People are easily allured by all of the sights, sounds, and experiences that the state of Florida has to offer. From the beaches in Miami and to the attraction in Orlando which include Disney World, the state is never short on things to do. Travelers like you have most likely heard of Florida and its tourist attractions but you are most likely familiar with the cities stated above. However, there is more to the state that these areas and what people keep forgetting is that it is one of the largest states there is. That being said, the number of attractions are not limited to a handful. If you really want to experience the state at its fullest, then you must visit areas cities like Gainesville.

The city of Gainesville was established in 1853 and was named after Edmund P. Gaines. The small town back then as eventually incorporated into the state by 1869 and was chartered as a city in 1907.

Often called as “Hogtown,” the city of Gainesville is the county seat and the largest city in Alachua County. It has a ton of notable places and one of which is the University of Florida which is also the fifth-largest university campus in the U.S. The city is notable for having a low cost of living and in fact, even the students at the University of Florida enjoy cheap restaurants nearby. Before becoming one of the economic boosters in Florida, Gainesville’s history is one that’s about humble beginnings.

Gainesville History

Countless millennia ago, Florida was inhabited by Paleo-Indians. Despite this, there are only a few evidences found in Florida that detail how the early inhabitants lived. One of the places where a prehistoric site was discovered was right at Alachua County.

One of the first recorded explorers to reach the land that is now known as Gainesville was Hernando de Soto who passed through the area in August 1539. They stayed at various villages during their journey and one of which was a village called Utinamocharra which is now located at the northwestern edge of Gainesville. The Native Americans in the area offered little to no resistance to the colonizers. Eventually, Gainesville fell under the jurisdiction of British East Florida from 1763 to 1784.

The city was initially founded to become the county seat of Alachua County as it was right at the heart of the Florida Railroad Company’s trail that went from Cedar Key to Fernandina Beach. Because of its strategic location, the value of properties in Gainesville began blossoming. In time, it became a center point for economies. Eventually, certain entrepreneurs established around eight to nine stores and three hotels around the courthouse square.

By the early 20th century, Gainesville was growing bigger. The leaders of the then small city then became increasingly worried about whether or not there was enough resources and power to accommodate everyone. As such, by 1905, Gainesville was issued a new charter that allowed it to expand its city limits. The city was also given its first bond issue that same year. The funds were used to create sewer systems and paved streets.

Up until the 1950s, Gainesville went through a lot of notable changes. The true changes began when private companies offered electric services for the city. The city suffered through the harsh effects of the Great Depression and World War II but as with most major cities, it eventually able to recover. And the rest was history.

That was just a short glimpse of Gainesville rise to becoming one of the top cities to live at in Florida. Now that you know it, pack your bags and read on as we’ve got a guide to your visit in this bustling economy at the heart of Alachua County.

How To Get To Gainesville, Florida

The only airport within Gainesville is the Gainesville Regional Airport. However, if you are coming from far off places, then you’ll be making flight changes several times. The airlines that operate in the airport only go to Charlotte, Dallas, Miami and Atlanta. This means if you want to get to Gainesville, you’ll have to book trips from nearby airports.

The nearest and most accessible airport near Gainesville is the Orlando International Airport. Upon landing at the airport, you can simply catch a coach from the Orlando RedCoach Station to get to Gainesville. That trip will last for over 2 hours. Other accessible airports are the Tampa International Airport and Jacksonville International Airport. From these areas, you simply have to take buses that directly go to Gainesville. However, the trips you’ll take in these routes are significantly longer.

Once you are in Gainesville, getting around is easy as there are various modes of public transit. One that you’ll find yourself using again and again is the Gainesville Regional Transit System which takes you on busses all over the city.

Alternatively, you can take ridesharing services such as Lyft and Uber to get around the city but of course, this option is relatively more expensive than public transport. However, you can easily get from one point to the other using these services.

Since this trip will about getting around some of the major spots in the city, we highly recommend renting a car instead. This will be the cheaper options if you are hoping to explore the city. Ideally, you could spend up to $20 per day with a rented car, gas included.

When Is The Best Time To Visit Gainesville, Florida

The Average temperatures in the city vary greatly. However, the weather feels great most of the year but there are some weeks during the summer when it gets a little too hot for comfort. The hottest months in the city are June, July and August, with the last month being the hottest as temperatures could reach up to 93.2°F.

The good thing about Gainesville is that rain is not very common which is a unique trait in the state of Florida. The lowest chance of strong rains are in October, November and December. If you really want to avoid the rain, then you must avoid visiting during mid-July. Since rain is pretty rare, you can probably avoid getting wet by checking out the weather advisories beforehand.

Tourism in Gainesville, Florida is at its highest during July, followed by August and June. As expected, hotel rates and flights are at their highest during these months as well. However, if you want to bask in the warm Florida sun, then be sure to book everything you need months ahead. The least busiest and cheapest month in Gainesville for travelers is December. During this time, temperatures range from mildly cold to freezing.

Traveling in Gainesville is relatively safe. There have been no travel advisory warnings in the city so you do not need to exercise excessive security measures when visiting the city. However, do note that it pays to be safe at all times.

With these crucial information in mind, it is now time to check out exactly what are the things you can see and do in Gainesville, Florida and make the most out of your trip.

Tips to Enjoy the Things to Do in Gainesville Florida to the Fullest

Florida really has a lot to offer to every tourist. From its tourist attractions to even its restaurants, you will really enjoy every corner of it regardless of what kind of adventure you’re seeking, especially in Gainesville, Florida. But the fun doesn’t stop when you try out the countless things to do in Gainesville Florida. There’s more to each of this city’s attraction than you can imagine that will definitely make your trip even more fun and memorable. That said, here are some tips so you can make the most out of your visit to some of Gainesville’s top attractions and maybe score some freebies.

1Devil’s Millhopper Geological State Park

A portion of the 236-step stairway that you can find at the Devil’s Millhopper Geological State Park (Source)

Devil’s Millhopper Geological State Park is not your ordinary state park. Sure, it looks like an ordinary state park that has a nature trail that stretches for half a mile and has a rainforest setting. But, here, you can also get to see a sinkhole tt’s 120 feet deep. As you enjoy walking in the Devil’s Millhopper Geological State Park, don’t forget to look around you so you can savor the tranquil surrounding. And, of course, don’t forget to take a look at the sinkhole as you travel down the wooden stairs. In addition to that, keep an eye out for some wildlife around the area as you can sometimes spot rabbits, squirrels, reptiles, birds, and amphibians.

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To make the most out of this Devil’s Millhopper Geological State Park trip, taking guided walks with a park ranger is what we highly recommend With this, you can learn more about the place’s history and hear more stories about the place. You can also relax and have a picnic as the state park has a picnic area that’s perfect for families too.

2Haile Homestead

Speaking of history, one of the top things to do in Gainesville Florida is to visit the Haile Homestead. Here, you can get a glimpse of what it’s like in the 1800s just by seeing the impressive craftsmanship of the Haile family’s enslaved laborers. The house is entirely made out of cypress and pine wood.

To make the most out of this tour, don’t forget to keep an eye out on the talking walls. You won’t hear them talk to you, though. Rather, you can get to see a glimpse of their lives as the walls can figuratively talk through the writings in it made by the Haile family.

The Haile family had an unusual habit of writing on their walls. In fact, there are about 12,500 words and artwork in nearly every corner of the houses, even in their closets. The writings include the family’s personal observations, silverware, names of visitors, and so much more; you’ll even find business records written! Who knows what else will you find written on their walls?

Don’t worry if you won’t be able to read them all. Some of the most humorous and interesting writings from the walls were compiled to a book and they are up for sale at the house.

3Lubee Bat Conservancy

President of the Florida Bat Conservation, Shari Blissett-Clark, holding a bat during last year’s Florida Bat Festival at Lubee Bat Conservancy (Source)

Visiting the Lubee Bat Conservancy is one of the popular and, of course, the best things to do in Gainesville Florida too. Here, you can conquer your bat phobias and debunk myths and legends about them as the Lubee Bat Conservancy offers educational tours. You can get to learn more about the several species of bats as well.

To enjoy your visit at the Lubee Bat Conservancy, watch out for special events, especially in October. During this month, you can witness the annual Florida Bat Festival as it takes place at the Lubee Bat Conservancy. You can expect a lot of activities where you’d be in for lots of fun. The best part of it is that you can even get a chance to meet giant fruit bats.

Since this is a bat habitat we are talking about, you need to keep in mind that there will be a lot of rules to follow, all of which, will be detailed by the guides at the beginning of the trip. Ideally, you wouldn’t want to disrupt the natural habitat by taking photos with flash and becoming too noisy. Remember, in the Lubee Bat Conservancy, you are the guests, and the bats are the hosts.

4Matheson History Museum

A look at the Matheson History Museum from the outside (Source)

If you want to dig further into Gainesville’s past, adding a Matheson History Museum tour on your list of things to do in Gainesville Florida is what you should do. As its name suggests, the Matheson History Museum is dedicated to protect and showcase the city’s history. As you tour the museum, you can also learn more about Alachua County. Some of the highlights in the museum include a big collection of thousands of historical photographs, illustrated gazettes, and even Florida postcards.

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Here’s a tip: Matheson History Museum has a museum shop. Here, you can find several interesting books that tell stories about the region’s past that are up for sale.

The history of Gainesville may not sound interesting enough but with how well this place is made, you won’t regret any second spent during the learning experience. History lessons don’t always have to be boring and trust us when we say that you’ll be enjoying this tour to the past.

5Santa Fe College Teaching Zoo

A kid able to interact and get closer to Santa Fe College Teaching Zoo’s animals thanks to the zoo’s students (Source)

Santa Fe College Teaching Zoo may probably confuse you for its name. But yes, as its name suggests, this unique place is a zoo and at the same time, it doubles as a place for learning.

If you want to really know more about animals and are passionate about making a difference for wild animals in the wild, and if you have much time to spend to study here, Santa Fe College Teaching Zoo’s doors are open. Here, you will not just get closer to the animals and be a part of the zoo’s keepers but you can also gain hands-on experience in taking care of them and to even construct as well as maintain their habitat. You can even share your knowledge as you educate the zoo’s visitors. You can learn more about that here.

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But if you don’t have enough time to dedicate but still want to have a glimpse of its animals and learn some about them and their habitat, you’re more than welcome too. Here, you can get to see a wide selection of animals – both exotic and endemic. The zoo has a nice pathway that is suitable for visitors who require wheelchairs too. It’s definitely a place where the whole family will have fun.

Don’t be too worried about getting bitten, scratched, or hurt by the animals in the Santa Fe College Learning Zoo as throughout the duration of the trip, you’ll be guided by professionals who have been doing their jobs for years.

When it comes to interactive zoos, it can get better than the one here in Gainesville. It will be a great learning opportunity for your kids as well so make sure to tag them along for the ride. We’re sure that they’ll truly appreciate this place with you.

6Florida Museum Of Natural History

We’ve talked about traveling to the past of Gainesville before. What’s great about Gainesville is that you get a glimpse of the history of millennia past. The Florida Museum of Natural History will take you on a tour that explores how our ancestors lived.

The attraction features highly detailed replicas of prehistoric humans, as well as towering animals such as mammoths and more. These are very educational tours that you should take your kids on as there’s a lot to learn about the past. Perhaps the biggest attraction in this museum is the large skeleton of a mammoth on display so be sure to not miss out on this.

7Swamp Head Brewery

Some of the drinks from Swamp Head Brewery that you can get to try (Source)

Gainesville or the whole Florida may not be the first places that comes to our minds when thinking about the best breweries. But little do many of us know that Florida, especially Gainesville, has several breweries that are worth talking about too. Swamp Head Brewery is one of them. In fact, it is one of the most recommended breweries that both locals and tourists talk big of.

The Swamp Head Brewery has been gaining popularity since 2008. This is because of its authentic all-Florida artisan brew. They also offer some good food that you shouldn’t miss out on.

To make your visit to the Swamp Head Brewery all the more memorable, sign up for the brewery tours that they offer. With this, you will not just get to get a glimpse of how they make their specialty drink but you can also get to take home a unique drinking glass from them. You can check out the tour’s schedule here.

The artisan brew in Gainesville is certainly something you should not miss out on. Luckily, this trip inside the Swamp Head Brewery not only take you around the brewery as the magic happens you can also sample some of the amazing brews as well. Just make sure to not drink too much as you wouldn’t want to ruin the trip for everyone else around you.

8Kanapaha Botanical Gardens

The beautiful lily pads at the gardens are its biggest attractions. (Source)

The Kanapaha Botanical Gardens is one of the largest attractions on this list in terms of landmass. You can think of it as a zoo but this time is it mostly focused on plants and flowers. If that’s not exciting enough, you should check out their giant lily pads which can hold fully grown kids!

As with most of the attractions on this list, this will be an educational tour. Make sure to tag the kids along as the lily pads are amazing spots for a little picture taking. That’s not all that the gardens offer though as there are many other scenic plants to take shots of. Remember as well, don’t get too handsy with anything!

Gainesville and the other parts of Florida has a lot of spots to offer for every age more than you can think of. And it can be quite overwhelming. That said, you might miss out the most fun part of your tour. May this list help you make the most out of some of the best things to do in Gainesville Florida. With these, you can surely score some freebies or gain some extra experience from your trip.

Which one of these will you try out? Do you have some more tips to share like these? Tell us in the comment section below.