“Is Gainesville worth visiting?” Well, it might not be your first choice while planning a trip to North Florida, but the home to the University of Florida offers a unique experience in its own way.
Located about 70 miles from Jacksonville, the largest city in Florida, Gainesville has gained popularity worldwide thanks to being the home of Florida University.
Being a lively college town it should come as no surprise that there are plenty of things to keep you occupied, from great food to lively nightlife, but there’s much more to the town than an atmosphere buzzing with young and lively crowds of the University.
Let’s explore the reasons that make this small and lively town worth visiting and why you should definitely add it to your bucket list!
Is Gainesville Worth Visiting?
Florida Museum of Natural History
A visit to the home of the University of Florida would be incomplete without exploring one of the main attractions in the town- The Florida Museum of Natural History.
The Sunshine State is bestowed with spectacular and diverse natural resources and is a melting pot of diverse cultures, and the Florida Museum of Natural History reflects that diversity.
The museum features diverse exhibits ranging from fossils of dinosaurs to coral reefs. There are also several exhibits on the state’s unique ecology and some of the most endangered species in the US and the world.
One of the most surreal experiences of visiting the museum is the opportunity to interact with some of the animals at the museum and learn about these beautiful creatures hands-on from an expert.
Apart from its diverse and fascinating exhibits the museum also features exhibits on Native American culture and traditions and their importance in shaping Florida’s history.
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The Harn Museum of Art
Being the hometown of one of the country’s major universities with young and energetic crowds and fascinating history, the Harn Museum of Art reflects the significance of art throughout the history of Florida.
The museum is world-renowned for its traditional, contemporary, and modern art exhibits.
There is a wide variety of artwork on display from paintings, sculptures, and photography to antique jewelry from the colonial era.
There are amazing educational programs that you can partake in especially if you are an art connoisseur including workshops, lectures, and fun art classes.
If you are looking to spend a great afternoon in the town and learn more about Florida’s rich history through art exhibits then the Harn Museum of Art is definitely worth a visit.
Devil’s Millhopper Geological State Park
Gainesville might not have the pristine white sand beaches and azure blue waters that Florida is famed for, but it surely boasts of many unique natural wonders Florida is known for.
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The Devil’s Millhopper Geological State Park boasts one such natural wonder that will leave you in awe of the Sunshine State’s gifted natural beauty.
This park boasts one of the most unique natural wonders you would have ever witnessed in your life. The park is home to a 120 feet deep and 500 feet wide giant sinkhole located right in the heart of the town that is surrounded by a lush green landscape.
Moss and ferns lined this giant sinkhole with a small waterfall that flows into the bottom of the sinkhole.
What makes visiting this park more surreal is that you can take a walk down the sinkhole itself and feel amazed at its sheer size and the surrounding beauty.
There are stairs that lead down into the darkness, and as you descend you can feel the temperature change and smell the earthy dampness of the air.
It is well and truly the most amazing and unique experience to be in such a strange and wonderful place, and I would highly recommend it to anyone who has the chance to visit.
Ichetucknee Springs State Park
Florida is home to 700 natural springs, the largest anywhere on the earth. Each natural spring is unique in its own way and Ichetucknee Springs State Park features one such unique spring.
The spring boasts immaculate crystal-blue water that is so clear and blue that it feels like a piece of sky has fallen down on earth.
The park is a great park to enjoy tubing, swimming, canoeing, and kayaking. As you flow down the stream, you can enjoy the spectacular scenery abounding the spring. It’s truly an unforgettable experience.
And the best part, if you are an outdoor enthusiast, is that there are several hiking trails, picnic areas, and also a butterfly garden with butterflies of all sizes, shapes, and vivid colors.
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Matheson History Museum
The Matheson History Museum is one of the most underrated and hidden gems in Gainesville, Florida.
Tucked quietly away on a downtown side street, the museum is housed in a beautiful old building and is easy to miss. But once you step inside its premises you would be rewarded with a fascinating glimpse into the town’s past.
The museum is home to an extensive collection of artifacts from the early days of Gainesville when it was a frontier town.
From Native American arrowheads to Civil War memorabilia, the exhibits offer a fascinating look at the city’s history.
The museum also features rotating exhibitions of local art and photography. And best of all, admission is free!
Lake Alice is one of the many beautiful lakes in Gainesville, Florida. Stretching over 100 acres, the lake is a popular spot for fishing, swimming, and boating. The lake is a great place to pack a picnic lunch and spend hours swimming and playing games on the shore with your family.
If you are a fishing enthusiast and want to spend a great day with plenty of activities to enjoy along with fishing for you and your family, then Lake Alice is the place to be.
Grab your fishing rod and head to the dock waiting to catch a Musky, Panfish, Largemouth Bass, Smallmouth Bass, Northern Pike, or Walleye that are found abundantly in the lake.
There are enough shady spots and picnic areas for you to relax and enjoy the views after you are done with a day of fishing on the dock.
If you’re ever in Gainesville, Florida, be sure to check out Lake Alice. It’s a great place to enjoy nature and create wonderful memories.
Kanapaha Botanical Gardens
Kanapaha Botanical Gardens is one of the main attractions of not just Gainesville but of all of Florida.
The gardens are home to over 24,000 different plants, including a wide variety of native and exotic species. The grounds are beautiful and well-maintained, and there is always something in bloom.
You will especially enjoy strolling through the butterfly garden, where colorful butterflies flit among the flowers.
The gardens also feature a large pond filled with koi fish, a bamboo forest, and a children’s garden. Whether you’re a gardener or just a nature lover, Kanapaha Botanical Gardens is definitely worth a visit.