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Things to Do in Gainesville on a Florida Getaway Vacation

Gainesville Florida is surrounded by magnificent natural areas and is home to Florida’s most popular state school, fostering an artistic, entrepreneurial, and innovation spirit. USA’s third largest university also spearheaded the invention of Gatorade, which as you see, further supports and creates a creative environment.

Visit Gainesville recently hosted Julie and I in order to discover and explore things to do in Gainesville Florida and share my findings with the McCool Travel network.

Getting to Gainesville

Direct flights into Gainesville (airport code GNV) from Atlanta and Charlotte. Gainesville is a two hour drive from Orlando and 90 minute drive from Jacksonville.

Things to Do in Gainesville on a Florida Getaway Vacation

Depot Park

Depot Park opened just two years ago and serves as Gainesville’s Central Park. The park honors the location as a major rail transportation area, in name and decor. An innovative children’s playground, multi-use trail, and natural areas now replace what was once contaminated ground.

things to do in Gainesville Florida. Article and photo by Charles McCool for McCool Travel.

Depot Park in Gainesville Florida

Depot Park, Gainesville Florida

Depot Park, Gainesville Florida

For more information about Depot Park: website | Facebook | Instagram

Cade Museum

The Cade Museum of Creativity and Invention is the centerpiece of the Depot Park revitalization and is scheduled to open May 19, 2018. Its namesake, Dr. Cade, invented Gatorade and the Cade family provided the means to support this enterprise focusing of creativity for all ages.

3D printed art object from Cade Museum. things to do in Gainesville Florida

Cade Museum, 3D printed seashell

For more information about Cade Museum: website | Facebook | Twitter

Sweetwater Wetlands Park

While most of the United States was below freezing, including at home in Northern Virginia, I walked around a nature preserve in Gainesville and spotted dozens of gators and migratory birds. This preserve is actually part of a sophisticated series of areas to filter water before it heads to the Floridan aquifer.

Sweetwater Wetlands Park in Gainesville Florida

Sweetwater Wetlands Park in Gainesville Florida

For more information about Sweetwater Wetlands Park: website | Facebook | Twitter

Hippodrome Theatre

The Hippodrome in downtown Gainesville hosts live theater. movies, classes, and art exhibits almost every day of the year. McCool Travel tip: the second floor men’s bathroom is said to be the safest room in Gainesville.

Hippodrome Theater Gainesville Florida

Hippodrome Theatre in Gainesville Florida

For more information about Hippodrome Theatre: website | Facebook

Gainesville Food Tour

Married couple Caroline and Ryan Earls run Gainesville Food Tour, showcasing the exciting culinary revolution in Hogtown. They visit five downtown Gainesville restuarants on their walking tours. On our recent custom and abbreviated tour, we visited Sweetwater Branch Inn for a decadent French toast casserole, Loosey’s for a magnificent Baconator Slider, Liquid Ginger for tasty Pad Thai and sautéed eggplant, and Patticakes for delectable cupcakes.

things to do in Gainesville Florida. Article and photo by Charles McCool for McCool Travel.

Gainesville Food Tour: Patticakes

For more information about Gainesville Food Tour: website | Facebook | Twitter

Wall Murals

Downtown Gainesville, besides having so many amazing places to eat, is very walkable and dozens of wall murals are waiting to be discovered and photographed. For more information on the Gainesville Urban Art Initiative, please visit 352walls.

things to do in Gainesville Florida. Article and photo by Charles McCool for McCool Travel.

things to do in Gainesville Florida: wall murals


Gainesville Events

— Hoggetown Medieval Fair

My trip coincided with the Hoggetown Medieval Faire (end of January and start of February). Visit a temporary and exciting Medieval village, complete with jousting matches, a marketplace, games for all ages, multiple entertainment stages, and a gathering place for funness.

Who dareth me to ride Barrel of Bedlam after my grog and turkey leg?Visit Gainesville / Alachua County, FLVISIT FLORIDAHoggetowne Medieval Faire

Posted by Charles McCool on Saturday, February 3, 2018

For more information about Hoggetown Medieval Faire: website | Facebook

— Hogtown Craft Beer Festival

In April the Hogtown Craft Beer Festival takes over the same Alachua County Fairgrounds. Over 200 passionate brewmaster members host the event which provides samples from over 100 breweries along with food from several local favorites. Last year, Hogtown Brewers donated after $30,000 from the proceeds of this event.

For more information about Hogtown Craft Beer: website | Facebook | Instagram

— University of Florida

Of course, you may also visit Gainesville to see your university student, attend a fall football game, spring baseball game, or other athletic or cultural event, or any other reason. If so, Gator chomp to you and enjoy your stay.

>>> Places to Eat in Gainesville Florida

The Top Restaurant

Named The Top after the old school wooden toy rather than claiming to be the best. However, this might be the most popular place to eat in Gainesville. Their amazing food is highlighted by scrumptious desserts. Really. Waiters tell you to save room for dessert, people waiting stroll inside to study the dessert display, and the focus from patrons at nearby tables was DESSERT.

For more information about The Top Restaurant: website | Facebook

Satchel’s Pizza

Satchel’s is more than great pizza, although the pizza is fantastic. Their homemade sodas are delicious and you can even order a flight of all 6 flavors. Our group split a large salad and each ordered one pizza slice. The slices are large and the toppings are generous. The pan pizza was ordered by several other tables and looked amazing.

craft soda at Satchel's Pizza in Gainesville Florida

craft soda at Satchel’s Pizza in Gainesville Florida

For more information about Satchel’s Pizza: website | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter

Swamp Head Brewery

“Inherently Florida” is the Swamp Head Brewery tagline and they focus on dominating the craft beer scene in Florida, using local supplies when possible, and reducing their footprint. They recently planted 80,000 trees to represent 80,000 cans sold in 2017. They only ship in cans now because bottles are heavier. Oh, they are also the only solar powered brewery. Cool!

things to do in Gainesville Florida. Article and photo by Charles McCool for McCool Travel.

things to do in Gainesville: Swamp Head Brewery

For more information about Swamp Head Brewery: website | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter

Monsta Lobsta

During the food truck rally at High Dive, I checked out all the food trucks before deciding on a lobster roll from Monsta Lobsta. It was huge! And delicious. If you see this truck anywhere in Florida, go!

things to do in Gainesville Florida. Article and photo by Charles McCool for McCool Travel.

lobster roll from Monsta Lobsta

For more information about Monsta Lobsta: website | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter

Fish Hawk Spirits

These “Makers of Fine Florida Spirits” operate their main facility in Ocala but have a tasting room in downtown Gainesville. Stop in to Fish Hawk to sample some remarkable infused whiskeys, vodkas, and an absinthe. Which is your favorite? I like the Split Charisma, Conquistador, and Fall of Man.

For more information about Fishhawk: website | Facebook | Instagram

Cookie Gazm

OK, it may not have been the smartest idea to visit Cookie Gazm immediately after tasting spirits across the street at Fish Hawk. With limited time for this trip, I wanted to experience as many cool places as possible. Well, Cookie Gazm rocks. The head of marketing has one of the most fun jobs in the world; check out their ads and social media posts. Try one of their sinful creations like One Night Stand, Booty Call, or Dirty Blondie.

For more information about Cookie Gazm: website | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter

How is this for a back-to-back food crawl?Visit Gainesville / Alachua County, FLVISIT FLORIDAFish Hawk Spirits GainesvilleCookiegazm

Posted by Charles McCool on Saturday, February 3, 2018

Where to Stay in Gainesville Florida

Gainesville actually has a cool historic B&B district with several inns to choose from. We stayed at Magnolia Plantation which was the first B&B in the area. Their friends and family later opened other inns in the district. Legend says that a former owner located pirate treasure and hid it but the current owners, Cindy and Joe, insist it is no longer in the house.

Magnolia Plantation B & B Gainesville Florida

The Magnolia Plantation in Gainesville Florida

For more information about The Magnolia Plantation: website | Facebook

For more information about things to do in Gainesville Florida:

Gainesville Visitor Bureau: website | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter

Have you been to Gainesville Florida? What other things to do in Gainesville would you suggest?

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Gainesville Florida USA Travel. Things to do in Gainesville Florida includes arts, food, hiking, fun events, and more.

Things to Do in Gainesville on a Florida Getaway Vacation first published on February 12, 2018

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3 Responses to “Things to Do in Gainesville on a Florida Getaway Vacation”

  1. Bylandersea February 13, 2018 at 4:13 pm #

    You missed the fabulous Butterly Rainforest at the Museum of Natural History!!

  2. oneperfectdayin February 12, 2018 at 8:59 am #

    Great post! We enjoyed our meal at the new Shula’s restaurant in Gainesville!

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