Tired of spending Saturdays cooped up on the couch binge-watching Netflix? If you're itching to get outside, we have a great idea for you. Take advantage of the warm Florida weather and spend an afternoon (or several) exploring one of the five best beautiful parks Gainesville has to offer!
Paynes Prairie is a favorite local hangout with its multiple hiking and biking trails. It became the first state preserve in Florida in 1971 and has been a destination for nature lovers ever since. The park is home to numerous endangered plant species and provides a habitat for an array of livestock and wildlife.
This state park is a 120 foot-deep sinkhole filled with a small rainforest. Researchers have learned much about Florida's natural history by studying fossil shark teeth, fossilized extinct animal remains, and marine shells found in the sinkhole. Learn all about it through interpretive displays throughout the park! Trails lead to the bottom of the sinkhole, and there are picnic areas on top where you can eat, gather with friends, and bask in the sun.
Related content: Fun Family-Friendly Things to Do in Gainesville This Weekend
With a soccer field, basketball courts, walking trails, and playground, this park will has something fun for guests of all ages. A grilling area and picnic tables make this the perfect spot to enjoy BBQ after a hike or soccer game with the kids! Workout stations throughout the park also allow you to get active without being cooped up in the gym.
Related content: Unexpected Adventures in Gainesville
If you're looking to spend the day with your furry friend, then Dogwood Park is the place for you. 15 acres of green grass, swimming ponds, and sand pit digging areas will be sure to please your pooch. Dogs are allowed off-leash to roam throughout the park freely. There is a $12 per day entry fee, and the park also provides doggie daycare for those times when your sunny afternoon is packed full of errands.
Looking to take the scenic route? Alfred A. Ring Park houses over a mile of winding walking trails through picturesque woodlands. A playground and covered picnic pavilion make this another ideal spot for weekend family fun. The Hogtown Creek cuts through the park, providing beautiful water views among trees and wildflowers.
We hope you're now feeling motivated to throw on a pair of sneakers and hit the park! Whether you're looking to play or picnic, visiting one of Gainesville's best five parks is sure to turn your typically-lazy Sunday into an adventure-filled afternoon.
Cover photo courtesy of Madison Nickel on Unsplash