I’m an explorer at heart. Are there any fun nature activities near my Gainesville apartment?

If you love the outdoors, then Gainesville is the perfect city for you. Gainesville is home to a number of nature trails and outdoor areas. Whether you're looking to be one with mother nature, take a refreshing study break, or embark upon an exciting adventure, you'll find a wide-variety of activities and beautiful spots just minutes from your Gainesville apartment.

Paynes Prairie

Depending on which way you are headed, Paynes Prairie can be seen from both Interstate-75 going north or south-bound. The Prairie spans roughly 23,000 acres with eight hiking trails. Wildlife that is unique to Florida, including alligators, wild horses, bison, and over 300 species of birds, can be seen year-round. After a visit to the Prairie you'll get a taste of what makes this area so unique and learn why the Seminole Indians loved to call this area home. Make sure to stop by the visitor's center, located in Micanopy, on the way to learn more about both the Prairie's history as well as the great Sunshine State. Make sure to climb up the 50-foot observation tower for some breathtaking views of the Prairie. Not only can you explore 30 miles worth of breathtaking nature trails, but Paynes Prairie offers many other experiences, such as camping, biking, picnicking and fishing. The best part of it all, the fun of the Prairie can be found right around the corner from your Gainesville apartment!

Kanapaha Botanical Garden

Located off of Archer Road, Kanapaha Botanical Gardens is home to the state's largest public bamboo collection and herb garden in the southeast. Throughout the year the botanical garden hosts many events, one of them being the Spring Garden Festival. This particular event hosts about 150 booths with plants, arts and crafts, and food. Another popular event at the garden is a Moonlight Walk where laser lights and luminaries guide over a mile of paved walkway. This event also includes live music, food vendors and telescopes for stargazing. To take part in this event there is a small admission fee – though it's totally worth it! If you have a furry friend at home who wants to join, the botanical gardens are pet-friendly (dogs are permitted on leashes, except for during special events). For the best color and foliage, visit the gardens between the months of June and September.

Northwest Gainesville

Northwest Gainesville is filled with many parks and nature trails that are just minutes from your Gainesville apartment. Being one of the greener areas of Gainesville, you'll find that this area experiences much less traffic than other parts of Northwest Gainesville. If you're an animal lover, take a stroll through the Santa Fe College Teaching Zoo. The zoo is home to over 75 different species of animals and about 1.5 miles of shaded walking trail. Another park nearby is Alfred A. Ring Park. This park has a 1.5-mile walking trail situated along the Hogtown Creek. Depending on what time of the year you go you can see beautiful dogwood trees and an abundance of wildflowers in bloom. If you don't mind getting a little wet, you can even go looking for shark teeth in the creek! The Devil's Millhopper Geological State Park is probably one of the most unique places in Gainesville. Take a walk on a trail that is a little over a half a mile and surrounds a 120-foot deep sinkhole. Listen to the sounds of nature and the water from nearby streams trickle down to the bottom of the cavity. Please note that there is a small fee to get into this park.

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