Get lost in nature at the bottom of a sinkhole, relax in a rainforest with butterflies from around the world, sample craft beers brewed with local coffee and Madagascar vanilla beans, take a stroll through historic downtown and enjoy a great burger at a local favorite hole in the wall restaurant and bar. That is how we spent a fun filled day in Gainesville, Florida.
Located in North Central Florida, Gainesville resides in beautiful Alachua County and is the proud home of the University of Florida. As we have discovered, there is so much to do and see in the vibrant college city that a few days isn’t enough time. Granted, we also went to High Springs and Newberry during our visit and didn’t get to spend as much time in Gainesville. It’s a city we would like to spend more time in and explore.
Start the day early at Devil’s Millhopper State Park and descend the giant sinkhole on a guided ranger tour. Maybe even touch a giant great shark’s tooth and hear the stories behind the name of the park. Best to go early morning when the weather is cooler and allow 1-2 hours. The best part is dog are allowed on the nature trail around the park and on the boardwalk down in the sinkhole.
Head to the Florida Museum across from the University of Florida and relax on a park bench inside the Butterfly Rainforest. Learn about the different species and where to stand for an up close and personal encounter. Afterwards, wonder around the museum and get a feel of what it would be like to come face to face with a Columbian Mammoth during the last ice age.
After a hearty lunch, stop by Swamp Head Brewery for a pint of their Morning Glow, a blonde ale brewed with local coffee and Madagascar vanilla beans. This local microbrew is owned by a Gainesville native and their beers are only sold in Florida. Dogs are allowed inside.
In the mood for more beer? Head over towards historic downtown and check out First Magnitude Brewering. The 21,000 square foot space has a beer garden and taproom called “The Source”. Order a tasting or two to sample their great selection but also to check out their awesome license plate tasting trays. Dogs are not allowed.
Get on the wait list at The TOP, then take a stroll through historic downtown and grab a coffee from Maude’s Classic Cafe, serving coffee by local roaster Sweetwater – used by First Magnitude for their Daybreak Coffee Porter.
End the day at The TOP with an order of their famous corn nuggets and burger. From beef patties to bunless burgers, there are many options for a personalized burger. Fair warning, the restroom situation is more like a bar, not enough stalls for females so best to get in line a bit early.
Go home and pass out or head out for a night out with the Gators.