Florida

Gainesville, Florida

A- Overview:
Home of the “Swamp” and the famous Florida Gators, this Florida city has a life and culture all its own. In Gainesville, as well as the surrounding areas, visitors can explore the beautiful rivers, lakes, cool natural springs and unspoiled wilderness parks of an exquisite sub-tropical region. Easy US Interstate-75 access allows exploration of many of the nearby natural attractions from cycling, canoeing, hiking, camping, bird-watching and fishing to tubing down the famous Suwannee River.

Long before the Spaniards arrived in Florida, Gainesville’s combination of fertile soil, broad prairies, clear lakes and abundant game had attracted a complex Native American Civilization known as the Timucuan. Throughout the sixteenth century Spanish explorers, including Hernando DeSoto, ranged across the region seeking land and treasure. Next, Franciscan priests founded missions, and finally ranchers established a large cattle ranch on Payne’s Prairie. During the early 1700s the English and their indigenous allies destroyed these missions and later the Seminole established settlements around Micanopy.

One of the most significant events in the more recent history of the County occurred in 1905 when Gainesville was chosen as the site for the University of Florida. The University opened a year later with 102 students, fifteen faculty and two unfinished buildings. Twenty years later the student body numbered 2000 who attended classes in thirteen Gothic-style buildings including a library, a gymnasium and an auditorium. By the 1930s, the University had become the focus of the County’s economy, helping it weather both the land boom collapse of the mid-1920s and the long depression of the 1930s. At the turn of the 21st century, the student population had grown to over 44,000, and the upward trend continues today.

In addition to the University, visitors can experience the thrill of drag racing at the Gainesville Raceway. With a quarter-mile drag strip 167 feet above sea level, it’s a thrilling experience. For a little Florida history, take a trip along the Old Florida Heritage Highway. Located along U.S. 441 from Williston Rd. to the Marion County Line, there are 48 miles of U.S.441 just south of Gainesville providing a vista of rural landscape, cattle, state parks and historic towns.

Nearby are a host of once-in-a lifetime adventures. Visitors can canoe down the Santa Fe or Ichetucknee Rivers near High Springs, hike the trails at O’Leno State Park in High Springs, see the sink holes at Peacock Springs near Branford, even canoe down the Suwannee River made famous by composer Stephen Foster, or take a houseboat cruise along the Suwannee River near the west coast of Florida. In addition, just two hours south of Gainesville is Orlando, home of the Walt Disney World Resort and the most popular vacation destination in the world.

Due to its location in sunny central Florida, any time of year is fine for a visit to Gainesville. It is a busy time of year when the University of Florida is in full session (and anytime the Florida Gators are playing a home football game). Winter tends to be even busier as visitors from the north visit Gainesville while also stopping in at other areas in Florida. With the exception of a few summer days, temperatures are quite pleasant. Winter brings a midday high near 70 making it ideal for any of the many outdoor activities available. Spring and fall bring a rise in temperature during the day but evenings are just cool enough for a relaxing dinner at one of the city’s many fine restaurants followed by a stroll through the area or on the University campus. The heat and humidity rise in summer, making it the perfect time of year for a dip in the pool and a cool drink. Whatever the season or whatever the reason for visiting, this true Florida City has something for everyone.

B- City Information:
Population: 95,447

Elevation: 18.3 feet above sea level

Land Area: 48.2 square miles

Location: Located in the north central section of Florida, near Interstate 75

Time Zone: Eastern Time Zone (when it’s noon in Gainesville, it’s 11am in Chicago and 9am in Los Angeles). Gainesville observes Daylight Savings Time from April – October

Weather:

Jan
Feb
Mar
Apr
May
Jun
Jul
Aug
Sep
Oct
Nov
Dec

Average temp. (°F)
54.3
57.0
62.6
67.6
74.3
79.2
80.9
80.4
77.8
70.1
62.8
56.3

High temperature (°F)
66.3
69.4
75.2
80.5
86.6
89.9
90.9
90.1
87.5
81.1
74.5
68.2

Low temperature (°F)
42.3
44.7
49.9
54.6
62.0
68.4
70.8
70.6
68.1
59.1
51.0
44.3

Precipitation (in)
3.6
3.4
4.3
2.9
3.2
6.8
6.2
6.8
4.4
2.5
2.2
2.6

Climate:

Jan
Feb
Mar
Apr
May
Jun
Jul
Aug
Sep
Oct
Nov
Dec

Days with precipitation
9
7
8
6
7
15
16
16
12
7
7
7

Wind speed (mph)
6.9
7.4
7.8
7.2
6.9
6.1
5.6
5.4
5.8
6.3
6.2
6.0

Morning humidity (%)
90
90
91
91
91
88
89
91
96
94
93
91

Afternoon humidity (%)
60
56
53
50
50
56
59
60
64
61
60
61

Sunshine (%)
58
62
68
73
71
66
65
64
59
61
61
55

Local Seasons:

It is a busy time of year when the University of Florida is in full session (and anytime the Florida Gators are playing a home football game). Winter tends to be even busier as visitors from the north visit Gainesville while also visiting other areas in Florida. With the exception of a few summer days, temperatures are quite pleasant. Winter brings a midday high near 70 making it ideal for any of the many outdoor activities available. Spring and fall bring a rise in temperature during the day but evenings are just cool enough for a relaxing dinner at one of the city’s many fine restaurants followed by a stroll through the area or on the University campus. The heat and humidity rise in summer, making it the perfect time of year for a dip in the pool and a cool drink.

How to Get There:

By Air

Gainesville Regional Airport

3880 N.E. 39th Avenue

Gainesville, Florida 32609

352-373-0249

This regional airport is served by some of the nationally recognized connection carriers for the major airlines as well as operating as a general aviation facility for private and corporate aircraft.

Ground Transportation

Many of the major car rental companies as well as taxi and limousine services are available at the airport and at select locations throughout the city.

By Car

Interstate 75 skirts Gainesville on the west, it links with major metropolitan centers such as Atlanta and the Tampa-St. Petersburg area. U.S. Routes 301 and 441 and State Route 26 join Gainesville with other communities in Alachua County and in northern Florida.

By Train

Amtrak

Located on the corner of SE 1st Avenue and 1st Street

800-USA-RAIL

Call for schedule and additional information

This service connects the Gainesville station with Amtrak’s Palatka rail station, meeting southbound trains serving Orlando, West Palm Beach, Ft. Lauderdale, and Miami; and northbound trains to Savannah, Raleigh, Richmond, Washington, Philadelphia, and New York.

By Bus

Greyhound

516 SW 4TH Ave

Gainesville FL 32601

352-376-5252

Call for schedule and additional information

How to Get Around:

With so many things to see and do, both in the city as well as throughout the surrounding area, the best way to get around is by either personal or rental car.

In addition, local area bus service is provided by the Regional Transit System (RTS), which also offers mini-bus transportation for people who are disabled.

352-334-2600. Call for additional information

National Holidays:

New Year’s Day, Jan. 1

Martin Luther King, Jr., Day 3rd Mon. in Jan.

President’s Day, 3rd Mon. in Feb.

Memorial Day, last Mon. in May

Independence Day, July 4

Labor Day, 1st Mon. in Sept.

Thanksgiving Day, 4th Thurs. in Nov.

Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, Dec. 24 and 25

New Year’s Eve, Dec. 31

C- Attractions/Things To Do:
University of Florida Sports – The Gators

Gainesville, FL 32604

800-344-2867

Call for game schedule and additional information

The University offers a host of spectator sports throughout the year, including: Baseball, Basketball (men and women), Cross Country, Football, Golf, Gymnastics, Soccer, Softball, Swimming and Diving (men and women), Tennis (men and women), Track, and Volleyball.

Florida Museum of History

S.W. 34th St. and Hull Rd
Gainesville, FL 32611
352-846-2000

Mon – Sat 10 am – 5 pm; Sun & state holidays 1 – 5 pm. Closed Thanksgiving and Christmas

Admission Charged

In the Hall of Florida Fossils: Evolution of Life and Land, guests learn about Florida’s fossils and geologic and environmental changes over 65 million years. South Florida People & Environments explain the story of native people in South Florida and their environments. Northwest Florida: Waterways and Wildlife displays a full-sized replica of a North Florida limestone cave. The Butterfly Rainforest houses hundreds of living butterflies, waterfalls and tropical plants.

NHRA/Gainesville Raceway

11211 N. C.R. 225
Gainesville, FL 32609
352-377-0046

Open year round, closed most major holidays. Call for additional information

Admission Charged

Gainesville Raceway home of the Mac Tools NHRA Gatornationals. The quarter-mile drag strip is 167 feet above sea level, runs west to east, VIP tower suites for catered meals, press briefings, or classroom instruction, numerous well-maintained permanent restroom facilities, significant lighted areas, outdoor seating for 32,000, complete perimeter security fencing, corporate hospitality village. In addition to the drag strip a road course/test track and off-road course are available for rental.

Old Florida Heritage Highway

Along U.S. 441 from Williston Rd. to the Marion County Line
Gainesville, FL 32667
850-410-5894

Open year round

Admission Free

48 miles of U.S.441 just south of Gainesville provide a vista of rural landscape, cattle, state parks and historic towns.

Samuel P. Harn Museum of Art

S.W. 34th St. and Hull Rd
Gainesville, FL 32611
352-392-9826

Tues. – Fri. 11 am – 5 pm; Sat. 10 am – 5 pm; Sun. 1 – 5 pm. Closed state holidays and Mondays

Admission Charged

Located on the University of Florida campus in Gainesville, the Harn Museum of Art is one of the largest university art museums in the southeastern United States. Along with important loans from other sources, the museum’s permanent collections feature American, African, pre-Columbian, Asian, and contemporary works of art. The museum offers a broad range of programs from film and lecture series to workshops and performances.

Matheson Museum
513 E. University Avenue
Gainesville, FL 32601
352-378-2280

Open Sunday 1pm – 5pm

Admission Free

The Alachua County Historic Trust: Matheson Museum, Inc. is dedicated to preserving and interpreting the history of Alachua County, Florida. The Museum complex includes 4 sites: the Matheson Museum, housing the exhibit hall and research library, the Matheson House, the Tison Tool Museum, and Sweetwater Park.

The Matheson House

513 E. University Avenue
Gainesville, FL 32601
352-378-2280

The Matheson House is open the first Sunday of each month from 1pm – 4pm for tours.

Admission Charged

The house belonged to Douglas Matheson, an emigrant from South Carolina and a prominent merchant, who bequeathed it to his son Chris, the city’s mayor from 1910 to 1917, a state legislator, and later, a minister. Chris’ wife Sarah deeded the house to the Trust upon her death in 1996. A blend of South Carolina plantation and Classic Revival raised cottage architecture, the Matheson House incorporates Gothic decorative elements in roof finials and an interior stairway. The gambrel roof and ceiling to ground porch columns are uncommon in Florida. Inside, period furniture and personal possessions are a testament to a family’s history, and that of Gainesville itself.

The Tison Tool Museum

513 E. University Avenue
Gainesville, FL 32601
352-378-2280

The Tison Tool Museum is open by appointment only

Admission Charged

The Tison Tool Museum houses the unique tool collection of Gainesville native John Mason Tison, Jr. Built by Tison in 1993 and reconstructed on the Matheson site in 1998, the structure—and the tools it preserves—honor the skill and artistry that created Alachua County’s built environment.

Sweetwater Park

513 E. University Avenue
Gainesville, FL 32601
352-378-2280

Open daily, call for additional information

Admission Free

Located directly behind the Museum, the park is a joint effort of the Matheson Museum and the City of Gainesville. The Park is an outdoor museum in the heart of the city. A Walk Through History, a 12-panel local history exhibition, lines the walkways that meander through the park; the area’s natural history is interpreted in native plant clusters and a formal Southern garden. As a neighborhood and community space, the park offers quiet benches along Sweetwater Branch Creek, the city’s original eastern boundary, and a children’s playground.

Nearby:

European Rally & Performance Driving School

7266 Airport Rd
Starke, FL 32091
352-473-2999

Open year round, Mon – Fri 8:30am – 5:30pm

Admission Charged

The ultimate motor sport experience. Drive real rally cars, on real roads, real fast, just like the professionals. Slide and drift, take jumps, use the E brake for hairpin turns, left foot brake and more. Use our two-wheel drive or powerful all wheel drive cars. One to five day courses available. One and two day Karting courses, also one and three day ATV courses.

Day Trips:

Canoe down the Santa Fe or Ichetucknee Rivers near High Springs.

386-454-2050

Hike the trails at O’Leno State Park in High Springs.

386-454-1857

Explore the sink holes at Peacock Springs near Branford.

386-776-2194

Just two hours south of Gainesville, the Walt Disney World Resort is the most popular vacation destination in the world.

407-WDisney

Visit the Olustee Battlefield State Historic Site near Lake City in the town of Olustee.

386-752-3866

Visit the Florida Sports Hall of Fame in Lake City which showcases world-class sports celebrities whose roots are in Florida.

386-758-1310

Visit the Columbia County Historical Museum in Lake City, located in a historical home styled in the unique Southern Rural Italianate architecture.

386-755-1517

Visit the Stephen Foster State Folk Culture Center in White Springs located on the banks of the Suwannee River. The center features a crafters’ center, the Stephen Foster Museum, a gift shop, and the remains of a sulfur spring house.

904-397-2733

Canoe down the Suwannee River made famous by composer Stephen Foster.

904-428-4171

Take a houseboat cruise along the Suwannee River near the west coast of Florida.

800-458-BOAT

E- Events & Entertainment:
Events & Entertainment

January and February

The Hoggetowne Medieval Faire

Held in late January – early February

Location: Downtown Gainesville

352-334-ARTS

Step back in time, cheer on royal knights as they joust on horseback and charge head-on at a full gallop with only a lance and shield to defend themselves. Watch a chess game played out with human chess pieces on the Living Chessboard. Laugh along with jugglers, magicians and a colorful cast of characters. In the marketplace visitors will find more than 140 skilled artisans selling and demonstrating their time-honored arts and crafts of the Middle Ages. Feel the exhilaration of human powered push rides and live animal rides. Prepare to be tempted by the delicacies of the Food Court, where even a King’s appetite can be pleased. For many years the Hoggetowne Medieval Faire has been one of the most highly anticipated festivals in North Central Florida.

May – September

“Let’s Go Downtown” Plaza Series

Held May – September

Location: Downtown Community Plaza

352-334-5064

From May to September, the Downtown Community Plaza comes alive every Friday night as local talent and other cultural events are showcased under the stars. Hundreds come out to enjoy free live bands, theater groups, dance performances, Movies on the Plaza, and much more. The Plaza is located on the corner of SE 1st St. and E. University Ave. in historic downtown.

September-November

Artsreach

Held mid September – mid November

Location: Varies

352-334-5064

Call for additional information

The Artsreach Program, established in 1984 by the City of Gainesville, proudly welcomes visitors to changing exhibitions by talented local artists at ‘Art in City Hall’, ‘Art in the Alachua County Administration Building’ and ‘Art in the Gainesville-Regional Airport’. Many of the artists represented are ‘local and sometimes national treasures’ that rise to the level of regional, national and international prominence.

November

Downtown Festival and Art Show

Held in early November

Location: Downtown Gainesville

352-334-5064

Call for additional information

Downtown Gainesville hosts one of North Central Florida’s most exciting fall festivals of the arts.
The streets of historic downtown Gainesville come alive as thousands of spectators enjoy over 250 colorful artist’s displays by the region’s finest artists who bring one of a kind paintings, ceramics, jewelry, photography and more. This highly acclaimed event has been rated among the top 200 best shows in the country by Sunshine Artist Magazine, which voted it one of the best in the nation. Enjoy three stages of continuous live music and performances, create art with the kids at the “Imagination Station”, and indulge in food from around the world.

Jazz Festival

Held in early November

Location: Downtown Gainesville

352-334-5064

Call for additional information

As part of the Downtown Festival, the Jazz Festival proudly presents a free concert featuring well-known national artists as well as a host of other activities. With more than 25 local groups and acts on three stages of entertainment, there is an exhilarating flair to two days of continuous music and fun.

December

Downtown Countdown: A New Year’s Celebration

Held in late December

Location: Downtown Gainesville

352- 334-5064

Downtown Gainesville’s New Year’s entertainment is second to none. Ring in the New Year with music, lights, prizes, giveaways, food vendors, and radio station remotes. Nationally and locally known performing artists electrify the night at the Downtown Community Plaza, as the brick-lined streets are energized by thousands celebrating another year.

Entertainment:

Acrosstown Repertory Theatre

619 South Main Street

Gainesville, FL 32601

352-375-1321

Call for performance schedule and additional information

Since its inception in 1980, the Acrosstown Repertory Theatre has provided Gainesville and Alachua County with a unique and innovative cultural experience. There are many opportunities for exploring acting, writing, directing, and production for many diverse sectors of our community, especially for those who otherwise might not enjoy such opportunities. Citizens of all ages, races, and socio-economic backgrounds participate in the theatre’s activities. Professional and novice playwrights, poets, and other creative artists have enjoyed having their works staged.

High Springs Community Theater
130 NE 1st Avenue

High Springs, FL 32643
386-454-3525

Call for performance schedule and additional information

High Springs Community Theater is a private, nonprofit corporation whose mission is to stage high quality amateur theater productions using the donated talents of residents of High Springs and surrounding communities. HSCT produces four main stage productions each year, and a Summer Youth Theater Program.

The Hippodrome State Theatre

25 SE 2nd Place
Gainesville, FL 32601
352-375-4477

Call for performance schedule and additional information

The Hippodrome State Theatre is one of North Florida’s only professional regional theatres. Celebrating its artistic excellence, the Hippodrome is designated as a Cultural Institution and a State Theatre of Florida. A cornerstone of the artistic life of North Florida, the Hippodrome is also a landmark of the downtown Gainesville landscape, occupying a beautifully restored historic building built in 1911.

University of Florida Performing Arts
315 Hull Road

Gainesville, FL 32611
352-392-ARTS (2787)

Call for performance schedule and additional information

A joy of the performing arts is experiencing artists from around the globe and gaining an intimate view of their cultures. Performers hailing from Peru, Hungary, Russia, Italy, the United Kingdom, Africa, New Zealand, Ireland, Germany, Canada, India and the Czech Republic are represented at the University, complementing American artists and companies that grace the stages.

Gainesville Symphony Orchestra

352-336-5448

Call for performance schedule and additional information

Dance Alive

1325 NW Second Street

Gainesville, FL 32601

352-373-1166

Call for performance schedule and additional information

As a regional ballet company, the Dance Alive performances are held at The Phillips Center for Performing Arts at the University of Florida.

Sports:

University of Florida Sports – The Gators

Gainesville, FL 32604

800-344-2867

Call for game schedule and additional information

The University offers a host of spectator sports throughout the year, including: Baseball, Basketball (men and women), Cross Country, Football, Golf, Gymnastics, Soccer, Softball, Swimming and Diving (men and women), Tennis (men and women), Track, and Volleyball.