“So, what are your summer plans?” That's the question of the day as long, hot summer days are approaching. It’s fun to plan road trips and international vacations, but, when you live in a place as multifaceted as Gainesville, you can have plenty of summer fun without leaving town! If you're not sure where to begin, check out our list of fun ways to enjoy a Gainesville Staycation!

University of Florida

Scope out your kids’ future university dorms at The University of Florida! The college's beautiful scenery, funky eateries, live music, and upscale shops are make for interesting sightseeing and even better people-watching. Be a college student for a day and enjoy the ambience of this university town.

For a spooky yet enthralling evening, visit the University of Florida Bat Houses right before sunset. About 15 to 20 minutes after sunset (as long as it isn’t raining or too windy), watch the thousands of bats that live in the houses and farms here (about 400,000 total) swoop out of the houses and dive for bugs!

Free Fridays

The City of Gainesville Parks, Recreation, and Cultural Affairs Department’s 2018 Free Fridays is a series of free, family-friendly concerts in Downtown Gainesville every Friday night from 8 p.m. to10 p.m. through Friday, October 19. Expect rock, blues, and a mix of musical genres along with returning favorites and new bands.

Kanapaha Botanical Gardens

Come check out this beautiful botanical display in all its colorful summer glory. With 24 major collections that can be viewed from a mile-and-a-half of paved walkway, the gardens boast the state's largest public display of bamboo and the largest herb garden in the Southeast. Warm weather helps the giant Victoria water lilies and Asian snake arums bloom. The Kanapaha Botanical Gardens are open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Wednesday and Friday, 9 a.m. to the earlier of 7 p.m. or dusk Saturday and Sunday; the gardens are closed Thursday. Admission is $8 for adults and $4 for children ages five through 13; children under five are free.

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Florida Museum of Natural History

Spend hot summer day at this university-run museum checking out exhibits such as Masters of the Night, South Florida’s People and Environments, and Florida Fossils. Stop by and check out the butterfly garden as well. The Florida Museum of Natural History is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Sundays. Admission is free for general exhibits, but there’s a charge $13 for adults and $6 for children ages three through 17 to visit the butterfly garden and and an additional charge for special exhibits. Donations are also welcome.

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Santa Fe College Teaching Zoo

The Santa Fe College Teaching Zoo a local treasure animal lovers won't get enough of; the 10-acre facility is one of only two teaching zoos in the country! Budding zoologists or any kid who’s begged for an exotic pet would enjoy visiting this place. The zoo is open seven days a week from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Appointments are not necessary, and admission starts at $5 for children ages four through 12 and seniors.

Devils Millhopper Geological State Park

Escape the hot scrubland of Florida and head to this bowl-shaped cavity 120 feet deep. You can walk down into the rainforest-like limestone sinkhole and observe lush foliage and streams trickling down the sides. Picnic around the bowl and check out interpretive displays about the fossil shark teeth, marine shells, and fossils of extinct animals that have been found here. The park is open Wednesday through Sundays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is $4 per vehicle with up to 8 visitors per vehicle and $2 for pedestrians and bikes.

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Whether it's strolling through Downtown, soaking up knowledge at a museum, or exploring a state park, there's plenty to do in Gainesville this summer. So keep those summer blues at bay, pack your water bottle and spirit of adventure, and venture forth to the perfect staycation!

Find even more things to do in Gainesville by registering on 352area, your free guide to everything in North Central Florida.


Cover photo courtesy of PxHere