Gainesville has a distinct personality and a wide variety of entertainment. The Greater Gainesville area is rich in arts, culture, sports, food and so much more. If you find yourself entertaining guests, be sure to check out any of these spots to ensure a good time and even better memories.
For the Art Lover
Samuel P. Harn Museum of Art
The Harn Museum is Gainesville’s very own art museum, complete with gift shop and café. It features more than 10,000 pieces from all over the world, both modern and contemporary, and regularly hosts new exhibits.
Curtis M. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts
From orchestras to comedians, the Phillips Center brings world-renowned cultural experiences to Gainesville all year long. Check the University of Florida Performing Arts website at performingarts.ufl.edu to see what’s showing.
One of only four state-funded theaters in Florida, the Hippodrome is a Gainesville staple. Watch a live show on the main stage or daily movie screenings in its very own cinema.
Gainesville Fine Arts Association Gallery
Introduce your guest to the talent of Greater Gainesville and let them browse through the GFAA gallery. Open Tuesday to Saturday from 11 a.m. – 6 p.m., the gallery is a great stop before you treat your guest to dinner downtown.
For the Nature Enthusiast
Kanapaha Botanical Gardens
Take a stroll through Kanapaha Gardens to enjoy the garden’s 24 major collections. The most colorful months are June through September, but it hosts events year-round. The gardens are largely wheelchair accessible, and benches and gazebos are spaced liberally around the grounds.
Surround yourself with a wide variety of plants and flowers at the Kanapaha Botanical Gardens
Cedar Lakes Woods & Gardens
Just a short drive to Williston, Florida, Cedar Lakes Woods & Gardens is a 20-acre gem of botanical creations. The gardens are built into a lime rock quarry and boast beautiful natural lakes and wildlife.
La Chua Trail
If you want to see alligators, wild birds and even the occasional wild horse or bison, take a walk on the 3-mile La Chua Trail at Paynes Prairie. Beginning in the parking lot for the trail, a paved path will take you through ancient oaks and plum trees and even to an old stable with stalls still intact. Afterwards, a boardwalk curves around two sinkholes, and if you choose to walk farther, you’ll find a grass path where the wildlife of the prairie roams freely.
Florida Museum of Natural History
For the history buff, the Florida Museum of Natural History features eight permanent exhibits and a rotation of temporary exhibits. It also boasts the Butterfly Rainforest, where a tropical garden houses hundreds of free-flying butterflies, moths and birds.
For the Sports and Fitness Fanatic
Catch a Game at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center
The newly renovated Exactech Arena at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center is home to the Florida Gator basketball, gymnastics and volleyball teams. You won’t want to miss out on taking your guests to an event in the O’Dome.
See a Football Game at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium
The world-famous Steve Spurrier-Florida Field at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium is a Gainesville landmark. If your guests are in town during the fall season, going to a game in the “Swamp” is a must.
The Solar Walk
Located on Northwest 8th Ave, this nearly mile-long trail depicts the entire solar system in a proportional 4 billion to 1 scale. It’s a pleasant walk and a great education experience for the kids!
Gainesville-Hawthorne State Trail
On horse, foot or bike, enjoy this 17-mile paved trail while soaking in some of Gainesville’s remarkable wildlife. The trail passes from Boulware Springs Park through the Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park as well as other local and state conservation areas.
The culmination of many years of planning and restoration, Depot Park is downtown’s new attraction for families. The park hosts frequent events and is fully equipped with a playground, picnic pavilions and the Pop-a-Top General store, in case all that playing makes you hungry.
Take a break from the sun at Depot Park and enjoy a snack or a drink at the Pop-a-Top General Store.
For the Foodie
The Top restaurant is the perfect mix of the arts and culture that Gainesville is famous for, plus a unique food experience. With a diverse menu that all guests can enjoy, The Top is an ideal place to take visitors.
Root & Pecker
Vegan-friendly restaurant Root & Pecker prides itself on offering healthy foods and supporting local farms. Once you enjoy lunch or dinner at Root & Pecker, take a walk and enjoy what the rest of the plaza has to offer, which includes an organic garden shop and a cute coffee house that also stocks beer and wine.
One Love Cafe
If your guest is tired from travel and wants a relaxed dinner with live music and an outdoor breeze, look no further than One Love Cafe. This family-friendly restaurant offers fire pits, a green space for kids and dogs to play and, of course, healthy and delicious food. On their website, One Love Cafe refers to itself as a “giant backyard family reunion.”
The Great Outdoors
Located in idyllic High Springs, the Great Outdoors restaurant won a Florida Trend Golden Spoon Award each year from 2011 to 2014. It has also won five TripAdvisor Certificates of Excellence, the last in 2016. The Great Outdoors has live music on the patio five nights a week and weekly specials. Don’t miss the opportunity to share this gem with a guest.
Gainesville Food Tour
This 3-hour, 1.5-mile walking food tour of downtown Gainesville showcases tastings at five local restaurants. In addition to enjoying a selection of delicious food, the tour offers a history of the people and places of Gainesville.
For Those of Age
Opened in August 2017 by Miami native and Gainesville bartender T.J. Palmieri, Madrina’s is a fresh cocktail bar in the heart of old Gainesville, with a touch of classic Havana. Their menu is reminiscent of island flavors and currently one of the only Latin-inspired bars that Gainesville has to offer.
Swamp Head Brewery
Gainesville is lucky to have a selection of local breweries, including Swamp Head. While Swamp Head beers are available all over town, treat your guest at the tasting room “The Wetlands” for a selection of locally brewed beers on tap. On select days and times, the brewery is also open for tours.
Relax and unwind. Sample one of the many beers available from Swamp Head Brewery
Cypress & Grove Brewing Co.
Officially opened in August 2017, Cypress & Grove Brewing Co. is Gainesville’s latest local brewery. Not only does the brewery offer blondes, pale ales, porters, IPAs and a few others, they offer homemade seltzers. If your guests want a fresh aesthetic, take them to this ice factory turned micro-brewery.
Rockeys Dueling Piano Bar
The self-proclaimed “best damn piano show in the country” is also Gainesville’s only. Thursday through Saturday, Rockeys’ pianos are fueled by audience requests. Reserve a table ahead of time and relax as you sing along to piano renditions of your favorite songs while enjoying reasonably priced beers, wines and cocktails.
For craft cocktails, wine, champagne or a variety of fine cigars, visit Fluid Lounge in the Tioga Town Center. The fun spot has a live DJ Thursday through Saturday nights.