Discover Gainesville with your student
Tours leave from 10 SE 2nd Street
$20 and up
Looking for a fun way to get to know downtown Gainesville? Join a 2-hour tour with The Spins (or book the whole party bike for a special event). If you don’t feel like pedaling, there are a few non-pedaling seats. Your guide will share fun Gainesville facts and an intro to some of the best local businesses. Downtown Pub Tours are offered daily (21+) and all-ages Family Rides on Saturdays, with special themed events sprinkled in here and there. Reserve online.
Delights await at the University of Florida Cultural Plaza. The Harn’s 11 galleries showcase special exhibitions as well as treasures of the permanent collection. Enjoy the museum’s rock, water and sculpture gardens, then take a break at the Camellia Court CafО. Just a stone’s throw away, there’s much to explore both inside and outside at the natural history museum, but the Butterfly Rainforest is the one exhibit you won’t want to miss. Stroll through a vibrant tropical landscape as birds and butterflies fly free around you! If possible, time your visit to catch a live butterfly release (2 p.m. daily with additional times on the weekend).
5000 NE 60th Avenue, High Springs
$14 (there is an extra fee for scuba and certified cave divers)
A little bit farther afield but so worth it. Swim, snorkel and river tube in one of the clearest springs in Florida, open year-round and always a refreshing 72 degrees. You can rent paddleboards, tubes, canoes and kayaks as well as snorkel and scuba gear. Want to stay more than a day? There is a campground, or you can book the adorable Ginnie Cottage.
8500 SW Archer Road
We often say, “If walls could talk” — at the Historic Haile Homestead, they do. Beginning in the 1860s, when the house of heart pine and cypress was built by enslaved laborers, Haile family members and friends wrote on the unfinished walls. The stories of the enslaved people of the Kanapaha cotton plantation have been recreated through oral histories, photographs and other documentation which you can experience at the site’s Allen and Ethel Graham Visitors Center. Tours of the Homestead — one of the oldest houses in Alachua County and on the National Register of Historic Places — are held on Saturday and Sunday (and weekdays by special appointment).
North side of Museum Road across from Lake Alice
Forget the gators for a moment — let’s talk about bats! If you’re on the UF campus as the sun sets, hurry over to the Bat Barn and Bat House. Just before dark on a calm spring or summer evening is ideal for viewing the emergence of the bats. Three kinds inhabit the houses: Southeastern mouse-eared bats, evening bats and Brazilian free-tailed bats. The colony, estimated at 300,000 bats, consumes 2.5 billion insects nightly. Don’t worry; they really don’t want to nest in your hair.