Best Things to do in Gainesville, Florida


Introduction

Gainesville is the home of the University of Florida, which means there are plenty of things to do here, from attending sporting events to visiting museums, and even some great places to eat! Here are our top picks for things to do in Gainesville, Florida:

  • University of Florida
  • The Bat Houses
  • Florida Museum
  • Carson Springs Wildlife Foundation
  • Satchel’s Pizza
  • Kanapaha Botanical Gardens
  • Devil’s Millhopper
  • Geological State Park

For great deals on even more things that you can eat, see, and do in Gainesville, and the surrounding areas, be sure to check out Groupon: https://www.anrdoezrs.net/click-100656272-15230314?url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.groupon.com%2Flocal%2Fthings-to-do

Be sure also to check out our BEST DEALS AND ATTRACTION TICKETS page for a full list of the best prices on all of the top Florida theme parks and attractions.

THE BEST BANG FOR YOUR BUCK! Check out this fantastic list of Florida attraction passes to get the most out of your Florida trips for the least amount of money!

Best Things to eat, see, and do in Gainesville, Florida

University of Florida

The University of Florida is the largest university in the state, with over 50,000 students. It’s also one of the top universities in America and is the largest employer in Gainesville. The school has more than 250 academic programs that are offered through 13 colleges and schools.

The Gators have a number of sports teams with facilities that include an indoor football practice facility, baseball stadium and softball field as well as an aquatics center with two pools (one for diving). The Ben Hill Griffin football stadium has a seating capacity of 88,548. The University of Florida athletic program has produced some fantastic star athletes throughout the years including Emmit Smith, Steve Spurier, and Time Tebow to name a few.


The Bat Houses

We only include this one second because it sort of logically follows the University of Florida. Located on the UF campus is a set of three bat houses. These bat houses contain about half a million bats making them one of the most populated bat houses in the world! It may sound strange, but it’s actually pretty incredible to see.

When the weather is warm (and it typically is in Florida), the bats will begin to emerge from their houses right around sunset. I never knew that I needed to see giant swarms of bats in the twilight sky, but I was wrong. We were surprised by how many people turned out for the event the night that we visited.

There’s a whole history of these bat houses on the UF campus which is interesting to read about, and my assumption is that the university keeps them around for insect and mosquito control.

Florida Museum of Natural History | Gainesville, Florida

Florida Museum

The Florida Museum of Natural History is a great place to visit if you’re interested in learning about the natural world. The museum has an array of exhibits including a butterfly house, planetarium, and science center. The children’s Discovery Zone was Vivian’s favorite place to explore during our visit there, which contained numerous hands-on exhibits for children to learn about fossils, insects, archeology, and fish.

The remaining exhibits emphasize the history of Florida, including the culture of indigenous people groups, and also the topography and resulting ecological systems throughout the state’s various regions.

The museum is free; however there may be additional fees for certain activities such as planetarium shows or entrance into the butterfly house (depending on day/time).

Carson Springs Wildlife Conservation Foundation | Gainesville, Florida

Carson Springs Wildlife Conservation Foundation

Carson Springs Wildlife Conservation Foundation is a wildlife sanctuary and education center located in Gainesville, Florida. It is open to the public for guided tours and educational programs. Group tours are available on the weekends and private tours are available throughout the week for a cost. All tours must be booked in advance on their website (https://carsonsprings.com).

Animal encounters are available for additional purchase, and are based on animal availability since animals are not bred at the facility for human interaction.

While we were there, we were given the opportunity to pet lemurs, and feed numerous animals including pigs, turtles, and an Indian rhino named Henry, who is the oldest-living, male Indian rhino in the entire world.


Satchel’s Pizza

I realize that this is the only restaurant on the list, but Satchel’s Pizza was such a special place that we just had to include it–not only as a place to eat–but as a thing to do! This fun restaurant offers a variety of pizzas, which were delicious, by the way, but it’s so much more than that!

At this quirky pizzeria, you will find an absurd setting (we actually had a challenging time finding the hostess stand to begin with, and we observed that other newcomers did as well). There’s an airplane hanging out of the second story of one of the buildings, but you have to walk through the greenhouse dining area to get there. Another dining area is an old conversion van in the front of the restaurant. Every wall and every corner has something interesting to observe. We enjoyed dining in a room surrounded by beautiful stained glass windows, for example.

There’s a toy store and a playground, and you look at the dessert menu through a View Finder.

Kanapaha Botanical Gardens

Kanapaha Botanical Gardens is home to 24 collections of flowers and plants. Some highlights for us were the vinery, the woodland forest trail, the herb garden, the hummingbird garden, and the rock gardens to name a few.

In the Oriental Garden area, there is a bridge over a stream where you can feed koi fish. The most fascinating plants in this section have to be the water lily Victoria amazonica which adorn the surface of the water. Their giant platter-like leaves expand up to seven to ten feet in diameter! They’re pretty incredible.

If you have children, then they will love the children’s garden which contains playground equipment and some fun activities which you can do together as a family including a giant chess board, and a boxwood maze.


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Devil’s Millhopper Geological State Park

If you’re looking for more of a natural experience, check out Devil’s Millhopper Geological State Park. The park name pretty much gives away what to expect here: a steep sinkhole that empties into a series of caves and underground pools. This is one of the few places in Florida where you can see such rare geological formations, as well as catch stunning views of nearby lakes and forests.

For those who want to learn more about this wild place, there are several hiking trails that wind through the area. If you’re less physically inclined (and don’t mind getting wet), take advantage of the park’s tram tour—it delivers visitors right into the heart of this natural wonderland with ease!

Santa Fe College Teaching Zoo

This small zoo is the only zoo in the state operated by a college. While it is set on about 10 acres of land, it actually contains over 200 animals representing more than 75 species. There are numerous birds, but our favorite were the various kinds of monkeys.

Most importantly, to our family, there was a playground in the middle of the zoo, and we all know how important that can be when you have small children.

Conclusion

Gainesville is the perfect place to get away from it all. Whether you’re looking to explore nature or simply enjoy some time away from the city, this city has something for everyone. And with so many things to do in Gainesville, Florida it can be hard knowing where to start! That’s why we’ve compiled this list of fun activities that everyone will enjoy no matter what your interests may be.

For great deals on even more things that you can eat, see, and do in Gainesville, and the surrounding areas, be sure to check out Groupon: https://www.anrdoezrs.net/click-100656272-15230314?url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.groupon.com%2Flocal%2Fthings-to-do

Be sure also to check out our BEST DEALS AND ATTRACTION TICKETS page for a full list of the best prices on all of the top Florida theme parks and attractions.

THE BEST BANG FOR YOUR BUCK! Check out this fantastic list of Florida attraction passes to get the most out of your Florida trips for the least amount of money!

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