One of the most common questions we get from students at college fairs is, “What is there to do in Gainesville?” The simple answer is, A LOT! But in addition to some of the things that come to mind immediately, there are quite a few hidden gems. Here are a few spots to check out once you’re in town.

Kanapaha Botanical Gardens
A quick 15-minute drive takes you from the hustle and bustle of UF’s campus to 68 acres of quiet beauty. With 24 collections along a 1.5- mile paved pathway, visitors can spend hours taking in the Garden’s many species. The Gardens also host events throughout the year, such as the Spring Garden Festival and a Moonlight Walk where visitors can explore under the glow of the stars. And at just $10 per person, it’s a great value!

Ocala Drive-In
This one isn’t technically in Gainesville, but it is a blast from the past you don’t see much anymore! A $6 ticket gets you the experience of watching some of the latest films under the night sky, all from the comfort of your own vehicle. The Drive-In also has plenty of drinks and snacks at the concession stand. If it’s a cooler Florida evening, you can even bring a lawn chair and enjoy the movie outside.

The Hippodrome Theatre
Are you a fan of the arts? The Hippodrome, known as “The Hipp” around Gainesville, is a beautiful downtown building that hosts many cultural events throughout the year. You can stop in for a gallery visit, catch a live performance of “A Christmas Carol” or welcome the weekend with live music - all in the same place. Prices vary based on the event, but a good time is always guaranteed.

The Butterfly Rainforest at the Florida Museum
Now, let me start by saying there are a lot of fascinating things to see at the Florida Museum (which is right on UF’s campus!), but the Butterfly Rainforest is a really special experience. In a beautiful open-air enclosure, you can explore an ecosystem filled with more than 40 species of butterflies as well as birds, fish, flowers and so much more. Tickets are $14 for adults, $12 for Florida residents and college students, and free for UF students.

When some people hear the phrase “small town,” they think of a place where there’s not much to do - but that is definitely not the case for Gainesville. Whether you feel like live music, a walk through nature, or grabbing brunch with friends, Gainesville has something for everyone!