The City of Gainesville is a city most notably known for its local college, the University of Florida. The University of Florida, or UF, is one of the top 10 public schools in the nation and was just recently ranked the #7 public university in America in 2019 by US World News. The academic success of the school is often attributed to the exceptional faculty, programs, and departments of the university along with its students. Offering both traditional, and online degree programs for bachelors, masters, doctorates, and associate degrees, the University of Florida provides a wide array of academic opportunities to all. Although a lot of the prestige of UF comes from its academic programs, the University is also a powerhouse in sports. Gator sports compete at the division 1 level and have decorated its campus with numerous national championships. Some of the recent successes came in the 2000s when UF took come two national football titles and two NCAA basketball titles. The success of the university continues to grow as does its student population. Right now, the University of Florida is the 5th largest university campus by enrollment.
What to Do in Gainesville
Gainesville is much more than just a college town and offers attractions and activities for all. The following hot spots are perfect to visit with a group of friends or family. Skip the Uber and ride in style in a limousine or for larger groups a party bus might be more suitable for transportation:
Butterfly Rain Forest
Gainesville has its very own butterfly garden owned and run by the University of Florida. The location offers an interactive walkthrough exhibits where you become immersed in the home of hundreds of butterflies. This is a great place to take your family for an exciting afternoon.
Florida Museum of Natural History
The Florida Museum of Natural History is the largest museum in all of Gainesville. Located right across the Butterfly Rainforest, the FMNH is also owned and operated by UF and is Florida’s official state-sponsored and chartered natural-history museum.
The University of Florida Bat House
Gainesville is home to the World’s Largest Occupied Bat Houses. The bat houses are located next to Lake Alice and provide a “show” every night. As day turns to dusk, one by one the bats fly out of the houses and off into the night. There is a viewing area outside the houses for you to catch this immaculate sight.
Paynes Prairie Preserve is a state park that encompasses more than 21,000 acres in Micanopy, Florida, just south of Gainesville. The park is a savanna that spans across both I-75 and US 441. The scenic view can be admired right from the road or its viewing area. This is a great place to see a sunrise or sunset.
Stephen O’Connell Center
The recently renovated Stephen O’Connell Center is home to the Florida Gator’s men’s basketball team and Florida gymnastics. The two teams compete in this arena. The arena also hosts concerts throughout the year inside its doors. Some notable artist to perform are Drake, John Mayer, Big Sean, and Tom Petty. Also known as the O’Dome, the stadium holds 11,000 seats. Nothing is better than catching the game with friends or family, sporting events transportation can safely transport your group and on time!
Ben Hill Griffin Stadium
Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, full name Steve Spurrier-Florida Field at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, is the largest Florida football stadium and the 12th largest football stadium in all of college football, and the 18th largest in the world. The seating capacity of the stadium is 88,548, but it typically holds more than 90,000 on Florida football home game days. Known as “The Swamp,” Ben Hill Griffin Stadium is the football stadium for the UF’s Florida Gators football team. The stadium has administrative offices and training facilities located under the south and west stands of the Florida Field. A Saturday in The Swamp is known for its Rowdy Reptiles (fans) all cheering on the Gators football team and for its massive tailgates.
Carson Springs Wildlife Conservation Foundation
The nature center is a not for profit exotic animal rescue and endangered species animal park and breeding center. The facility has a nature park that houses over 75 animals coming from 28 species. Guided tours through the park are available upon reservation.
The Oaks Mall
The Oaks Mall is a one floor indoor mall in the west area of Gainesville. With a large variety of big-name shops and stores, an expansive food court, and entertainment, the Oaks Mall is the spot to hit for some shopping.
Devil’s Millhopper Geological State Park
Devil’s Millhopper Geological State Park is located in north-west Gainesville. The park is run by the Florida State Parks system which is a division of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection. The most prominent features of this state park are its sinkholes which have been formed by the dissolution of limestone. The cutaway of rock makes it easy to see the 12 springs that feed into a pond at the bottom of the sinkhole. The land is filled with fossils that have been preserved and are viewable from the many walkable trails around the park.
Swamp Head Brewery
Swamp Head Brewery was founded in 2008 as Gainesville’s own world class brewery. The brewery offers Wild Night Honey Cream Ale, Cottonmouth Belgian Witbier, Stump Knocker Pale Ale, Midnight Oil Oatmeal Coffee Stout, and Big Nose IPA year-round and also has limited time and seasonal beer releases. Swamp Head prides itself on brewing only using Florida and organic ingredients. Swamp Head Brewery won 11 awards in 2011 at the Best Florida Beer Championships.
The University of Florida
UF is packed with rich culture and unique historic sites. If you are in Gainesville, you need to check out the university campus and explore it. One recent addition to the campus is the Shand’s Hotel, a state-of-the-art facility catered to the families and friends of loved ones receiving treatment at Shand’s Hospital. The hotel is a world class hotel opening its doors in 2020.