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Your guide to Gainesville
All About Gainesville
With a state park home to wild bison and alligators, a natural history museum with an internationally-acclaimed fossil collection, and a 125-acre wetland park located right downtown, Gainesville, Florida offers more than your typical college town. One hour from Jacksonville, Gainesville is the biggest city in Alachua County, located in north central Florida. The region is best known for its natural areas, which are perfect for outdoor recreation such as biking, swimming, and boating.
However, Gainesville is also home to well-preserved historic buildings, the oldest of which dates back to 1884. For a small city, Gainesville is a lively place with many festivals scheduled throughout the year, as well as a strong arts scene intertwined in the city’s culture. Street art and full wall murals showcase local talent all over Gainesville. A noteworthy spot to visit is the ever-changing Gainesville Graffiti Wall, a 1,120-foot wall that receives new art added nearly every day.
When is the best time to stay in a vacation rental in Gainesville?
Many of Gainesville’s most popular attractions are outdoors and best explored in the springtime. Warm Florida weather brings life to an array of wildflowers, including the roadside phlox, which blooms from April to June each year. Spring also gets significantly less rainfall than the summer months, making it a good time to plan outdoor picnics and hiking excursions. Spring is also when the Santa Fe Spring Arts Festival takes place, showcasing local art and live music.
Summer is rainy season in Gainesville, and the days are often warm and muggy. The precipitation eases every October, and the weather becomes more comfortable for spending time outdoors. Winter is brief, mild, and dry and worth a trip for the Hoggetowne Medieval Faire that turns the Alachua County Fairgrounds into a medieval marketplace for two weeks every January.
What are the top things to do in Gainesville?
Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park
Just south of Gainesville is the Paynes Prairie Preserve, a state park that protects the habitat of a wide variety of native animals and birds. You may come across wild horses, deer, and bison when walking in the prairie, or alligators in the park’s marshes. A 16-mile paved path makes it possible to bike through the park for a close up view of Floridian nature. For a panoramic view, a 50-foot-high observation tower is open to the public.
Kanapaha Botanical Garden
The city’s 64-acre botanical garden has 24 collections, including the largest public bamboo forest display and the largest herb garden in Florida. With a map in hand, you can wander through gardens that specialize in botanical varieties, such as the Bromeliad Garden, Fern Cobble, Bamboo Garden, Woodland Trail, and more. Three different waterfalls link up the water gardens to the west of the park.
Florida Museum of Natural History
Learn about the last 65 million years on earth as you progress through five geologic periods in the Florida Museum of Natural History’s permanent Florida Fossils exhibit. Many of the fossils here were discovered within a 100-mile radius of Gainesville. Right at the exhibit’s entrance are several sets of shark jaws, including the nine-foot-wide jaws of the extinct Megalodon. Another permanent exhibit encourages children to learn through interactive activity stations and is open weekdays.