Gainesville: The Charm of Gainesville

Travel Guide to Florida - - TABLE OF CONTENTS - BY KEVIN FRITZ

From its abun­dance of na­ture and re­laxed way of life to its vi­brant en­ter­tain­ment op­tions and love of sports, Gainesville’s charm is hard to re­sist. Just one visit and you’ll un­der­stand why.


Out­door en­thu­si­asts love the Gainesville area. En­joy 30 miles of hik­ing, bi­cy­cling and eques­trian trails at Paynes Prairie Pre­serve State Park. De­scend 200-plus steps into the Devil’s Mill­hop­per Ge­o­log­i­cal State Park lime­stone sink­hole to find a minia­ture rain­for­est. Grab a kayak and head to High Springs or tube down the Ichetuck­nee River.

If you’re a sports fan, you’re in luck. The Florida Ga­tors field cham­pi­onship cal­iber squads in foot­ball, bas­ket­ball, gym­nas­tics and soft­ball, to name a few. Like to golf? Iron­wood and West End wel­come you to tee off year-round.

Shop the brand new Cel­e­bra­tion Pointe, fea­tur­ing an 82,000-square-foot Bass Pro Shop, or at the many new stores at But­ler Plaza. If an­tiques are your thing, neigh­bor­ing Mi­canopy, the old­est in­land town in the Sun­shine State, is the epit­ome of Old Florida.


Visit the Cul­tural Plaza on the Uni­ver­sity of Florida cam­pus to see the Florida Mu­seum of Nat­u­ral His­tory, which houses 34 mil­lion spec­i­mens and a But­ter­fly Rain­for­est. The ad­ja­cent Harn Mu­seum of Art is the per­ma­nent home of Claude Monet’s Champ d’avoine (Oat Field). Down­town, the Hip­po­drome Theatre has been the go-to place for plays and cinema for more than 40 years.

In nearby Cross Creek at Mar­jorie Kin­nan Rawl­ings His­toric State Park, you’ll find the writer’s fa­mous home where she penned The Year­ling, the 1939 Pulitzer Prize win­ner for fic­tion.


Gainesville is a col­lege town, so there is never any lack of nightlife, es­pe­cially on Uni­ver­sity Av­enue and Main Street. For live mu­sic, step in­side The Wooly, High Dive or Loosey’s. The Bo Did­dly Plaza fea­tures free out­door mu­sic ev­ery Friday from May through Oc­to­ber.

The re­vi­tal­ized down­town core is home to hip and tasty restau­rants. Try Dragon­fly Sushi & Saki Com­pany, Boca Fi­esta, The Top or sat­isfy your Ital­ian crav­ings at Amelia’s.

TOP: The bot­tom of the sink­hole at Devil’s Mill­hop­per Ge­o­log­i­cal State Park. CEN­TER: Fos­sil Hall at the Florida Mu­seum of Nat­u­ral His­tory.

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