Gainesville is best known as the home of the Gators, and if you’re visiting for a football weekend, enough said. There’s plenty to do in this beautiful Southern college town with Spanish Moss-draped oak trees, red brick buildings, funky eateries, live music, and upscale shops. But if you're going on a family trip with little ones in tow, here are four suggestions for fun family-friendly things to do in Gainesville.

Florida Museum of Natural History

This university-run museum in Gainesville is ground zero for introducing your family to the natural history of their state. With exhibits such as South Florida’s People and Environments; Northwest Florida, Waterways and Wildlife; and Florida Fossils: Evolution of Life and Land, there’s so much to learn and explore!

Hours: Monday through Saturday, 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.; Sundays, 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Admission: Free, but admission for the nearby butterfly garden is $6 for children ages 3 through 17 and $13 for adults

Related content: Unexpected Adventures in Gainesville

Santa Fe College Teaching Zoo

Gainesville has one of only two teaching zoos in the country where your family gets to walk around like zookeepers and see how it’s done! Budding zoologists or any kid who’s begged for an exotic pet would love to visit Santa Fe College's Teaching Zoo.

Hours: All week, 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. No appointments necessary.

Admission: Starting at $5 for children ages 4 through 12 and seniors

University of Florida Bat Houses

Your little animal lovers will be fascinated by the spooky-yet-enthralling bat houses and farm at the University of Florida in Gainesville. About 400,000 bats live between three structures, which is quite a sight to see before sunset. If you are quiet and watch the sky about 15 or 20 minutes after sunset on calm, warm evenings, your family can watch thousands of bats swoop out of the houses and dive for bugs as they fly.

Hours: Monday through Saturday, 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.; Sundays, 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Admission: Free

Devils Millhopper Geological State Park

While most of North Florida is populated by pine forests, scrub and sandy ground, there is a hidden place in Gainesville where a sort of magic has occurred to convert a wedge of Florida woods into a rainforest. Take your little ones to Devil’s Millhopper Geological State Park, a bowl-shaped cavity that is 120 feet deep. You can walk down into the limestone sinkhole and observe lush foliage and streams trickling down the sides. Your family can also picnic around the bowl and check out interpretive displays that teach about the fossil shark teeth, marine shells, and fossils of extinct animals that have been found here.

Hours: Wednesday through Sundays, 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Admission: $4 per vehicle with up to 8 visitors, $2 for pedestrians and bikes

For more family-friendly things to do in Gainsville, visit our Things to Do in Gainvesville and Family pages. Also, don't forget to register on 352area and connect to everything in Gainesville as well as all of North Central Florida.


Cover photo courtesy of Adobe Stock Images