Before You Go
Coordinates | 29.6516°N, 82.3248°W
Baton Rouge to Gainesville | 589.8 miles
Driving Time | 8 hours, 22 minutes
Flying Time | 3 hours, 31 minutes (BTR to GNV)
Gainesville prides itself on being a place where nature and culture meet. You may believe it to be just a college town, but there’s so much more to Gainesville than meets the eye. Gainesville features small-town hospitality with big-city amenities, so if you’re looking for fun the entire family can enjoy, choose Gainesville as your next getaway. Gainesville overflows with outdoor activities, championship-winning sports teams, and a laid back attitude that allows you and your family to explore at your own pace.
Where to Eat
Blue Highway Pizza
204 NE US Highway 441, Micanopy, FL 32667
Experience the “Highway to Pizza Heaven” as you feast on the Highway Parmesan Cheesy Bread or the Watermelon Salad while sitting (inside or out) and taking in the blue highway scenery. Order the Margherita Pizza or Pizza Lombardo as your main meal as you get the “small town USA” experience. ■ bluehighwaypizza.com
505 Northwest 13th Street, Gainesville, FL 32601
To beat the heat, stop by SweetBerries for a unique sweet treat. Try a frozen custard or concrete in either chocolate, vanilla, or the special flavor of the day. There’s even fresh sandwiches, salads, and fruit spreads if you’re in the mood for a different taste. Local favorites include the potato salad and the Cuban Sandwich, and if your furry family members are traveling with you, SweetBerries has a dog-friendly outdoor patio with bowls and treats.
3262 SW 35th Boulevard, Gainesville, FL 32608
For award-winning barbeque at a family-owned restaurant, this is sure to hit the spot. This Smokehouse offers a new Floridian twist on southern classic barbeque. If classics are what you’re hoping for, you can’t go wrong with the brisket or pulled pork sandwich. If you’re looking for more adventurous flavors, try the Brontosaurus Beef Rib or smoked jalapenos.
Things to Do
Set up like a small neighborhood, INK (Interactive Neighborhood for Kids) is a children’s museum that gives kids the chance to explore places you would typically see in a city. Children can experience the inner workings of a real airplane; climb aboard a real fire truck; be a pretend doctor, nurse, or patient in the INK Medical Clinic; interact with a magical talking coin; or even become a hair stylist at the beauty salon. ■ inkfun.org
Elachee Nature Center strives to put children and families back outdoors. With live animal exhibits featuring reptiles, amphibians, and beehives, there’s plenty to see and explore. Pack a lunch for a picnic while allowing your children to run for as long as their hearts desire, or go for a hike on the Storybook Trail that’s designed with the little ones in mind. ■ elachee.org
Take a walk through the entire solar system at the Gainesville Solar Walk. The walk is just under a mile and not only features a statue representing each planet, but a few stars from our neighborhood around the sun as well. You’ll be sure to experience the true size of the solar system in a beautifully designed way. ■ visitgainesville.com
Interact with robotic animals at the Robot Zoo in Cade Museum for Creativity and Invention. The Robot Zoo helps kids learn how real animals work through robotics. The museum even has Creative and Fab Labs to show kids real science in action, and lets them do some hands-on activities. ■ cademuseum.org
Cool off in Gainesville’s largest spring at Poe Springs Park on the banks of the Santa Fe River. The shallow water and low crowd numbers make this park kid friendly. The park also has a playground, ball fields, nature trails, and water activities. For your more experienced swimmers, there’s even a 25-foot deep cave to explore. ■ visitgainesville.com
For a one-of-a-kind adventure, visit Gainesville’s only tree-climbing service, Canopy Climbers. They offer group tree-climbing events, as well as instruction for those who want to safely climb trees on their own. ■ canopyclimbers.com
Before the last bit of warm weather slips away, head on out for a day of water fun at Lake Sidney Lanier. You and your kiddos can enjoy a full day of water sports including fishing, kayaking, canoeing, boating, and water skiing. You can even pack your bikes and go for a family ride. ■ gainesville.org