Gainesville summers give you long days and pleasant weather. The problem is, Gainesville's gems are hard to find amongst all that is going on. It can get annoying if you're always cooped up in the four walls of your Gainesville apartment. Here are five places that will keep away the summer boredom:
Five Must Visit Spots in Gainesville This Summer:
Butterfly Rainforest at the Florida Natural History Museum
What makes for a better summer Instagram post than hanging around colorful butterflies? This is precisely what you get at the Butterfly Rainforest located at the Florida Natural History Museum. The interactive exhibit includes over 50 different butterfly species, enough to make your eyes wander. Not only is the display flooded by playful butterflies, but there are fishes, turtles, and birds.
The Natural History Museum also displays the ''Wall of 'Wings' which stands tall with butterfly and moth collection as well as photographs. If you're still not convinced, check out some of the videos and pictures on their page, it'll be the last push you need to head over. Butterfly Rainforest exhibit is located on Hull Road just off the edge of the University of Florida, which is particularly close to apartments near SW 20th Ave. The live exhibition is open on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, and it is dependent on the weather. The adult ticket price is 14 dollars for the general public but make sure to check the Plan your Visit website as discounts are offered.
Devil's Millhopper Geological State Park
With a name that quickly catches attention in a conversation, 'Devil's Millhopper is sure to fill your summer adventure desires. A large cavity sits at the bottom of a tall forest where the sound of trickling water meets the chirps of the birds flying high. A day at 'Devil's Millhopper can range from hiking through the woods to spending the night camping. It is pet-friendly, so you can enjoy a beautiful trail with your furry friend or even sit down and have a picnic.
If you're going with friends, be sure to check out their history as the sinkhole has given researchers shark teeth and even fossils! The sinkhole is about 120 feet deep and is easily accessible through a stairway. The state park is open Wednesday to Sunday from 9 am to 5 pm. There is a fee of 4 dollars per vehicle and $2 for bikes. Check out all the amenities that 'Devil's Millhopper has to offer on their website.
Living in Florida can mean that there are plentiful beaches on the coasts, but when you live in Gainesville, that isn't the case. Luckily for us, Gainesville is abundant in springs and lakes perfect for an afternoon dip. Ichetucknee Springs is a part of a collection of springs that feeds into the river. Water tubing, kayaking, and canoeing are among the most popular water sports at Ichetucknee. If you're lucky while taking a dip, you may encounter some of the spring's partners such as beavers, otters, turtles, and even ducks!
Ichetucknee offers nature trails where relaxing is a must. A nice breather after a swim will take you on a quest through the forest. You can end your day with a lovely picnic in front of the 6-mile Ichetucknee river. There is a $6-dollar fee per vehicle and additional charges for watersport rentals. The state park is open from 8 am till sunset, so you're sure to get your 'money's worth.
Another name to call your attention is the 'Devil's Den located in Williston, Florida. Unlike 'devil's Millhopper, 'Devil's Den gives you the opportunity to snorkel, scuba dive and experience the wonders of the crystalline water. The average water temperature sits at a cool 72 degrees, enough to refresh from the exhausting Gainesville heat. This is not your apartment pool, 'Devil's Den is 54 feet deep and had 120 ft of surface diameter. Just like 'devil's Millhopper, 'devil's den is dated to prehistoric times, which means you can experience all the rock formations and stalactites that shape the spring.
Scuba and snorkeling equipment can be rented at the lodges as well as cabanas. 'Devil's Den is connected to various springs and rivers, so the fun never stops. Check out their admission fees on their website.
Two Tails Ranch
This seemingly unknown animal sanctuary located in Williston, Florida, has been home to over 250 elephants. Two Tails ranch gives visitors a chance to tour the farm, which also cares for zebras and tortoises. The entrance fee is $ 20.00 for an adult ticket. This sanctuary ranch has educational tours that run for 2 hours. Besides meeting the elephants and learning their stories, you can feed them! Two Tails ranch is an excellent weekend spot to give you an adventure; you can't get anywhere else. For more information, feel free to check out their website for availability and bigger group tours.
Gainesville has much to offer to its residents whether it takes the form of prehistoric springs or meeting Luke the elephant at Two tails ranch. Whatever route your summer takes, I hope that it makes a stop to these must-visit landmarks.