32 Best & Fun Things to Do in Gainesville (FL)

Gainesville is a city in the Northern part of Florida and is a hive of exciting and amazing things to do.

Although Gainesville looks like a sleepy country, don’t be deceived, once you start exploring this town, especially downtown you’ll be surprised with the amount of fun you’ll have that you might want to stay forever.

There are many tourist attraction spots in Gainesville like the University of Florida, the Florida Museum of Natural History, and the Bat Houses that ensure you have the best and most fun time in Florida.

There are also tourist attractions sites just outside Gainesville cities like the Devil’s Millhopper State Park and the Morningside Nature Center.

This guide explores the 32 best and most fun things to do in Gainesville to make your vacation the best it can be.

32 Best and Fun Things to Do in Gainesville

1. Florida Museum of Natural History

A visit to the Florida Museum of Natural History in Gainesville should be on your list of the best things to do during your stay in Gainesville.

 The Florida Museum of Natural History can be found at the University of Florida and it’s one of Gainesville’s attraction sites.

You’ll see artworks like the Butterfly Rainforest, the Florida Fossils Collection, and Our Energy Future exhibits displayed in the museum.

You can also take your children to the children’s discovery zone which offers educational supervised fun.

Entrance to the museum is free and it’s free for permanent exhibits but you can make donations towards it.

Although on special events where temporary exhibits are displayed, you might have to pay a small entrance fee.

2. Kanapaha Botanical Gardens

The Kanapacha Botanical Garden has the largest herb garden and display of bamboo in the whole of Florida.

The garden has over 24 horticultural collections which add to the beauty of this place.

You can relax in this garden on the benches and gazebos, shielded from the sun, or take a stroll through the garden.

You can also visit during any of the special events like the Spring Garden Festival in March, the fall plant sale, and the orchid shows are other annual events held in the Garden.

If you like to be close to nature, then a visit to Gainesville’s beautiful Kanapaha Botanical should be added to your checklist of the best things to do in Gainesville.

3. The Cade Museum for Creativity and Invention

The Cade Museum for Creativity and Invention is an open establishment created to inspire the minds of people.

Since its establishment, The Cade Museum for Creativity has been offering training and educational programs to people.

These programs include the Early Entrepreneurs Program and the Living Inventor Series.

You can participate in the weekly trips hosted by the museum where you’ll get to do exciting things such as building a robot from scratch in a laboratory.

You can bring your children here too for an amazing experience during your vacation in Gainesville.

 4. Kika Silva Pla Planetarium

If you love space, the universe, and stars then ensure you add Kika Silva Pla Planetarium to your list of fun things to do in Gainesville.

You can attend any of the Planetarium shows which include star shows, night shows, Music 360 shows, and Space Park shows which will keep you engaged.

You can bring your children and loved ones here to have fun when you are in Gainesville.

5. Santa Fe College Teaching Zoo

The Santa Fe College Teaching Zoo has more than 75 animal species with over 200 students attending.

You can visit this Zoo at any time to see exotic and endemic animals you may have never seen before.

You can also throw a party or picnic for your children in this Zoo.

If you are visiting Gainesville with children, then this should be on your checklist of the fun things to do in Gainesville.

6. Haile Homestead

Halie Homestead is one of Gainesville’s historical attractions and it’s located on the Kanapaha Cotton Plantation.

Walking into the Halie Homestead feels like traveling into the past.

You’ll observe the amazing craftsmanship and materials used in making the home spectacular.

You’ll also see the Talking Walls in the home telling the story of the Hailes and their slaves.

You can partake in the house tours on Saturday and Sunday by making an appointment with the tour guide.

7. Swamp Head Brewery

The Swamp Head Brewery makes one of the finest beers in the whole of Florida since 2008 using only locally sourced ingredients.

You can stop here to drink the best-brewed beer and eat when you get tired of strolling the streets of Gainesville.

 You can also visit during the weekly tours offered by the brewery on Tuesdays, Saturdays, and Sundays, and buy a souvenir drink from the company.

8. Ichetucknee Springs State Park

While making a list of things to do in Gainesville, you should add a visit to the Ichetucknee Springs State Park. 

The park protects the headspring of the Ichetucknee River and is suitable for outdoor activities.

You can engage in fun activities like picnicking, wildlife watching, swimming, kayaking, canoeing, snorkeling, scuba diving, and hiking.

You can also spot wildlife animals and birds in the Park roaming freely.

Taking a hike in this park is definitely among the fun things to do in Gainesville.

9. Carson Springs Wildlife Conservation Foundation.

 The Carson Springs Wildlife Conservation Foundation is among the fun things to do in Gainesville with your children.

This Wildlife Foundation is a sanctuary for an extraordinary collection of rescued animals.

Most of the animals in this Wildlife were once traumatized, abandoned, or lost and the foundation has become their home where they are shown love and care.

You can partake in educational tours hosted by the foundation on training in wildlife conservation for a small fee. 

And the funds gotten from these educational tours are used in providing for these animals.

10. The Devil’s Millhopper Geological State Park

The Devil’s Millhopper Geological State Park is the most historical and geological park located outside of Gainesville.

This Park is a giant sinkhole surrounded by Sandy and dry terrain and it’s one of the tourist attractions sites you should visit.

You can see the miniature rainforest around it and you can take a half-mile hike around the sinkhole perimeter before descending on a boardwalk.

You should go to Devil’s Millhopper Geological State Park when you visit Gainesville, and you can participate in their ranger guide tour. 

11. Lubee Bat Conservancy

The Lubee Bats Conservancy is an establishment that takes an effort to ensure that species of bats are preserved and the habitats protected.

This Conservancy also hosts educational tours to teach people about the benefits of preserving and protecting bats and their habitats.

You can attend any of these interesting and educational tours or the October festival hosted by the Conservancy.

Visit this Conservancy to learn more about bats and their habitats during your stay in Gainesville.

12. Matheson History Museum

The Matheson History Museum is at the center of Gainesville and it showcases the history of Gainesville and Alachua County.

The museum has bookshops showcasing interesting books about the history of this region.

You’ll find permanent and temporary exhibits displayed in the museum including illustrated gazettes, photographs, the re-creation of the Matheson Country Store, and a large collection of thousands of historical postcards of Florida.

When you visit Gainesville, you can come to the museum and explore at your pace or follow the guided tour.

13. Morningside Nature Center

To escape the city noise, you can visit the Morningside Nature Centre in Gainesville.

Morningside Nature Centre covers over 260 acres of pine savannah and it has good walking and hiking trails.

You can explore these trails by yourself by just following the marks and signs or you can take a guided tour.

You’ll also find the Living History Farm which is a collection of farm buildings and animals. 

This nature center should be on your list of fun things to do in Gainesville.

14. University of Florida Bat House

For bat lovers, Now, The Bat House is located at the University of Florida and is the largest bat house in the world.

This Bat House has several species of bats that you can watch during twilight as they come out to eat and exercise.

You can visit this Bat House to study the behavior of bats, especially during spring and summer. 

A visit to this Bat House should be on your list of things to do in Gainesville.

 15. Blackadder Brewing Company

The Blackwater Brewing Company offers the best locally crafted beer in downtown Gainesville.

You can visit here to taste this beer during themed evenings or competitions held by the company.

You can visit the company’s website for information regarding the events held in Gainesville.

16. Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park

An alternative to the museum and cultural attractions in Gainesville is the Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park.

Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park has diverse habitats for animals and it’s the perfect natural spot.

You can visit the visitor center in the park to understand the significance of the different habitats with the help of the audiovisual guide.

You can also climb the 50-foot observation tower to have an overview of the park.

You can engage in fun activities like riding bicycles, walking, fishing, horseback riding, and hiking on the park’s various trails.

 17. The Thomas Center

 The Thomas Center is a cultural event center where historical exhibits, art exhibits, and musical events are staged. 

You can take a tour of this center with an audio guide to see the period rooms and lovely gardens.

You should also attend events held at this center like the Family Jest Fest and the Jewel Box concert. 

This center will add to your experience in Gainesville making it an unforgettable experience.

18. Loosey’s Downtown Gainesville

Loosey’s Downtown Gainesville offers food services that surely make you feel like a local, born and bred in Gainesville.

They serve varieties of beers crafted in the US and food cooked with local ingredients. 

You can visit here and order their special dishes like Two-Bite Tacos, fried shrimp seafood, or mac’n’cheese.

19. Mix N Mingle Fun Bike Tour

You can join the Mix N Mingle Fun Bike Tour for a pedal party around Gainesville.

You can join this 2 hours tour from University avenue on a sixteen-seater cycle with onboard music and drinks available.

You and the rest of the group can stop at various pubs and restaurants for rest and refreshments on the way.

This should be on your list of fun things to do in Gainesville.

 20. Simons Nightclub

The Simons Nightclub is in downtown Gainesville and it’s Gainesville’s best nightspot.

You’ll love the club’s interior decoration, dance floor, lighting, and DJ that make the place come to life.

You should visit during regular events like Social Saturdays, Glowrage fluorescent parties, and Freestyle Fridays.

This should be on your list of things to do in Gainesville at night.

 21. Ironwood Golf

The Ironwood Golf Course is located at the edge of Downtown Gainesville and it’s an eighteen-hole public golf course with a beautiful landscape.

This Golf Course is aimed at reducing the negative impact golfing activities have on the environment.

You can visit this golf course for free if you know how to play golf.

A visit here should be on your checklist of fun things to do in Gainesville.

22. Gainesville Artisan Guild Gallery

This list of best things to do in Gainesville is not complete without a visit to Gainesville Artisan Guild Gallery to see the best artworks.

Gainesville Artisan Guild Gallery is a popular attraction site in Gainesville, especially among art lovers.

You’ll see artworks from over fifty artisans and some of these arts are handmade pottery, jewelry, glassware, hand-printed textiles, and paintings.

You can also attend the major art show called the Artwalk Gainesville where there is a display of arts, a scavenger hunt, and a live band performance.

23. Loblolly Woods Nature Park

Loblolly Pines Nature Park covers over 150 acres of land and is filled with forest trees.

Loblolly Woods Nature Park is located on the border of Gainesville and is one of the most visited parks in Gainesville because it has so many trails and a water body beside it.

You can join others to hike or cycle along these trails, along the waters, or you can head deeper into the wood.

When you visit Gainesville, make sure to come here, and don’t forget to wear decent walking shoes.

24. The Actor’s Warehouse

The Actor’s Warehouse is Gainesville’s community theater that hosts artworks that are themed on multicultural and diverse social experiences.

You can visit here to watch good dramas that can transform your mindset.

A visit here is an unforgettable experience, so you’ll need to add this warehouse to your checklist of places to visit in Gainesville.

25. Bluefield Estate Winery

When you have explored all the cultural attractions in Gainesville, ensure you visit Bluefield Estate Winery.

You can visit to taste request the fruit-inspired wines made by the couple, Bradley and Jennifer Ferguson.

You can also visit their tasting room to taste and also to buy some of the delicious wines.

26. Volta Coffe, Tea, and Chocolate

Volta Coffe, Tea, and Chocolate is a special beverage shop that serves delicious chocolate, coffee, and tea in Gainesville.

They offer varieties of coffee gotten Java, Brazil, Rwanda, Bolivia, and other parts of the world.

27. Curia on the Drag

This is a special place in Gainsville for vegans and vegetarians.

Curia on the Drag makes the most delicious and nutritious vegan and vegetarian food in Gainsville, Florida.

Even if you prefer meats, you’d be tempted by this food to try out the vegan option.

You can also order wine, coffee, sandwiches, and beer at reasonable prices.

28. 6th Street Rail Trail

You’ll have more fun touring Gainesville’s urban and park areas on a bicycle than trekking.

You can hire a bicycle from the Zagster bike share scheme and cycle on the 6th Street Rail Trail

This Rail Trail is a combination of country and urban environments.

This should be added to your list of fun things to do in Gainesville as it will give you a good view of this city.  

29. Steamers

Steamers is a unique restaurant that serves the most colorful, delicious food in Gainesville.

If you love good food, then a visit here should be on your list of what to do in Gainesville.

They serve Asian-inspired food and vegan food options.

You can order exciting dishes like the Tofu Curry and the Steamer’s Original Loose Meat Burger. 

Steamers also have a small stage and a large patio furnished with cable drums and tables for hosting open mic evenings and live music.

30. Samuel P.Harn Museum of Art 

Samuel P. Harn Museum of Art is located at the University of Florida and it’s one of the best art museums in the world.

It has eleven galleries of superb art collected from around the world. 

Taking a tour around this museum, you’ll see over 9,000 individual works displayed in several galleries throughout the museum.

You can also find artworks in the pavilion, terrace garden, and museum’s cafeteria.

You can visit the sculpture garden and Asain rock garden right outside the art museum.

 31. Curtis M Philips Centre for Performing Arts.

One of the best places to visit in Gainesville is Curtis M Philips Centre for Performing Arts. 

The Curtis M Philips Centre for Performing Arts is a theater that has over 1700 seating capacity.

The theatre has played host to some big-budget events like Swan Lake, the Chieftains, and other international stars who have performed orchestra in this theater.

 32. Union Street Station

Union Street Station is a residential and office building that offers the best residential spots in Gainesville. 

The ground floor of the building is full of shops, great eateries, and cafes giving this area a cosmopolitan look. 

You can stop by any of these cafes or restaurants for lunch or dinner during your stay in Gainesville.

Planning A Trip To Gainesville

Gainesville is a nice, quiet, beautiful vacation city with parks, museums, and art galleries.

There are a lot of fun things to do during your visit here from Sculptures, to beaches, to hotels, and markets, you’ll love your stay here.

Start planning a trip now and you can use this guide in getting the best vacation in Gainesville, Florida.

Have a great day.

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