of various forms of art with great examples of art from Latin America, Asia, and Africa. Several permanent displays and some rotating exhibits. The building itself is very nice and artistic too. Hours are 11 AM to 5 PM Tuesday through Friday; 10 AM to 5 PM on Saturday and 1 PM to 5 PM on Sunday. Closed Mondays. Admission is free; but donations are appreciated.

    Harn Museum of Art Inside Inside
    Related to:
    • Family Travel
    • Museum Visits
    • Arts and Culture

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    Veterans Memorials

    by Basaic Written Jan 14, 2015

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    There are a few Veterans Memorials in various parts of town like this one that honors all military veterans and one on the grounds of the old courthouse which honors veterans of the Civil War. I feel it is important to remember the sacrifices made by our veterans and their contributions to our freedom and our way of life.

    Veterans Memorial Civil War Veterans Memorial Civil War Veterans Memorial
    Related to:
    • Historical Travel
    • Family Travel
    • Road Trip

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    Bo Diddley Plaza Concerts - FREE

    by Basaic Written Jan 14, 2015

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    Bo Diddley Plaza is a community gathering place located in the center of the historic downtown area. The plaza is used as a farmer's market and gathering place for a variety of social and church organizations throughout Gainesville. There are free concerts and other entertainment venues held in Bo Diddley Plaza from 8 PM to 10 PM each Friday from May through October. Note, however, that during the day the plaza is a favorite hangout for the town's homeless who will sometimes follow you asking for money.

    Bo Diddley Plaza
    Related to:
    • Family Travel
    • Festivals
    • Music

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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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    Florida Museum of Natural History

    by Basaic Written Jan 14, 2015

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    The Florida Museum of Natural History is but one of the fine museums located in Gainesville. This is the official state-sponsored natural history museum for the state of Florida and it is quite nice. The museum has nine permanent exhibits a number of rotating exhibits and outdoor areas to explore too. Hours are 10 AM to 5 PM Monday through Saturday and 1 PM to 5 PM on Sunday. General Admission is free but there is a fee for some exhibits like the Butterfly Garden which is $10.50.

    Florida Museum of Natural History
    Related to:
    • Family Travel
    • Eco-Tourism
    • Museum Visits

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    Matheson Museum - FREE (But)

    by Basaic Written Jan 14, 2015

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    The Matheson Museum combines an historic museum, the Tison Tool Museum, the historic Matheson House and Sweetwater Park. The historic museum is housed in the old American Legion building which was completed in 1932, and houses some very interesting displays concerning the pre-history and early history of the area. The Matheson House is part of the Matheson Homestead which dates from 1857. The current home is believed to include much of the original home. The home was completed in 1867 for James Douglas Matheson, a prominent businessman. The home then went to his son, Chris, a state legislator, minister, and mayor of Gainesville from 1910 to 1917. Sweetwater Park is kind of a combination botanical garden and historic walk with informative signs.

    Hours for the museum are: 9:30 AM to 3:30 PM Monday through Thursday. The Matheson House and the Tison Tool Museum are open by appointment only.

    Admission is free; but a donation of $5 for the museum and house are "suggested".

    Matheson Museum Matheson Museum 2 Matheson House
    Related to:
    • Historical Travel
    • Museum Visits
    • Family Travel

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    Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park

    by tampa_shawn Written Sep 12, 2008

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    Nature Trail at Paynes Prairie

    Paynes Prairie is biologically, geologically, and historically unique. This park became Florida´s first state preserve in 1971 and is now designated as a National Natural Landmark. Noted artist and naturalist William Bartram called it the great Alachua Savannah when he wrote about his visit to the prairie in 1774.

    Over 20 distinct biological communities provide a rich array of habitats for wildlife, including alligators, bison, wild horses, and over 270 species of birds. Exhibits and an audio-visual program at the visitor center explain the area´s natural and cultural history. A 50-foot-high observation tower near the visitor center provides a panoramic view of the preserve.

    Eight trails provide opportunities for hiking, horseback riding, and bicycling. Ranger-led activities are offered on weekends, November through April. Fishing on Lake Wauberg is allowed and a boat ramp provides access for canoes and boats with electric motors. Gasoline powered boats are not allowed. Full-facility campsites are available for overnight visitors. Located on U.S. 441, 10 miles south of Gainesville.
    Hours of Operation

    Florida state parks are open from 8 a.m. until sundown 365 days a year.

    Admission Fees - $4.00/vehicle (up to 8 passengers). Single Car Occupant - $3.00
    Motorcycle Fee (one or two persons) - $3.00
    Pedestrians, bicyclists, extra passengers, passengers in vehicles with a holder of an Annual Individual Entrance permit - Admission Fee $1.00 per person.

    Camping Fees - $15.00 per night

    Picnic Pavilion - A 65 person picnic pavilion can be reserved for $30.00 plus tax.

    Group Camping - Camping fee is $4.00 for each person with a minimum fee of $20.00 per night, plus tax. Equestrian fee is $10.00 for both horse and rider.

    I am of course am a huge fan of Annual Passes -- For an annual pass to ALL Florida state parks see http://www.floridastateparks.org/annualpass/default.cfm

    Individual Entrance: $43.40 each
    Family Entrance: $85.80 each

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    Butterfly Rainforest

    by tampa_shawn Updated Sep 16, 2008

    2.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    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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    Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings House and Farm Yard

    by tampa_shawn Written Sep 12, 2008

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    This site was the home of Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, the author of many major literary works, including The Yearling, which received the 1939 Pulitzer Prize for fiction, the novels South Moon Under, and Golden Apples, and her memoir, Cross Creek.

    The Rawlings house also is a notable example of the Cracker (descendents of pioneer settlers) style of architecture, derived from a variety of influences to suit the climate and available technology of the rural South.

    Additional information on the National Historic Landmark program can be found on the NPS website at History & Cluture

    open daily from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

    Guided walks through the Rawlings' home are offered on Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays at 10:00 a.m., 11:00 a.m. and 1:00, 2:00, 3:00, and 4:00 p.m. from October through July.

    When exploring the house...remember it's the 1930s and we are not air-conditioned or heated, so dress for the weather.

    This is a 1930s Florida farm farm life and shows where Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings lived and worked. She lived in this cracker style home and farm for 25 years

    There are also nature trails and the park rangers giving the tours are in costume!

    Guided tours of the Rawlings' house are offered Thursdays through Sundays, October through July (except for Christmas and Thanksgiving) at 10:00 a.m., 11:00 a.m. and 1:00, 2:00, 3:00, and 4:00 p.m. Tours at the park begin at the barn, walk through the farmyard and then through the historic house.

    The park is open daily from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

    Admission Fees - $2.00/vehicle

    Guided Tours of the Rawling's house: Adults - $3.00 per person
    Children - 6 to 12 years of age, $2.00 per person
    Children under 6 years of age are free.

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    University of Florida Harn Museum of Art

    by tampa_shawn Updated Sep 13, 2008

    2.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    This museum has an impressive collection of African Art, as well as ancient american, pre-columbian and contemporary art and photography.

    It is located on the University of Florida Campus across from the Natural History Museum

    They also offer films, lecture series, workshops and performances

    Also has a nice gift shop

    In fact if you are visiting the UF Natural History Museum you will be parking in the art museum parking lot (free parking on weekends)

    Entrance to the Museum is FREE

    Closed Monday
    Tues to Friday 11 AM to 5 PM
    Sunday 1 PM to 5 PM

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    Planetarium of Santa Fe College

    by tampa_shawn Updated Sep 16, 2008

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    The Kika Silva Pla Planetarium seats 64 guests beneath a 34 ft Spitz dome, and has two state of the art planetarium projectors

    The planetarium has a wide variety of different shows some of which include a live concerts

    Shows, prices and time vary so please see the website. Many of the shows are free to Sante Fe Students

    When I was here there were shows on Friday at 7 and 10 PM and Saturday at 3, 5, 7 and 10PM

    I've listed a few of the adult oriented shows above (note there are also children oriented shows):

    "Southern Nights" - learn some everyday astronomy and how to identify planets and consolations in the current night skies of North Central Florida. These presentations will also include some mythology from cultures all over the world. No two shows are identical! [60 min] All Ages

    "Night Spirits: Native American Star Lore" - explores some modern Native American culture, Native American history, and ancient Native American astronomical knowledge, before concluding with some Native American Storytelling about the stars under one of the most realistic night sky star projectors in the world. [75 min]

    "Rock on Demand" Vol. 1 and 2 - is an entertainment music show (not a planetarium show) featuring bands like Pink Floyd, Aerosmith, Rush, Metallica and many others, combined with outstanding computer animations which fill the entire dome, surrounding you with an experience which you won't soon forget!

    PLANETARIUM SHOWS

    Adults (ages 13 - 59)...............$4.00
    Seniors (ages 60+)..................$3.00
    Children (ages 4 - 12)..............$3.00
    Children (ages 0-3)...................Free
    With SFC ID Card..................Free

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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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    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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    Devils Den

    by tampa_shawn Written Sep 12, 2008

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    This is an underground cave that has a swimming pool like cave. It is GREAT for hot summer days.

    Features crystal clear water, year round 72 degree temperatures, ancient rock formations with stalactites, fossil beds, and much more. Bring a picnic!

    Hours of Operation
    Monday - Thursday 9:00am - 6:00pm
    Friday - Sunday 8:00am - 6:00pm

    Last diver in the water by 4:30PM
    Dive site gates close at 5:30

    General Admission: $9.00
    (snorkelers and swimmers)
    Childern age 2 and under are free

    Dive Fees: $35.00 (including tax)
    Night Dive: $15.00

    What it has:
    Full Dive Shop
    Full Dive Equipment Rentals
    For use of dive training to include cavern diving
    Air fills
    Volleyball court and
    games
    Bath houses with tiled hot showers
    Gazebos with picnic tables and bar-b-que grills
    Cabin rentals
    Camping
    Fishing
    Swimming in our heated pool
    R.V. sites with full hookups
    Adjacent Stellina Resort offers horseback riding

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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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