From watching sports games to visiting state parks, there are lots of fun things to do in the Gainesville area. But there's something else that this college town has in spades that people don’t often think of: museums. While the idea of going to a museum may conjure memories of boring field trips, these museums in Gainesville are actually a fun way to fill up your afternoons as well as your minds.

Florida Museum of Natural History

Florida’s Museum of Natural History is a great place to bring the entire family. With both limited-time and permanent exhibits, there's bound to be an exhibit that each visitor will enjoy. Their current limited-time exhibit, "The Scoop on the Poop," studies scatology and runs until May 6. Other exhibits include Bark Beetle Calligraphy, Mapping the Museum’s Collections, and Florida Fossils.

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Thomas Center

The Thomas Center has become a museum in its own right as it had its beginning as a family home in 1906, then known as the Sunkist Villa. Standing tall through the years, the building is over a century old and offers tours as well as art exhibits. They also host weddings, meetings, and cultural events within many of their lavish rooms.

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Harn Museum of Art

As part of the University of Florida, the Harn Museum of Art dedicates itself to showing the most aesthetically-pleasing and unique artwork. With ongoing exhibits like African Masquerades and their Asian Collection, you'll be shown a different side of the world when you step through their doors. They also host temporary exhibits like American Abstract running now through August 19 as well as an exhibit dedicated to miniatures in art coming March 21. Admission is free with the exception of special programs.

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Matheson History Museum

The Matheson History Museum began when Sarah Hamilton Matheson donated The Matheson House, a beautiful building built in 1867, to the Alachua County Historical Society. Since then, the Matheson History Museum has been a gem of Downtown Gainesville. The museum is also home to the 1885 Alachua County Courthouse as well as a canoe that is over a thousand years old. The Matheson History Museum is open Tuesday through Saturday from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. and, although there is no charge for admission, donations are appreciated.

Historic Haile Homestead at Kanapaha Plantation

The Haile Homestead is an old-style plantation completed in 1856 that belonged to the Haile family when they moved to Alachua County from the Carolinas. Part of what makes the house so special is the fact that its walls are unpainted and filled with writings and drawings from the people who lived there. Visit the Historic Haile Homestead in Gainesville and take a journey into the past.

Cade Museum for Creativity + Invention

Inspired by Robert Cade, the entrepreneur who created Gatorade, The Cade Museum of Creativity aims to inspire all inventors through hands-on experiments and discovery. The museum will open to the public mid-2018.

Whether you're with family or friends or a going solo, visit one of these museums in Gainesville; we guarantee there won't be a single dull moment.

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Cover photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons