Greater Gainesville is centrally located to three unique weekend getaway destinations, all with travel times starting at only two hours away. These destinations include the geographic regions known as the Sun Coast, the First Coast and the Greater Orlando area.
The Sun Coast
This area of Florida borders the Gulf of Mexico and stretches from Tampa south to Sarasota and includes St. Petersburg. Warm gulf water beaches and over 70 miles of barrier islands create a beautiful sunny backdrop to your weekend activities — whether you are working on your tan or going fishing. There are extensive recreational parks including a 37-mile running and cycling trail and beautiful botanical gardens including the exotic Bok Tower Gardens. The Sun Coast boasts over 14 museums including the world renowned Salvador Dali Museum, multiple concert venues and several professional sports league teams. Also within the area are five theme parks including Busch Gardens and five zoos including Lowry Park Zoo.
The First Coast
This area of Florida borders the Atlantic Ocean and stretches from Jacksonville south to Palatka and includes St. Augustine. Miles of beaches and aquatic activities abound in this region including the Jacksonville Kingfish Tournament that awards over $500,000 in prizes each year. Among spectator activities to consider is the Gate River Run 15K event, which draws over 13,000 runners, spectators and volunteers every year. The First Coast has over 337 park locations equaling over 80,000 acres of parks and conservation areas. This area is also home to over nine museums including the Cummer Museum of Art and Gardens and three large upscale malls including the new urban-designed St. Johns Town Center. With multiple concert and entertainment venues, the region hosts the second largest jazz festival in the U.S. The jewel of the First Coast is St. Augustine, the oldest established city in the U.S. founded by Spain in 1565. It boasts a quaint old town area with craft and gift shops, restaurants and taverns.
Greater Orlando Area
Just south of Greater Gainesville centered in the state is the Greater Orlando Area reaching north to Sanford and south to Kissimmee. Orlando is known as the theme park capital of the world, with more than 10 theme parks including Walt Disney World and Universal Studios. Five of the world’s TOP 10 theme parks and four of the U.S.’s most visited water parks can all be found here. Greater Orlando boasts over 25 museums including the Titanic Artifact Exhibit, over 83 parks, eight zoos and aquariums and over 17 recreation areas. The region is home to two professional major league teams, various concert and entertainment venues and multiple golf courses including the home of the annual Arnold Palmer Invitational. Greater Orlando also boasts exceptional shopping, hotels and restaurants from budget friendly to upscale.