Whether you live in Florida and are looking to embark on a staycation, or you are coming from another part of the United States, North Central Florida offers a lot of exciting activities.
Gainesville is different from other places in Florida.
Gainesville offers all of the excitement of a college town atmosphere, plus great food options, as well as a plethora of nature activities.
From biking and hiking trails to wild and recovery wildlife in sanctuaries, whether you are a young couple, solo traveler, or family, there is something for everyone. Gainesville, Florida truly offers it all.
1. Bluefield Estate Winery
Are you longing to visit a vineyard and try limited production wines? Lucky for you, you can do this right in Gainesville!
Bluefield Estate Winery is a small family-owned winery with a private vineyard just east of Gainesville.
They grow both blueberries and muscadine grapes that are used in their wine production, but that you can go through and pick them yourself to create a custom blend!
This can be either an adult-only activity or a family event.
Address: 22 County Road 234, Gainesville, FL
2. Swamp Head Brewery
If you are looking for world-class beers in Florida, then head to Swamp Head Brewery.
Not only are all of their beers are made in Florida, by Floridians, but they have traveled all over the world to gain knowledge about the best aspects of beer making.
Because of the fact that Swamp Head was built upon a unique approach to beer making, it will ensure that you will get a taste of something different.
Additionally, they pride themselves on sustainability. Beyond the beer, they take a responsible approach to everything that they do.
Address: 3650 SW 42nd Ave, Gainesville, FL
3. Kika Silva Pla Planetarium
Head to the Kika Silva Pla Planetarium to learn all about the universe and beyond.
With exhibits to learn about the night sky, as well as special showcases, there are plenty of activities to explore.
- SpacePark Show: Takes you on a tour of the cosmos.
- Music 360 Show: With Led Zepplin and Pink Floyd playing in the background, enjoy learning about stars, galaxies, supernovas, and black holes to the beat of your favorite tunes.
If you have never been to a planetarium then this is a must-see while in Gainesville. Simply sit back and relax while you explore the universe.
Address: X-129, 3000 NW 83 St, Gainesville, FL
4. Jungle Friends Primate Sanctuary
If you are interested in viewing animals in an environment other than a Zoo, then Jungle Friends Primate Sanctuary is a great option.
This sanctuary saves New World monkeys and birds that have been retired from laboratory research, as well as pets that have been abandoned, and even illegal monkeys kept as pets that were confiscated by the police.
Jungle Friends is a credible animal sanctuary. They work with a variety of other primate and animal protection organizations.
Committed to education on behalf of all captive non-human primates, Jungle Friends is a great opportunity for adults and children alike to learn while enjoying the company of animals.
Address: 13915 N State Rd 121, Gainesville, FL
5. Lubee Bat Conservancy
Another exciting adventure for the animal lover, The Lubee Bat Conservancy is an internationally renowned home for various bat species.
Most are large fruit bats, often referred to as “flying foxes”.
These bats got their nickname for good reason! They are huge bats with a wingspan of up to 5 or 6 feet. Despite this, they are very docile and extremely cute.
It is the perfect experience to see these creatures that are often not well known due to their nocturnal living habits.
For the adults, there is a beer garden and food trucks to enjoy to make it a full day affair.
Arrange a special tour or volunteer should you so choose. Check it out on a festival day for the full experience!
Address: Northwest 192nd Avenue, Gainesville, FL
6. Florida Museum of Natural History
One of the best options if you are looking for a free activity that allows you to learn about wildlife inside rather than outside. The Florida Museum of Natural History is a great option for all ages.
With more than 40 million specimens and artifacts, you can spend hours indoors having a good time.
View hundreds of exotic, live butterflies in the award-winning “Butterfly Rainforest” exhibit, or witness a South Florida Calusa Indian welcoming ceremony to learn about the original inhabitants of the land you are visiting.
Looking to occupy the kids for a few hours? Check out the “discovery zones”.
Here you can play games and participate in activities to learn and get your hands dirty in the process. Either let them entertain themselves or join them!
Address: 3215 Hull Rd, Gainesville, FL
7. Samuel P. Harn Museum of Art
The Samuel P. Harn Museum of Art is a world-class museum in Gainesville.
With thousands of pieces of art to look at, the best part of this museum is that it is completely free. This makes it great for large groups, or for a rainy day.
With art, history and culture rolled into one, if you need a break from outdoor activities, this is one of the top free activities to do in Gainesville.
Address: 3259 Hull Rd, Gainesville, FL 32611, USA
8. Tu Viện A Nan Buddhist Statue Park
Whether you practice Buddhism, or you are looking to learn about another culture, the A Nan Buddhist Statue is located in southeast Gainesville.
This park features a statue garden with three huge Buddhist statues from Vietnam.
Relax while you walk through the park, sit on their stairs and enjoy solitude, or simply look at the huge statues that reach up to 50 feet high.
You can even host a ceremony, a group class, or a meditation session for groups up to 100.
Address: 2120 SE 15th St, Gainesville, FL
9. Kanapaha Botanical Gardens
Another beautiful outdoor park, the Kanapaha Botanical Gardens is made of 24 major collections.
You can see the largest display of bamboos in the state of Florida, or browse through the largest herb garden in the Southeast USA.
Come during June through September and view the beautiful colors of flowers and leaves. You can also come during the evening in May to experience the Moonlight Walk.
This is when the paths and meadows are covered in laser lights as well as light fixtures, along with a musical accompaniment.
The entire area is both stroller and wheelchair accessible, which makes it an easy option to visit for those of all ages.
Address: 4700 SW 58th Dr, Gainesville, FL
10. Otter Springs Park & Campground
If you are someone that has a love of nature and camping, it takes it one step further at the Otter Springs Park & Campground. 636 acres of land along with a beautiful natural spring that maintains a year-round temperature of 73 degrees.
Enjoy jumping into the spring, or follow it to the nearby Suwannee River.
Nature-lovers rejoice, with fishing, bird watching, biking, hiking, and swimming.
There are even indoor activities at the Little Otter Club, with a gym, foosball, horseshoes, card games, a pool, and more.
The Otter Springs Park is perfect for nature lovers, families, couples, or for some alone time solitude with the natural world.
Address: 6470 SW 80th Ave, Trenton, FL
11. San Felasco Hammock Preserve State Park
With very little remaining natural forests in Florida, the San Felasco Hammock Preserve State Park is one of the last of its kind.
Come here to view many different species of trees, along with a variety of different animals such as:
- White-tailed deer
Looking for adventure? With hiking, off-road bicycle trails, horseback riding trails, and more, there are a variety of fun activities awaiting you.
Address: 11101 Millhopper Rd, Gainesville, FL
12. Devil’s Den Pre-Historic Spring
Less than a 30-minute drive outside of Gainesville, the Devil’s Den Spring is located in Williston, Florida.
Devil’s Den is a pre-historic spring that is one of the most exciting scuba diving spots in the United States.
Year-round the temperatures of the waters are 72 degrees. You will be able to dive into clear water that is surrounded by beautiful ancient stalactites. If you are not a diver there is no issue, as you can snorkel as well to see these ancient fossil beds.
After enjoying the ancient spring either drive back to Gainesville or stay in either the cabins, camp or stay in the RV park on the property.
Address: 5390 NE 180 Ave, Williston, FL
13. Meadowbrook Golf Club
Many people come from all over to golf in Florida, but instead of a typical Florida golf course, Meadowbrook Golf Club is exciting and new.
With various rolling hills, trees lining the fairways, and streams running through the course, you will never have experienced anything like it before.
Only 10 minutes from downtown Gainesville, you have the option between 18 different courses. Additionally, there is a FootGolf option.
This is a combination of soccer and golf and is a fun and new way to combine two sports…Only in Florida!
Address: 3200 NW 98 St, Gainesville, FL
14. Gainesville Food Tour
Most people that visit Gainesville believe that all there is to see is pizza and other chains, but this is not the case.
With various options for food, learn a bit of history while enjoying good grub on the Gainesville Food Tour.
With three hours of walking on the food tour, you will try many different types of food at over five restaurants. Great for all ages who are comfortable with walking for three hours.
15. David’s Real Pit BBQ
Known as Gainesville’s best BBQ, David’s Real Pit BBQ has been serving up true Floridian BBQ since 1988.
With famous fall off the bone ribs, smoky, succulent pulled pork, and incredible sides, there is everything you could want.
Voted Best BBQ and Ribs in Gainesville’s Where the Locals Eat and best food at the Greater Gainesville Beer Festival, this is a staple in North Central Florida!
This is a restaurant you must stop in to while visiting Gainesville.
Address: 521 NE 23rd Ave, Gainesville, FL
16. Downtown Gainesville
If you are looking for a break from nature and instead prefer retail therapy, then Downtown Gainesville is the perfect place to visit.
Enjoy activities such as:
- Old-fashioned movie theater
- Shopping center
- Amazing restaurants
- Farmer’s market
- Live theatre shows
- Piano bar
Although it is not where you will want to spend the entirety of your Gainesville vacation, it is a wonderful place to start or end your trip.
17. West University Avenue
Similar to Downtown Gainesville, West University Avenue provides a haven of shops, bars, restaurants, gyms, and even a movie theatre.
As the best area for nightlife in Gainesville, you will be sure to find a good time on the weekends.
Although it’s not vegas, any young professional travelers or college students will be sure to have a good time on West University Avenue.
Grab your dancing shoes and make your way to West Uni Ave!
18. Ben Hill Griffin Stadium
One of the largest stadiums in Flordia, the Ben Hill Griffin Stadium is one of the largest in Florida. With 90,000 seats, it is known best for the annual Gator Growl event.
Every year, the University of Florida hosts a homecoming event called the Gator Growl.
Otherwise, throughout the year there are celebrity guest appearances, college bowls, concerts, and many other events that occur at this famous stadium.
Address: 157 Gale Lemerand Dr, Gainesville, FL
Plan Your Trip to Gainesville
Whether you have a business trip that lands you in Gainesville, or you plan to take a trip there with the family, there are many options to have a fun and safe time.
Regardless of your vacation style, choose between free activities, and full out camping options, for any day of the year. Any trip to Gainesville can be filled with exciting activities.
Plan your trip to Gainesville today for a vacation of the year in Central Florida.