It is time to get outside and enjoy the fresh air. There are lots of amazing things to discover in Gainesville and the surrounding areas. Gainesville is known for its local and state parks and fun things to do both on the UF campus and within the City of Gainesville.
Many of these facilities can be reached by the RTS bus system. Use the RTS Trip Planner to see if it is on an operating route. Remember, outdoors in Florida can often bring with it heat, sun and some rain. Be sure to have water with you, wear sunscreen, rock a hat, and bring an umbrella for those “Rainesville” moments.
Get ready to witness a UF staple experience. The evening emergence of bats from the World’s Largest Occupied Bat Houses. This experience takes place each evening in the 10-15 minute period after sunset. Come explore, and check off this from your list of UF must-do experiences. Find out more: View Site
There is no better place than “The Swamp”. But this space is also perfect place to get a workout in, study session, or just to relax. View Site
Hanging out between trees is quite the way to unwind and enjoy the beautiful Florida weather at the University of Florida. You can find Hammock spots on campus on the Plaza of the Americas and Lake Alice nature area. If you do not have a hammock but want to take advantage of this opportunity limited rentals are available by appointment by the Center for Outdoor Recreation and Education (CORE) through recreational sports. Find out more about renting hammocks.
Gainesville is where culture and nature meet. These local places and facilities are top recommendations from UF’s Office of Off Campus Life to explore and enjoy. Please be sure to adhere to all posted signage regarding physical distancing and face covering requirements. There may be times that these facilities reach capacity so be sure to head out early to embrace the great outdoors!
What was once contaminated earth, the residue from the site’s history as a rail yard, is now a blooming field of wildflowers and native plantings lined by decorative tracks that commemorate this former railroad transportation hub. Depot Park Ambassadors have created social circles and chalk art 6’ apart on walkways as tools to help keep you safe while you enjoy the open airfields and trails. Visit Site
In the midst of North Florida’s sandy terrain and pine forests, a bowl-shaped cavity 120 feet deep leads down to a miniature rain forest. Small streams trickle down the steep slopes of the limestone sinkhole, disappearing through crevices in the ground. Lush vegetation thrives in the shade of the walls even in dry summers. Visitors can enjoy picnicking and learn more about the sinkhole through interpretive displays. Please note that there is a nominal per car admission fee. Visit Site
Kanapaha Botanical Gardens is a 68-acre facility comprised of 24 major collections visually accessible from a 1 ½ mile paved walkway. These include the state’s largest public display of bamboos and the largest herb garden in the Southeast. Picnic baskets are welcome and there is a picnic area very close to the entrance building. Kanapaha’s walkways are largely wheelchair accessible and benches, gazebos and other rest stations are liberally spaced throughout the facility. Please note that there is a $10.00 admission fee. Visit Site
Come enjoy the fresh air! Spending time outside is beneficial for your mental and physical health. Located eight miles south of campus on Highway 441, Lake Wauburg North Park and South Shore offers UF students, faculty and staff an opportunity to enjoy the water and outdoors. For more information and hours of operation: Visit Site
Paynes Prairie is unique in many ways. Nowhere else in Florida can visitors experience wild-roaming bison and horses. Nearly 300 species of birds also frequent the park along with alligators, deer and many other animals. The park’s eight trails, including the 16-mile paved Gainesville-Hawthorne State Trail, allows one to explore the park’s interior and observe wildlife, while a 50-foot high observation tower provides for panoramic views. Please note that there is a nominal per car admission fee. Visit Site
Now a thriving habitat, Sweetwater Wetlands Park is filled with vast numbers of plants and animals, including birds, butterflies, alligators and Florida cracker horses. At the park, you can walk more than 3.5 miles of crushed gravel trails and boardwalks, experience the lush landscape from viewing platforms, and learn about the habitat through educational signs and tours. Please note that there is a nominal per car admission fee. Find out more: View Site