Gainesville, Florida Attractions

Gainesville, Florida Attractions
Gainsville, Florida is a potent mix of natural beauty and college-town chaos. It is so versatile, that you might spend a quiet day on horseback and a night in a bar full of screaming football fanatics. It's also a town full of activities in the sun --- and the early afternoon monsoon. If the heat doesn't trap you into the air-conditioned retreat of a hotel room or college bar, then there is plenty for you to do outdoors.

The Swamp

Gainesville is a die-hard college football town, and almost everyone owns a favorite Gators football t-shirt. Any resident will tell you that no trip to the city would be complete without a trip to The Swamp --- home to the University of Florida's Gators football team. It's open almost year-round and visitors can hike up to the top of the stadium for a view of the sprawling campus.

Ben Hill Griffin Stadium (The Swamp)
University Avenue & Gale Lemerand Drive
Gainesville, FL 32604
(352) 392-5500
gatorzone.com/facilities/?venue=swamp&sport=footb

Florida Museum of Natural History

Before getting out into nature, learn about it at the Florida Museum of Natural History. Located at the University of Florida Cultural Plaza, the museum has rotating exhibits and the permanent Butterfly Rainforest. Permanent exhibits are free, the butterfly garden is $9.50, and special exhibits are $8, as of November 2009.

Florida Museum of Natural History
Powell Hall Education and Exhibition Center
SW 34th Street & Hull Road
Gainesville, FL 32611
(352) 392-1721
flmnh.ufl.edu

Lake Alice

Lake Alice, located on the University of Florida campus, is a sanctuary for alligators, as well as a variety of birds and bats. An evening visit is perfect to catch site of the UF mascots stepping onto the shore (don't worry, the gators won't bite if unprovoked) and to be around for dusk, when the bats take to the sky for the day's first meal.

Lake Alice
Baughman Meditation Center
982 Museum Road
University of Florida
Gainesville, FL 32611
(352) 294-0049
performingarts.ufl.edu/venues/baughman-center

Hawthorne Trail

A day spent hiking, biking or horseback riding down the Hawthorne Trail is a favorite way to leave the city behind for many Gainesville locals. You can find parking, and the trailhead at Boulware Springs City Park in the city. From there, the trail stretches 16 miles through the Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park and the Lochloosa Wildlife Management Area. In Paynes, you can spot a diverse array of wildlife, including the wild buffalo, which calls the prairie home.

Hawthorne Trail
Boulware Springs City Park
3300 SE 15th Street
Gainesville, FL 32641
(352) 466-3397
floridastateparks.org/gainesville-hawthorne

Ginnie Springs

About 30 miles outside of central Gainesville is Ginni Springs. A privately-owned outdoor adventure center, the springs are home to some of the most popular cave-diving in the United States. The abundant springs, Poe, Blue, Heart, Devil's Den and more, offer great swimming holes as well. Additionally, rope swings, camping and party-goers (alcohol is allowed at Ginni Springs) add college atmosphere to the natural beauty, for better or for worse.

Ginnie Springs
7300 NE Ginnie Springs Road
High Springs, FL 32643-9102
(386) 454-7188
ginniespringsoutdoors.com

Article Written By David J. Harvey

David J. Harvey has worked as a journalist since 2006, while earning a degree in political science and writing at the University of California, San Diego. He has written and edited for the UCSD "Guardian" and the AUC "Caravan" in Cairo, and currently freelances with San Diego's "Uptown News."

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