Known for being a college town, Gainesville, FL has a lot to offer visitors. This vibrant, inexpensive city is the home of the University of Florida and also of the football team, Florida Gators. Whether you are on a solo trip or a family trip, there are plenty of things to do.
Things to do in Gainesville
Since this is a college town, there are plenty of budget-friendly activities. So if you find yourself on a budget while exploring Gainesville, here are ten things you can do for under $20.
1. Devil’s Millhopper Geological State Park
This place was quite impressive! For only $4, I was able to get into the State Park. When arriving, there is a box where you drop in the money. If you do not have any cash, don’t worry you’re still able to paying online or following the directions posted at the vistor center.
The Devil’s Millhopper is a large, deep, cover-collapse sinkhole. Although sinkholes are common in Florida, the Devil’s Millhopper is unique because it is one of the few places, where more than 100 feet of rock layers are exposed. You also have to go down 232-steps to get to the sinkhole. This is quite an adventure since you’re surrounded by forest, and if you’re not in the best shape, going up the steps will be a challenge.
This beautiful state park is only open Wednesday through Sunday from 9 am to 5 pm. If you go on Saturday, you can also get a guided tour that starts at 10 am.
2. Florida Museum of Natural History
If museums are more your thing, then check out the Florida Museum of Natural History. General admission is free, but if you want to get into the special exhibits and the Butterfly Rainforest, that will be an extra charge. The Florida Museum of Natural History is an engaging and impactful hub for teaching and learning science. Here you will find fossils, a butterfly exhibit, an exhibit on South Florida people, and more. There are eight permanent exhibits with limited time only exhibits. You can find this museum at the University of Florida campus.
3. Kanapaha Botanical Gardens
This place is massive and worth the admission fee. For only $10, you get to walk this 68-acre facility. Here you’ll find 24 different collections such as a display of Bamboo and the largest herb garden in the Southeast. This is also the place that has the giant Victoria water lilies, which are just wonderful to photograph.
If you’re into photography, this is definitely a place to see, and even if you’re not, it’s still a wonderful place to visit. Do plan to spend at least 3-4 hours as this is quite a huge garden with plenty of flowers and sculptures to look at.
4. University of Florida Bat House
Another interesting activity at the University of Florida is the bat houses. These are the world’s largest occupied bat houses. The best time to go to observe the emergence is spring through early summer when days are increasing in length. It is completely free to go see them, just make sure there isn’t an event going on at the university as some roads do get closed off.
5. Solar Walk
The Solar Walk is a joint project of the city of Gainesville, Florida, and the Alachua Astronomy Club, Inc. While the Solar Walk is on the side of a busy street, it is fascinating to look at and walk along admiring the sculptures. Each sculpture represents a planet and they are each spaced to show the relative average sizes of each orbit using a scale of about four billion to one.
6. Swamp Head Brewery
Founded by a University of Florida alumni, the Swamp Head Brewery is a great spot to get some Florida beers. They also have a tasting room and brewery tours. However, you may want to call them ahead of time to check if the brewery tours are running.
There are plenty of restaurants and coffee shops in Gainesville, but for me, this was a must-visit. TeaStori is a Boba Tea and Dessert Cafe. While they do have a huge selection of Boba Tea, they also have coffee, macarons, and mochi ice cream. This was a great spot for some dessert.
8. Cade Museum of Creativity & Invention
The Cade Museum’s exhibits, educational programs, and Creativity Labs encourage learners of all ages to think like an inventor. This is a great place to inspire future inventors, entrepreneurs, and visionaries. The Cade Museum has different exhibits along with their permanent exhibits. Want to learn more about the toilet or how astronauts use the toilet? You’ll find more on this topic at The Cade Museum. While the cost of admission is $15 for adults, it is only $10 for youth ages 5-17.
9. Bluefield Estate Winery
A small family-owned winery, Bluefield Estate Winery has some of the best Blueberry Wines. Aside from that, they have reasonable prices on on their wine tasting. While the space indoors may be a bit small, the vineyards are quite nice to look at.
About 20 minutes away from Gainesville is the town of Micanopy. Micanopy is the oldest inland town in Florida, and also has some great eateries, charming shops, and trails to visit. You could spend about 3-8 hours depending on what you decide to do.
Gainesville is such a fun city with quirky places and a lot of historical sites. It’s also a great city to visit if you’re on a budget.
Will you be visiting any of these places?