10 Things To Do in Gainesville, FL

June 26th, 2023

10 Things To Do in Gainesville, FL

Things To Do in Gainesville

What are the best things to do in Gainesville, FL? Here are the ten top things to do in Gainesville! 

As the largest city in North Central Florida, Gainesville is a lively and vibrant college town that is best known for its historic buildings, natural surroundings, beautiful landscaping, public parks, museums, and endless entertainment options. Recognized as the home of the University of Florida, which is one of the largest and oldest universities in the state, Gainesville is a wonderful place to call home for college students, young professionals, and families. 

Offering a low cost of living and many housing options, it is no wonder that so many people are deciding to move to Gainesville. From award-winning restaurants to local shops, there are more ways than one to explore this popular Florida city. No matter how you like to spend your time, Gainesville has many activities available that all ages can enjoy. 

Whether searching for something fun to do with the whole family, planning your next date night with a loved one, or figuring out how to spend your next vacation in the area, Gainesville provides endless opportunities for adventure and excitement. If you are interested in learning more about how to spend your time when in Gainesville, here are some fun things to do that are worth checking out. 

Here are the best things to do in Gainesville

Florida Museum of Natural History 

Location: 3215 Hull Road 

Hours: 10 AM to 5 PM Monday - Saturday, 1 PM to 5 PM Sunday

Phone Number: (352) 846-2000

The Florida Museum of Natural History at the University of Florida in Gainesville inspires people of all ages through its many diverse indoor and outdoor exhibits. Considered to be one of the largest and fastest-growing natural history museums in Florida, more than 40 million specimens and cultural artifacts are found here. 

As the official state-sponsored and charted national history museum, visitors can experience eight permanent exhibits, including the Butterfly Rainforest and the Discovery Zone, on top of temporary exhibitions. Recognized as one of the top natural history museums in the nation, this is the place to bring the whole family for a day of fun and discovery. Also perfect for youth field trips and self-guided adult groups, there are more ways than one to plan your visit. 

Featuring events throughout the year, make sure to visit the museum calendar for information about upcoming kid and family-friendly events. General admission to the museum for permanent exhibits is free, making this a sought-after thing to do when in the city. 

Butterfly Rainforest at the Florida Museum of Natural History 

Location: 3215 Hull Road 

Hours: 10 AM to 5 PM Monday - Saturday, 1 PM to 5 PM Sunday

Phone Number: (352) 846-2000

The Butterfly Rainforest at the Florida Museum of Natural History is one of the top permanent exhibits offered. Home to hundreds of beautiful butterflies that fly freely, birds from around the world, turtles, fish, and tropical plants, this must-see exhibit is perfect for nature lovers. 

Home to more than 50 butterfly and moth species at any given time, this 6,400-square-foot screened exhibit creates a natural environment for the butterflies and plants to thrive and flourish. Not only is this a very educational experience for the whole family to enjoy, but the staff is friendly, and admission is only $14 for adults, $12.50 for Florida residents and college students, $12.50 for seniors, and $7.50 for kids. 

Beautiful monarch butterfly sitting on a purple flower

Devil's Millhopper Geological State Park 

Location: 4732 Millhopper Road 

Hours: 8 AM to sundown daily 

Phone Number: (352) 955-2008

Visit Devil's Millhopper Geological State Park for a day full of excitement and adventure. This state park in Gainesville is found northwest of the University of Florida. It is a National Natural Landmark that has been attracting residents and tourists to the area since the 1880s. 

This spectacular park features a 120-foot-deep bowl-shaped cavity leading to a mini rainforest. This unique geologic formation is simply breathtaking, featuring small waterfalls, thick foliage, a sinkhole that was formed when the limestone underneath it collapsed, and plenty of hiking opportunities. 

Many prehistoric archeological artifacts have been found here, which have taught researchers much about the land and the natural history of Florida itself. Arrowheads, fossil shark teeth, fossilized remains of extinct animals, and marine shells have all been found at this state park. 

Known to be pet-friendly and featuring parking for $4 per vehicle, a visitor center, an interpretive exhibit, restroom facilities, and handicap-accessible amenities, Devil's Millhopper Geological State Park is truly a unique experience. 

Sweetwater Wetlands Park

Location: 325 SW Williston Road 

Hours: 7 AM to sunset daily 

Phone Number: (352) 554-5871 

If you are searching for a place to connect with nature and enjoy your surroundings, then make sure to check out Sweetwater Wetlands Park in Alachua County. This nature preserve, and wetlands habitat spans 125 acres and is home to numerous animals, including alligators, birds, and butterflies. As one of the best birding sites in the area, there are more than 255 bird species that call Sweetwater Wetlands Park home. 

Featuring more than 3.5 miles of gravel trails and boardwalks, this is a great place to walk and run when the weather is nice. Visitors can take advantage of viewing platforms and educational signs along the trails and learn more about the habitat. Please keep in mind that pets, biking, camping, driving cars on the trail, and horseback riding are not allowed. 

trees and walking trail at Sweetwater Wetlands Park

University of Florida 

Location: Gainesville, Florida 

Phone Number: (352) 392-3261

Considered one of the best universities in the state and the nation, the University of Florida is a leading public land grant research university with a graduation rate of 88% and an acceptance rate of 30%. Operating from its Gainesville campus since 1906, the University of Florida is a large institution with an undergraduate enrollment of over 34,000 students. 

Recognized as a leader in academic excellence in person and online, this top-rated institution offers more than 300 undergraduate and graduate degree options to choose from. This accredited university has a faculty-student ratio of 17 to one and a retention rate of 96.7%. Creating more than 10,000 jobs in Florida and contributing more than $7.83 billion toward the state economy, this university's impact on the surrounding area is excellent. 

The Century Tower at the University of Florida

Ben Hill Griffin Stadium

Location: 157 Gale Lemerand Drive 

Hours: 7 AM to 8 PM 

Phone Number: (352) 375-4683

Ben Hill Griffin Stadium is the football stadium at the University of Florida and is the home of the Florida Gators football team. Also known as "The Swamp," the stadium was initially constructed in 1930 and is considered the largest football stadium in Florida and the loudest in the country since it has a seating capacity of 88,548. 

As the second-largest sports facility in the state behind the Daytona International Speedway, many people visit the stadium to watch a game or to run or walk up the stairs for a good workout. Notorious for its high heat and humidity, opposing teams find that playing at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium is difficult. Due to this high heat and humidity, the infamous sports drink Gatorade was invented here in 1965. 

Harn Museum of Art 

Location: 3259 Hull Road 

Hours: 10 AM to 5 PM Tuesday - Saturday, 1 PM to 5 PM Sunday, closed Monday

Phone Number: (352) 392-9826

Located at the University of Florida in Gainesville, the Harn Museum of Art in the southwest part of campus welcomes visitors of all ages to its 108,800-square-foot facility. Featuring a total of 10 gallery spaces and traveling exhibits that rotate frequently, this is one of the largest art museums in the southern United States. 

First opened in 1990, current works on display include photography, paintings, video, drawings, textiles, sculpture, and beadwork that are African, Asian, and modern and contemporary art pieces. Offering free admission to its exhibits and programs, visiting this museum is a fun and accessible activity. 

Also home to gardens, exterior spaces, and programs, there are more ways than one to enjoy this art museum. Providing lectures and talks by artists, films, performances, classes, workshops, and museum nights on the second Thursday of every month, there is always something new and exciting to explore at the Harn Museum of Art. 

Kanapaha Botanical Gardens 

Location: Summer House, 4700 SW 58th Drive 

Hours: 9 AM to 5 PM Friday - Wednesday, closed Thursday 

Phone Number: (352) 372-4981

Visit the Kanapaha Botanical Gardens for a relaxing day among beautiful plants and flowers. Great for wedding ceremonies, gatherings, and retreats, this 68-acre nonprofit botanical garden operated by the North Florida Botanical Society is home to 24 major collections and gardens. Best known for having the largest display of bamboo in the state and the most extensive herb garden in the southeast, Kanapaha is a must-visit. 

Offering gorgeous blooms and colors from June to September, this botanical garden is perfect for picnics and hanging out on the lawn areas. Hosting multiple special events throughout the year, including the Spring Garden Festival and a bamboo sale, visiting Kanapaha is excellent for all ages. 

Providing $10 admission for adults, $5 for ages five to 13, and free for children under five, having fun does not have to be expensive. Keep in mind that dogs are allowed on non-event days as long as they are vaccinated and on a non-retractable leash. Volunteers are always welcome.

Swamp Head Brewery 

Location: 3650 SW 42nd Avenue 

Hours: 3 PM to 10 PM Tuesday - Thursday, 12 PM to 11 PM Friday - Saturday, 11 AM to 7 PM Sunday, closed Monday

Phone Number: (352) 505-3035

Swamp Head Brewery is the place to be for craft beer and good times. This award-winning local brewhouse offers weekly tours of its facilities and a lively taproom with a great atmosphere and food trucks. Founded in 2008, there are both year-round and seasonal beers to choose from. 

Glasses of beer lined up on a table

Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park 

Location: 100 Savannah Blvd 

Hours: 8 AM to 8:45 PM daily

Phone Number: (352) 466-3397

Considered a U.S. National Landmark, Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park is home to wild-roaming bison, horses, alligators, deer, and over 300 species of birds. Located in Alachua County, this 21,000-acre savanna is the first state preserve in Florida and is one of the most unique places to visit in the state. This state park is a great place to fish, camp, and enjoy nature, providing up to eight hiking trails and an observation tower. 

Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park aerial view


Here are some common questions about the best things to do in Gainesville. 

What is Gainesville, Florida, best known for? 

Considered one of the best places to live in Florida and one of the cheapest places to live in Florida, Gainesville is well known for its history and picturesque beauty. 

Is Gainesville, Florida, worth visiting? 

Gainesville is definitely worth the visit for its many fun activities and entertainment options, interesting museums, world-class shopping, beautiful state parks, and hip breweries. 

How far is Gainesville from the beach? 

Located near many beautiful beaches, the closest beach near Gainesville is Crescent Beach, about an hour and a half drive away. 

Is Gainesville a party town? 

Referred to as a lively college town, Gainsville has plenty of fun things to do and offers many entertainment and nightlife options downtown and throughout the city. 

Best Things To Do in Gainesville - Final Thoughts 

Gainesville is home to plenty of fun things to do all year long. Offering endless amounts of outdoor and indoor activities, residents and locals alike are always entertained. If you are moving to Florida and are ready to call Gainesville home, reach out to one of our friendly Realty Specialists to help you along your home search. Our team at UpHomes is prepared to answer any questions. Please feel free to contact us today.

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Ryan Fitzgerald

Ryan Fitzgerald

Hi there! My name is Ryan Fitzgerald, and I am a REALTOR®. My goal is to help you learn more about real estate through our Real Estate Blog! Hopefully, you enjoyed the above blog post and it found a way to provide help or value to you. When you're ready to buy or sell a home of your own let us know here. Please feel free to join the conversation by dropping us a comment below.

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