For many people, having an active lifestyle is an important part of choosing where they live. For residents in the Greater Gainesville area, there is no better place to be active and spend some time outdoors. Gainesville offers residents a variety of outdoor recreational activities, including hiking, horseback riding, tubing, scuba diving, cave diving, cycling, kayaking and exploring.
The variety of trails allows residents to experience the tropical, Southern scenery and natural wonders that Gainesville has to offer, whether you’re taking a light stroll on date night or looking for an intense workout. Parks, such as San Felasco Hammock Preserve State Park, Kanapaha Botanical Gardens and Morningside Nature Center, give people the opportunity to observe local wildlife in their natural habitats. Many of the parks are free and pet-friendly.
For residents who just can’t seem to stay away from the water, Florida has the largest concentration of freshwater springs in the nation. Most are located right in the heart of Greater Gainesville. Poe Springs Park and Ginnie Springs allow visitors to experience various aquatic activities such as scuba diving and tubing. Relax and socialize with friends and family as you float in the Ichetucknee Springs, which remain a crisp, 72 degrees year-round. What is fascinating about these springs is that many of them have provided researchers with fossils and remains that have allowed them to uncover much about Florida’s natural history.
Activities such as stargazing, hiking, horseback riding and cycling are all available at Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park. This 21,000-acre park is home to 20 biological communities and over 300 species of birds. A 50-foot-tall observation tower allows visitors to see the entire park at once. Visitors especially enjoy cycling through the trails and watching the sun set. Some even stay late to watch the stars in the night sky — the viewing area is a popular place to observe meteor showers.
Aside from an abundance of sunshine, Gainesville’s endless outdoor activities provide residents with opportunities to learn about local wildlife. The Bat Houses at the University of Florida are home to 400,000 bats that help protect yards, gardens and farms from pesky mosquitoes. The University provides information for residents to see how the bats’ presence help the biological community. And the Florida Museum of Natural History’s butterfly exhibit holds over 50 butterfly and moth species with information on each.
Whether you are hoping to enjoy some rigorous activities or just spend some leisure time with a loved one, Greater Gainesville has an outdoor destination for you.