The idea of Gainesville during the summer may seem a little empty, but quite a few students beg to differ. Whether they’re here for summer classes, a summer job, or just like the idea of a quieter version of Gainesville, there are plenty of students who have a blast during the summer months in town! Here are a few things you can do to keep busy over the next few weeks:

See the Great Outdoors
We know a lot of people suggest nature hiking in the summer, and Gainesville has ample trails. Payne’s Prairie Reserve State Park offers multiple trails that allow you to see a diverse selection of wildlife (including the alligator, which we’re pretty fond of around here). At only $6 a car, this is an easy and affordable trip for a solo hike, or an outing with friends. There’s also Sweetwater Preserve that offers three miles of unpaved trails, served by two separate trail heads.

Discover a Rainforest
The Devil’s Millhopper Geological State Park has reopened from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday - Sunday. Descend 120 feet deep into a miniature rain forest where small streams trickle and lush vegetation awaits. Notice the temperature change as you descend into the cool depths. This little adventure will only cost you $4 a vehicle.

Take a Dip in Freshwater Springs
Adjacent High Springs, Florida is within a 30-minute drive and serves as a gateway to Florida springs, where water rises from an underground aquifer at 72 degrees year round. Enjoy nature’s pools for swimming, snorkeling or paddling at Poe Springs State Park, Blue Springs, or Ichetucknee.

Stop and Smell the Roses
This is something you actually can do at Kanapaha Botanical Gardens. With 24 major collections and a one and a half-mile paved walkway, this is an easy trip that allows you to see both native and nonnative plant species. Entry is $10, but with so much to see, it’s more than worth the fee.

Take a Short Trip
One of the benefits to living in Gainesville is how close it is to many top vacation destinations. Wanting to relive your childhood for a bit? Walt Disney World is only two hours south. Looking for a beach trip that offers a little historical background? Crescent and St. Augustine beaches are 90 minutes from Gainesville. Metropolitan areas such as Tampa and Jacksonville are also within drive time and provide access to large venues for entertainment and sports.

Utilize Your Student ID
We know students are on a budget, so why not put your Gator 1 card to use? Take a bus to UF’s Lake Wauburg and spend the day basking in the sun or paddle boarding with your friends. There are also pavilions with tables so you can take a break and have lunch together. If getting in the water isn’t your thing, Lake Wauburg also offers a beautiful setting for reading, writing, or just taking a nap.

Enjoy the Tranquility on Campus
Some of you may be thinking, “I can enjoy campus any time I want,” but there’s something different about it during the summer. While we still have frequent visitors and Preview sessions every week, UF is significantly less busy, which gives you time to appreciate it in a different light. Hang your hammock in the Plaza of the Americas, visit the Arts & Crafts Center at the Reitz Student Union, or grab Krishna lunch with a much shorter line. Even in the summer, there’s always something happening on campus.