Things to do in Gainesville

Gainesville, Florida

If you are that type of an outdoor adventurer, keen on outdoor activities such as hiking and kayaking…

Gainesville is the Mecca for all outdoor enthusiasts.

You don’t want to wander through the streets of Gainesville with your family without knowing where are you going, do you?

That’s why we’ve listed the best places you can visit in Gainesville to make your stay genuinely worthwhile.


Without further ado:

What kind of travel do you do

  1. Family
  2. Couples
  3. Solo

What are you looking for

  1. Adventure
  2. Nature
  3. Culture
  4. History
  5. Local experience
  6. Food


  1. Free
  2. Cheap
  3. Medium
  4. Expensive

Show only Phillip's favorite things:

  1. Yes
  2. No

Devil's Millhopper Geological State Park

The Geological State Park has been around since the early the 1880s and will leave tourist flabbergasted at the beauty in an unlikely place. In the park, you will find a 120 feet deep oval-shaped cavity that houses a little rainforest. The miniature rainforest has developed over the decades and is an integral part of the Geological Park with lush greenery even in the dry hot summers.

The site is one of a kind as there are various fossils of extinct land animals, marine shells and fossil shark teeth. In the park, you can find interactive displays that will teach you more about the sinkhole and how it was formed.

At Devil’s Millhopper Geological State Park you can also have picnics at the many picnic sites surrounded with lots of trees. Apart from the fossils and picnic area you can also explore the hiking trails that will give you an in-depth understanding of the natural environment in Gainesville.

  • Go on the hiking trail and explore the environment.
  • Get to see the fossils and shark teeth found in the layers of the sinkhole.
  • Have a picnic with the family at the park.

Family Adventure Nature History Free

Curia on the Drag

Situated on a 2.5-acre property the Curia on the Drag has made a name for itself over the years. The delectable establishment has everything you need to satisfy your stomach after a hard day at work. The Curia sets an intimate and relaxed vibe so that you can enjoy their baked goods and lovely deserts.

There will also be time for a bit of shopping on the property. At the AMK market, you will get to buy vintage home goods, clothing, and handmade jewelry.

  • Take a stroll around the 2.5-acre property.
  • Enjoy the intimate setting while indulging in some edibles.
  • Explore the AMK market situated on the property.

Couples Local experience Food Medium

Swamp Head Brewery

If you fancy a cold beer then you have to head down to the Swap Head Brewery. This facility has a lot to offer besides beer. On arrival, you can take a tour of the Brewery and learn how these awesome tasting brews are made. On Tuesdays, you can experience Taco Tuesday with the breweries take on Swamp Head Tacos. There is also a food truck at the facility that will keep your stomach lining healthy as you take in the beers.

  • Explore the brewery and learn more about creating craft beer.
  • Enjoy Taco Tuesdays at the Swamp Head Brewery.
  • Get your Swamp Head Apparel at their shop with beer branding.

Solo Local experience Food Cheap

Matheson History Museum

Traveling throughout Gainesville is a memorable activity that you should experience once in your lifetime. In the city, you will experience a lot of cultural and historic sites. One of the well-known places to visit in Gainesville is the Matheson History Museum that is situated in the heart of historic downtown Gainesville.

The house was built in 1867 and it houses permanent and temporary exhibits on Alachua County and details of the history of Florida.

If you are curious and want to learn more about the culture earlier years of the city you can spend hours in the library and look through the archives or just grab a book related to the Gainesville earlier years.

  • Attend some of the programs held at the Matheson Museum related to local and Florida history.
  • View all the exhibits on the Alachua County and explore the history of Florida.
  • The library is worth a visit as it has many documents and books about the Gainesville area.

Solo History Local experience Cheap

Lubee Bat Conservancy

Bats are commonly misunderstood and people fear them. At the Lubee Bat Conservancy, they want to change people’s views about the bat population. On your holiday visit, we encourage you to visit the conservation center so that you can see how their habitats are being saved through research, conservation, and education.

The conservancy is located on a 110 acre land in the Old Florida district. Lubee has about 200 bats that represent 10 different species. All bats are frugivorous and you will have the opportunity to see the bats feeding patterns.

  • Learn about the research and conservation efforts done by the Lubee Bat Conservancy.
  • Get to view an age-appropriate PPT while you visit the facility.
  • Enjoy the scenes as bats feed on fruit and interact with enrichment devices.

Family Nature Local experience Free

Paynes Prairie

The Paynes Prairie is Florida’s first state reserve and is both biologically and historically beautiful. In the Prairie, you will have the choice of amazing trails like the Gainesville Hawthorne Trail, La Chua Trail. Bolen Buff Trail and Cones Dike Trail.

If you want a longer adventure you can also spend a few nights at the tent camping ground.

In the Prairie wild horses and bison roam free. There are 300 species to view as well as alligator’s deer and many other animals.

  • Choose one of the many hiking trails at the Paynes Prairie.
  • Take on the adventure and camp in tents at the prairie.
  • Get to see wild bison and horses among other animals.

Solo Adventure Nature Cheap

The Thomas Center

The Thomas center was once a private residence before it was converted to a cultural events center for the local and Florida area. The building itself is Mediterranean Revival Style and houses many contemporary art exhibitions as well as historical exhibits.

Concerts at The Thomas Centre are held throughout the year and feature national and international touring artist performing classical, jazz and folk music. There are also special holiday shows and surprise guests from time to time.

  • Marvel at the brilliant Mediterranean Revival Style architecture of the center.
  • View all of the contemporary & historical exhibits.
  • Enjoy some of the live performances by local and international artist.
  • Get to take part in the festive tree lighting ceremony held annually.

Family Culture History Local experience Medium

Bluefield Estate Winery

This winery started in a kitchen by a couple who liked experimenting. Jennifer and Bradley Ferguson use to make their wine from excess blueberries that were left after the harvest on their farm. They, later on, started their winery after encouragement from their friends.

Bluefield specializes in blueberry and muscadine grape wines. They have a wide selection of wines including, blackberry bliss, green apple affair, peachy perfection, and pomegranate passion just to mention a few.

  • Explore the grounds of the winery and relax under a tree.
  • Do some wine tasting and try all their varieties.
  • Learn more about the winemaking process on a tour of the winery.

Couples Local experience Medium

Carson Springs Wildlife Conservation Foundation

The Carson Springs Wildlife Conservation center stands as an inspiration to the communities of Gainesville. It is a non-profit dedicated to the conservation of wild and endangered animals. It is also an education center to teach people about conservation and to contribute to the bettering of the animal kingdom. Some of the animals you can view are the African Lion, tiger, grey fox, and puma just to mention a few.

  • View the various endangered and rare animals.
  • Learn more about conservation and the environment.
  • Be part of a non-profit organization that gives back to the community of Gainesville.

Family Adventure Nature Local experience Medium

Volta Coffee, Tea and Chocolate

Since 2008 Volta has been serving an assortment of specialty coffees, tea, and chocolates. They also serve delicious treats for those of you with a sweet tooth. The Volta also has deserts and pasties on their menu.

  • Taste the different varieties of specialty coffee.
  • The chocolate that they serve are made right in the kitchen, not the powder stuff.
  • They have some of the delicious pastries in Gainesville.

Couples Local experience Food Cheap

Florida Museum of Natural History

The museum is located on the grounds of Florida University. At the museum, you can view various exhibitions that are interactive and fun.

You can take your kids to the new ‘Beverly and Jon Thompson discovery zone’. At the zone, the children can engage in educational materials, like scientific interactive programs with their parents or guardians. There is also life-size touchable objects and various activity stations.

Explore the insect and plant life at the facility in the terrarium and the aquarium. Kids can also hone their drawing skills and create masterpieces at the digital drawing station.

  • Explore the fun and interactive exhibits at the Florida Museum.
  • Entertain your kids at the ‘Beverly and Jon Thompson discovery zone.’
  • Visit the terrarium and the aquarium.
  • Let the kids create their masterpieces at the digital drawing station.

Family Culture History Medium

Samuel P. Harn Museum of Art

The Samuel P. Harn Museum of Art is a traditional institution in Gainesville inspired to enrich and educate peoples’ lives through art. On show at the museum are works that enlighten intrigue and that creates a self-belief that anything is possible. The museum has art collections, exhibitions, and learning opportunities on offer from people all over the globe.

At the Museum of Art, you can explore the various gardens like the Bob and Nancy Magoon Garden that contains water features and multiple sculptures in-between the lily pads. The Asian Rock Garden is also a tourist favorite because it was designed by renowned garden designer Hoichi Kurisu. The weekly Japanese raking done is worth admiring in the garden.

  • View the various exhibition and art collections at the Museum of Art.
  • Explore the gardens as they give you a sense of peace and tranquillity.
  • Take a guided tour and learn about the art scene and upcoming artist in Gainesville.

Family Culture History Local experience Cheap

Blackadder Brewing Company

Chris and Sissy Hart owners of the Blackadder Brewing Company have been serving cold beverages for well over a decade now. They have created award-winning beers and have almost 30 medals collected in homebrew competitions. Earlier this year they won their first professional golden medal at the Best Florida Beer Competition.

Going on a tour of the facility is paramount if you are a beer lover or just want to taste their different varieties of craft beer. On Wednesday around 7 pm you can catch their trivia night that will give you the chance to interact with the locals while honing your memory skills.

There is also a food truck that prepares different theme styled dishes throughout the week.

  • Try some of their award-winning beers like the Cloves but no Cigar, The Jerk Maker, The Pink Rider, and My Blondest Friends.
  • Go on a tour of the facility and see how they brew the craft beer Gainesville style.
  • Be part of the trivia and bingo nights as you meet the lovely people of Gainesville.
  • Taste and overindulge in the prepared dishes served out of the food truck every week.

Solo Local experience Food Cheap

Morningside Nature Center

The Morningside Nature Centre is based on an 1840’s cabin. It is based on the Irish family the McCarrolls who built the cabin (Hogan Cabin). In the cabin, you can find a board and batten kitchen. There is also a barn and a schoolhouse on the property. The heirloom garden and heritage bred farm animals are also something worth looking at.

On the 278 acres, there are about 7 miles of trails you can explore that takes you through various wildflower displays and wildlife like deer, box turtles, wild turkey, skunks, and various bird species all located in the nature center.

The Centre also has a Barnyard Buddies program where you can feed the animals hay or vegetables. The activity is free but donations like carrots, apples, sweet potato, and melons are accepted.

  • Go back in time and see how the McCarroll's family lived in the 1840s.
  • Try out the 7 miles of hiking trails in the Morningside Nature Centre.
  • Be part of the feeding program with Barnyard Buddies.

Family Adventure Nature Medium

University of Florida Bat Houses

The bat houses and bat barns are the largest occupied bat houses in the world. The bat houses are located on the Northside of Museum Road across from Lake Alice on the University of Florida campus. There are viewing points where you can see the bats emerge from their houses.

The display can be viewed daily just after the sunset, however, the temperature must be 65 F or above otherwise the bats won’t make an appearance. Be careful of the falling urine and guano when the bats are flying over you.

  • Explore the bat houses at the University of Florida.
  • View how they emerge from their houses just after dark.
  • The bats can also be viewed during the day while the bats are sleeping.

Family Nature Local experience Free

West End Golf Course for some evening fun

Improve your golf swing while vacationing in Gainesville. The Golf Course has been operational for the past 40 years; it is the only lit executive course and driving range in Gainesville. There are also numerous golfing events held at this location each year.

They are open every day Mon-Sun – 7 am to 10 pm. During wintertime, they only light up 9 holes unless they indicate otherwise.

  • The golf course has been around for 40 years.
  • It is the only lit executive course in Gainesville.
  • Various events are held at the golf course in each ear.

Solo Local experience Expensive

Ginnie Brew Fest

One of the main drawcards in the Gainesville calendar is the Ginnie Brew Fest. The Ginnie location is picturesque and full of wonderful views that set the tone for this awesome event. People and tourists from all over the world come together for this amazing Brew Fest.

The event will bring 20-top breweries from Florida and elsewhere serving unlimited samples of beer, cider, and mead. The festival will have live music and a food truck serving delicious snacks to counter the entire brew you will be taking in.

  • Indulge in an unlimited amount of craft beer from over 20+ brewers.
  • Enjoy the fantastic views from the surrounds of the Ginnie environment.
  • Live music and a food truck will take care of some of the needed necessities.
  • There are also camping facilities on offer if you plan on a longer stay.

Couples Solo Local experience Food Cheap

Newberry Cornfield Halloween Maze

The feeling of fear has always had a strange impact on the human condition and we are drawn to this like a moth to a flame. The Newberry Cornfield Halloween Maze was founded in 2004 and only a corn maze with one hayride.

The maze is fun as you try to make your way out, but as soon as the darkness comes you can expect something of the nocturnal nature waiting for you around every corner.

  • During the day you can take a hayride around the cornfield.
  • There is always an opportunity for you to feed the crows.
  • At night the maze comes alive with nocturnal elements waiting around every corner.
  • There is also a night hayride that takes you on a spooky trail.

Family Adventure Local experience Food Cheap

Gainesville Raceway

If a thrill is what you are seeking on your vacation than the Gainesville Raceway is the perfect place to get that adrenaline rush. The Raceway can accommodate up to 30 000 people and opened its doors in 1969. It is one of the fastest tracts on the NHRA circuit.

It is also on this track that 8 of the 10 national records were set so if speed and a fun time is what you are looking for then be prepared to receive it in abundance.

  • One of the fastest NHRA circuits in the U.S.A.
  • The track has seen 8 out of the national records broken.
  • Various food stalls and entertainment to keep you busy between races.

Family Local experience Food Medium

Rock Cycle Garden

The Rock Cycle Garden is one of a kind exhibit on the Northwest Campus of Santa Fe College. In the rock garden, you will find around 20 boulders that weight thousand of Kilograms. They were accumulated all around the U.S.A. They started the construction of the exhibition in 2003 and opened to the public in 2006.

The rocks are placed in an orderly fashion beginning with Igneous, then Sedimentary, and continuing with Metamorphic and then concluding by bringing you back to the starting point. At the start of the exhibit, you will be greeted with an informational panel explaining the rock cycle and why they are placed in that order.

  • Visit the one of a kind rock garden with boulders that thousands of kilograms.
  • The rocks are placed in an orderly fashion.
  • There is an informational panel at the start of the exhibit.

Family Adventure Nature Free

Sandy’s Savvy Chic Resale Boutique and Urban Thread

Sandy began operating 1987 in a 500-foot store and 32 years later their brand has grown exponentially. They now occupy a 15000 sq foot building and have around 40 employees. It is also Gainesville's largest resale store and perfect for finding that perfect souvenir or bargain to take back home.

The inventory gets updated every hour so there is always something new to see. The store serves both women and men. What makes it even more unique is the fact that there is a sale every day of the year. Some annual events include ‘pack a bag sale’, ‘small business Saturday event’ and the ‘dollar dash.’

  • Explore the massive Sandy’s Boutique for souvenirs and gifts to take home.
  • The inventory gets updated every hour so there is always something new to see.
  • There is a sale every day of the year.
  • Annual events include ‘dollar dash’, ‘pack a bag sale’ and ‘small business Saturday event.’

Family Local experience Food Medium

Roger’s Farm and sweet/sour strawberry

Everyone likes strawberries and picking them yourself makes eating them even sweeter. On the strawberry farm, you will find various activities that will keep you entertained. The annual Fall Festival and Haunted Corn Maze have tourists coming from all around the world to take part.

Some of the activities on the farm include hayrides, slides, pony rides, mini corn maze, big corn maze (haunted after 8 pm), human hamster wheels, mini rock walls and loads of other fun things to do.

There is also a food truck that sells delicious treats and meals to satisfied hungry stomachs.

  • Get a satisfying meal from the food trucks.
  • Pick strawberries and corn while exploring the grounds.
  • Various activities like Corn mazes, hayrides, mini rock wall, and human hamster wheels.


Family Nature Food Cheap

Mill Creek Farm a tranquil paradise

Travelling can be stressful and sometimes full of drama. Finding a peaceful and fulfilling place to spend some time can do wonders for your psyche. The Milk Creek Farm offers the tranquillity and relaxation you desire.

The farm is a retirement home for old horses. They are a non-profit that helps elderly, neglected and abused horses. At the farm, you can see the horses roam free and will be able to spend time with them whilst feeding and taking care of them.

  • Explore the tree line pastures amidst the free-roaming horses.
  • Regenerate your mind in this tranquil oasis.
  • Get to feed and nurture horses at the farm.


Family Nature Local experience Free

Hoggetowne Medieval Faire


The Hoggetowne Faire has been held for the past 33 years and the next one will occur on January 18-19, 25-26, 31 and February 1-2, 2020 so make sure you plan your vacation accordingly.

At the fair over 160 talented artisans showcase their talents and crafts from all over the country. They display and sell a variety of goods like jewelry, stone and wood carvings, and hand-blown glassware and leatherwear among the goods.

While walking through the market and you may start feeling peckish. This is a sign you need to head towards the food court to go dine like a king.

  • Join in on one of the biggest medieval carnivals in the country.
  • The fair has over 160 talented artisans showcasing their arts and crafts.
  • The food is excellent at the stalls fit for a king.


Family Culture Local experience Food Free

Hogtown Craft Beer Festival at Kanapaha Gardens

The sampling of beer is often overlooked because people tend to choose wine tasting as a first resort. Well if you one of those people I suggest you change your plans to go to the Craft Beer Festival at Kanapaha Gardens.

The fest allows you to sample beers from various local, regional and national breweries. There will also be countless food stalls and many of the entrees will have delicious beer samples to pair with it. Designated drivers gain free access to the event. Does wine tasting offer all of that?

  • Taste various beers from local, regional and national breweries.
  • The food is fantastic and paired with a great craft beer to sample.
  • The atmosphere is like a carnival party that gets bigger every year.
  • If you are the designated driver you gain free access to the event.


Solo Local experience Food Medium

The best barbecue at Adam’s Rib Co. Gainesville

There is just something about great food that transcends boundaries and makes you form bonds that last forever. This concept may be too heavy for food but once you taste the food at Adam’s Rib Co. you will know what I’m talking about.

They are especially known for their delicious breakfast meals. But the most popular dish they serve is their perfect BBQ ribs. They have two locations in the south and north for easy access no matter where in the city you find yourself.

  • Enjoy a nice early morning breakfast served at the Adam’s Rib Co.
  • Try out their fantastic BBQ ribs that they are renowned for.
  • They have locations in the north and south for easy accessibility.


Family Local experience Food Medium

Bring a group to Rockeys Dueling Piano Bar downtown

The Rockeys Dueling Piano Bar opened in December 2010. Rockeys are much more than a normal night bar it offers an experience and a fantastic atmosphere that you can only get there.

At the Piano bar, you will get live music, comedy and audience participation events. The celebrations at the Rockeys Dueling Piano Bar can go well into the night. The drinks at the bar are also another drawcard that grabs the hearts of people. demo21 english1

  • Visit one of the trendiest bars in the city.
  • At the Rockeys bar, they have live entertainment, comedy shows, and audience participation events.
  • The cocktails are very popular among locals.


Couples Local experience Food Cheap

Enjoy a nice much at Midnight Cookies

The locally owned, operated and created cookie business is the brainchild of university students. The cookies are baked fresh on request from you and can be ordered via their website.

They have traditional cookies like chocolate chip and oatmeal raisin but they also get creative with their peanut butter with bananas or jelly ranges. They also serve various deserts like banana pudding, strawberry shortcake, and key lime pie just to mention a few.

  • Take a look at the Midnight Cookies operations and see why they are making such a buzz.
  • Sample of their delicious cookies and desserts that are freshly prepared.
  • They have a variety of creative creations like the peanut cookie with bananas and jelly toppings.
  • The cookies can be ordered via their website and collected on your tour of the facility.


Family Local experience Food Cheap

San Felasco Park trails

We seldom get the opportunity to work out when we are on holiday so when a chance presents itselve we should grab it with both hands. Taking a jog or walk through the San Felasco Park will expose you to the lush greenery and also doubles as a morning workout.

At the park, you will also be able to do some bird watching and explore the rich history of the San Felasco reserve.

  • Get the chance to stretch your legs and take a stole through the park.
  • The park has many historic sites that can be viewed along the trails.
  • You can do some bird watching while exploring the trails.


Solo Adventure Nature History Local experience Free

General info Gainesville

Country The United States of America
Capital Washington DC
Language English
Timezone  (GMT-4)
Currency Dollar (USD)
International dialing code +1 352
Electricity Power plugs and sockets are of type A and B. The standard voltage is 120 V and the standard frequency is 60 Hz.
City population of Copenhagen  132,249

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