Welcome to Gainesville, home of the University of Florida! Here are some suggestions for things to do in Gainesville:

The Springs

Gainesville is known for its beautiful springs. Some of the most popular springs to visit are Ginnie Springs (private), Poe Springs, and Blue Springs. Please note that state springs can fill up and close early in the summer, so plan ahead.

Depot Park

Depot Park is a great place to take the family for a picnic, playground time, and splash pad fun. The park is next to the Cade Science Museum, there’s also a bar at the park that serves beer and wine in the old train depot.

Public Pools

For those of you with kids, there are also some public pools in town. Be warned: It gets very hot in the summer.

Santa Fe River

Enjoy a serene canoeing experience on the Santa Fe River. Canoe rentals are available at the Santa Fe Canoe Outpost in High Springs, offering a peaceful paddle to Poe Springs. There’s also a private spring owned by the famous Ed Watts, to which you’ll see homemade signs (and a beer named after him at The Great Outdoors (yummy restaurant with live music on the patio).

Sweetwater Wetlands Preserve & La Chua Trail

For wildlife enthusiasts, Sweetwater Wetlands Preserve and La Chua Trail are must-visits. Here, you can see alligators, a variety of birds, and other local wildlife in their natural habitat.

Lake Wauburg

The university-owned lake offers various outdoor activities and, again, see more alligators. You need your Gator 1 card to enter, but it’s free.

Mill Creek Farm

Thirty minutes away in Alachua, there’s a retired horse farm called Mill Creek Farm that is freely open to the public on Saturdays from 11 AM to 3 PM. It’s a beautiful place for a long, relaxing walk and you get to feed horses. Pack plenty of carrots for the horses (like, 2-3 big bags) and a picnic lunch to enjoy at one of the picnic tables.

Crystal River Manatee Viewing

A day trip to Crystal River is perfect for seeing manatees. Nearby, you can see mermaids at the historically famous Weeki Wachee State Park.

St. Augustine Exploration

For a historical and scenic day trip, St. Augustine offers the Alligator Farm Zoo Park, the historic St. George Street district, the architectural beauty of Flagler College, and the Castillo de San Marcos National Monument. Don’t forget the gorgeous beaches!

Itchetucknee Springs State Park

A favorite among locals and visitors, Itchetucknee Springs State Park offers a unique experience of floating down the Itchetucknee River. You can rent tubes either at the park or from vendors along the way. A tip for a more comfortable float: choose tubes that aren’t black as they tend to absorb more heat. The spring water maintains a refreshing temperature of 72 degrees year-round, offering a cool escape from the summer heat.

Living History Farms

For a glimpse into the region’s past, visit Dudley Farm and Morningside Nature Center. These living history farms offer a view of life in the 1800s with occasional weekend events.

Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings Historic State Park

Explore the 1930s home and citrus farm of the famous author, Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, in Cross Creek. Make sure to take the tour led by one of the docents to hear some interesting stories about her life and the neighbors she wrote about as well as other famous writers who visited her. This visit won’t take long, so you can visit The Yearling restaurant on your way home. Like her home, the beautiful novel, The Yearling, will give you a view into rural life inthis region in the early 1900s if you’re in the mood for a book (or just watch one of the many movie adaptations of the book or about her life). 

Fun 4 Gator Kids

Discover more kid-friendly activities and summer camp information on the Fun 4 Gator Kids site.