You already know that Gainesville and Alachua County Florida, is the proud home of the University of Florida Gators, but do you also know that it’s the perfect location for a family vacation? Here are six reasons Gainesville makes sense as the next stop on your list of must-visit family destinations.
1. It has museums that everyone will want to visit. Your kids, yes, but mom and dad, too. The Florida Museum has both rotating and permanent exhibits (dinosaurs, anyone?) including the kid-friendly Discovery Zone, and is home to hundreds of butterflies in the on-site Butterfly Rainforest. The Harn Museum of Art is welcoming to families, with scheduled activities and special family museum guidebooks to help kids understand the art. And who doesn’t love stargazing? It’s an activity enjoyed by adults and kids alike, and you can see shows at Santa Fe College’s Kika Silva Pla Planetarium.
2. Exploring nature means more than sitting on a beach. Alachua County is an outdoor enthusiast’s dream destination. Seriously. And the number of available outdoor activities is almost staggering. You can hike the trails at Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park; watch kangaroos and monkeys at Santa Fe College’s Teaching Zoo; visit the Retirement Home for Horses at Mill Creek Farm; go birding at Sweetwater Wetlands Park; check out the flora at Morningside Nature Center.
3. Restaurants have kids’ menus and booster seats. A family vacation needs a few family meals, and Gainesville has lots of family-friendly dining options. Have a slice at Satchel’s Pizza (named one of Buzzfeed’s 18 Pizza Joints You Must Try Before You Die), then go for dessert at Sweet Dreams Ice Cream. You can grab an always kid-friendly burger at Bev’s Better Burgers, or go for some comfort food followed by a little shopping at Pearl Country Store & Barbecue in Micanopy.
4. Gainesville has lots of places you’ll want to take selfies to share with your friends.
If your kids are getting older, it might hard to get them excited about the idea of taking a big family selfie together, but Gainesville has many photo opp locations for them to resist. A group shot while kayaking on the Santa Fe River is a familiar favorite, as is a photo in front of the Historic Thomas Center, one of the street murals, or along the Solar Walk. And if there are any Gator fans in the house, a picture with the Albert and Alberta gator statues on the UF campus is a must.
5. Your bank account will thank you. Most attractions in Gainesville are less than $15 for admission with reduced prices for children, and the reasonably priced and casual restaurant selections means eating out doesn’t break the bank. Gainesville also has a mix of accommodations, from bed-and-breakfasts to RV parks and campgrounds to standard hotels, so you’ll be able to find the right place for your budget.
6. Because time with your family matters to the most to you. Vacationing in Gainesville and Alachua County means less time standing in line at attractions and more time together making memories (and snapping selfies). Isn’t that what vacation is all about?