Explore Gainesville

Students are back, classes are in progress and umbrellas are likely found in everyone’s backpack. This can only mean one thing: Fall semester is underway!

Brand new Gators, Gators new to campus and seasoned Gators alike can take advantage of the opportunities Gainesville has to offer. Take some time to explore the community! To help you get started, we’ve rounded up several Gainesville experiences to try out with friends! Use the links below to jump to that section of this page. Some of these excursions may require an entrance fee. Click on the heading of each one to learn more.

Campus Locations | Nature Parks | Local Museums | Fun and Sun

Campus Locations

Animal Sciences Walking Trail

The SW 23rd Terrace Trail is an excellent place for walking, running, cycling and skating. The trail connects Archer Road and Williston Road and passes the UF Beef Teaching Unit (BTU), a fully operational cattle facility in the middle of Gainesville. The BTU is part of the UF/IFAS Department of Animal Sciences, and provides hands-on training to students enrolled in the Animal Sciences program. Along the trail, you can find informational signs about the BTU and the Florida beef industry. The signs are changed periodically, so check back to learn something new!

Walk the trail at SW 23rd St Gainesville, FL 32608

University of Florida Bat Houses

The two UF Bat Barns and Bat House are the world’s largest occupied bat houses. Watch more than 450,000 bats emerge from their bat houses during a 15-20 minute time period right after sunset before total darkness on warm, calm evenings.

Visit the bat houses at 2656 Museum Rd, Gainesville, FL 32607

Ben Hill Griffin Stadium

Commonly known as “The Swamp,” Ben Hill Griffin Stadium is the place to be for Gator football games, but it can be visited outside of game times! Open daily from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. (with some exceptions), many students, faculty, staff and members of the community visit The Swamp for a workout, study spot or just to take a few photos. Hours are subject to change, so visit the Ben Hill Griffin Stadium Facebook page for the most current open hours.

Visit the stadium at 121 Gale Lemerand Drive, Gainesville, FL 32611

Game Room in the Reitz Union

Located in the Reitz Union, the Game Room offers bowling, foosball, billiards and more. The Game Room is open to the community and may have altered hours and availability due to COVID-19.

Visit the Game Room at 686 Museum Rd, Ground Level Gainesville, FL 32611

Nature Parks

Sweetwater Wetlands Park

With more than 125 acres of wetlands and ponds, this park was created to improve the water quality of wetlands in Paynes Prairie and the Floridan Aquifer. There are more than 3.5 miles of walking gravel trails and boardwalks to enjoy the plants and animals such as birds, butterflies and alligators.

Visit the park at 325 SW Williston Road Gainesville, FL 32608

La Chua Trail

La Chua Trail is a three-mile trail (round-trip) within Paynes Prairie where visitors may see wildlife, such as alligators and migratory sandhill cranes. This trail is known as one of the best places to see gators in Gainesville.

Visit the park at 270 SE 15th St, Gainesville, FL 32641

Devil’s Millhopper Geological State Park

Known as a National Natural Landmark, this state park has sandy terrain and pine forests and, at the bottom of a 120 feet deep bowl-shaped cavity, visitors can see a miniature rain forest. A small stream trickles down the slopes of the limestone sinkhole which allows lush vegetation to grow and thrive. Devil’s Millhopper has picnic areas and is pet friendly!

Visit the park at 4732 Millhopper Rd Gainesville, FL 32653

Kanapaha Botanical Gardens

Kanapaha Botanical Gardens has walking trails to explore the 25 collections in the garden. The collections include the largest herb garden in the Southeast and Florida’s largest display of bamboos. The gardens are pet friendly, have benches and spaces to relax and occasionally have live music.

Visit the park at 4700 SW 58th Dr, Gainesville, FL 32608

Local Museums

Samuel P. Harn Museum of Art

The Harn Museum of Art is a nice way to spend an afternoon without leaving campus. Free of charge, people of all ages can enjoy diverse art collections, exhibitions and learning opportunities.

Visit the museum at SW 34th Street and Hull Road, Gainesville, FL 32611

Butterfly Rainforest

Walk through the lush 6,400 square-foot open area and examine the 60-80 species of butterflies. Visitors can experience free-flying butterflies and birds while exploring a typical tropical environment for tropical trees and flowering plants.

Visit the butterfly rainforest at 215 Hull Road Gainesville, FL 32611-2710

Florida Museum of Natural History

Located on the University of Florida campus, walk through exhibits to learn about Florida’s early history and see a large mammal collection, Florida fossils and more. The museum also has limited-time-only exhibits that change throughout the year. Admission is free.

Visit the museum at 3215 Hull Road Gainesville, FL 32611-2710

Cade Museum for Creativity and Innovation

Named after the UF professor who invented Gatorade, Robert Cade, this museum offers hands-on learning labs, innovative exhibits and activities to spark creativity for both children and adults. The mission of the museum is rooted in inspiring and equipping future inventors, entrepreneurs and visionaries.

Visit the museum at 811 South Main Street, Gainesville, FL 32601

Fun and Sun

Santa Fe College Teaching Zoo

Visit the 10-acre zoo, the only zoo on a college campus accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. The zoo is home to over 70 different species of animals such as Bald Eagles, monkeys and kangaroos.

Visit the zoo at 3000 NW 83rd St, Gainesville, FL 32606

Florida Springs

Enjoy a look into Florida’s ecosystems by visiting one of the Florida Springs. The water is 68-72°F year round and offers guests a chance to see Florida wildlife such as manatees, birds and more. Visit the springs to swim, tube or kayak — no two springs are the same!

Depot Park

Located in downtown Gainesville, Depot Park offers walking paths and open green spaces to relax. Be sure to check the event listing because the park offers concerts, food trucks and other local events. The park is pet friendly and even has a children’s play area!

Visit the park at 874 SE 4th Street Gainesville, FL 32601


Posted: September 1, 2021

Category: UF/IFAS Teaching
Tags: Explore, Gainesville, Things To Do

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