Are you traveling to Florida to watch the Tigers take on the Gators? Check out these 8 “don’t miss” activities from Visit Gainesville!
(Mizzou visits The Swamp)
1. Discover the largest collection of bamboo in the southeast at Kanapaha Botanical Gardens.
Twenty five major collections make up Kanapaha Botanical Gardens. The collections include the largest herb garden in the Southeast and Florida’s largest display of bamboos. During warm months visitors can see giant Victoria water lilies and Asian snake arums. June – September offer the most color. Kanapaha Botanical Gardens is very user friendly, with benches and gazebos – you may come across a wedding, reception or conference as you stroll. Kanapaha offers a gift shop that offers original art and treasures from the natural world. Kanapaha hosts the Annual Spring Garden Festival, the region’s premier horticultural event featuring more than 200 booths offering landscape displays, arts and crafts, plants, educational materials, and food. Kanapaha Botanical Gardens is operated by the North Florida Botanical Society, a non-profit educational organization. The name is derived from the Timucua Indian words for “palmetto leaf” and “house” referring to thatched dwellings of the village on the shore of nearby Lake Kanapaha.
2. Tour the historic campus of the University of Florida
The atmosphere inside The Swamp is electric, especially on game day. Enjoy walking around the stadium and checking out statues of UF’s Heisman winners. You can also wander through campus to discover beautiful architecture and centuries old Live Oak trees.
3. Visit the UF Cultural Plaza and see the Butterfly Rainforest and Harn Museum of Art.
At the Florida Museum of Natural History’s Butterfly Rainforest exhibit, you’ll come face-to-face with exotic free-flying butterflies within a large screened enclosure. Visitors can stroll through tropical foliage and flowers to the sound of waterfalls. Between 60-80 species from all over the world reside here at any given time. The Wall of Wings exhibit inside the museum showcases thousands of preserved and photographed butterfly and moth specimens. Visitors can get a close-up view of scientists working in the world’s largest butterfly research facility. The butterflies in the exhibit become active when temperatures are 60 degrees or higher. The Harn Museum of Art opened in 1990, dedicated to promoting the power of the arts to inspire and educate people and enrich their lives. More than 8,300 works are represented in the museum’s various collections, which include photography and Asian, African, modern and contemporary art. The museum also displays numerous traveling exhibitions throughout the year.
(Harn Museum of Art)
4. Watch a show at The Hippodrome.
A slice of Broadway in downtown Gainesville, the Hippodrome presents musicals, comedies, dramas, and holiday productions. The Hipp is the region’s only professional theatre and has been Gainesville’s most celebrated performing arts institution, celebrating 40 years of artistic excellence. The Hippodrome presents the highest quality theatrical programming with Broadway, off-Broadway and regional titles. For over 40 years, the Hippodrome has been a “must-see” destination in downtown Gainesville.
5. Check out Greathouse Butterfly Farm.
Started by a former elementary school teacher, Greathouse Butterfly Farm offers tours of their butterfly gardens seven days a week. They also raise butterflies and caterpillars for television and film. They are the only USDA certified organic butterfly farm in the country.
(Greathouse Butterfly Farm)
6. Go antiquing in Micanopy.
Many Floridians consider Micanopy to be the top antique shopping destination in the state. “The little town that time forgot” presents shoppers with antique shops housed in historic buildings framed by massive old live oak trees dripping with Spanish moss. Not trendy boutiques, but the warmth, charm, and friendliness of the people, in the tradition of Southern hospitality, are what make shopping in Micanopy a unique experience. Micanopy’s vast array of antique shopping is set in unique historic buildings downtown and in Smiley’s Antique Mall, just off of I-75, which offers another 24,000 square feet of shopping. Cholokka Boulevard, the main street through downtown, is lined with antique shops. Other attractions include The Shop, located in Dr. Daily’s old drugstore building. The Shop has 3500 square feet lined with home furnishings, folk art, seasonal decor, and other eclectic treasures. O. Brisky Books, also located on Cholokka Boulevard, is one of Florida’s largest sources of used and rare books, drawing bibliophiles from all over the state. At Mosswood Farm Store, which bills itself as offering “organic, earth-friendly stuff we need,” you’ll find clothing, soaps, kitchenware and, well, stuff we need – all from years ago. Native plants are for sale out back. Mosswood Farm Store also hosts a Farmers’ Market every Sunday afternoon next to the Historical Museum. Downtown Micanopy offers shoppers a number of options for lunch or ice cream. One favorite is the Old Florida Cafe, known for its Cuban sandwiches and homemade orange pie. Just outside of downtown, you will find The Blue Highway, some of the best pizza in North Central Florida.
7. Try a Pint at First Magnitude Brewery.
The newest brewery in town just opened this fall, and you don’t want to miss it. Named after our proximity to the largest concentration of freshwater, high magnitude springs in the world, First Magnitude Brewery is located close to downtown and the UF Campus. There’s a different food truck on site every day, so you’ll get a taste of local eats while you’re there too!
8. Enjoy a slice at Satchel’s
Every college town has their share of pizza joints and so do we. Only in Gainesville you can enjoy an amazing slice of deep dish inside a 1960’s Ford Van, or at one of the other unique tables in the restaurant. Visiting Satchel’s is as much about the experience as it is the pizza. The entire restaurant is decorated in art and found objects, and you can enjoy live music or play bocce ball while you wait for your table. It’s cash only, but they have an ATM and all the fees go to local charities.
(Satchel’s deep dish)
If you have any questions, be sure to contact VisitGainesville at (866) 778-5002 or (352) 374-5260.
Thanks to Anna Mikell with VisitGainesville for sharing these great activities with us!
All photos courtesy of VisitGainesville