For many people, leading 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 allow residents to experience the tropical and 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, there are several places that will allow you to take in the greenery that surrounds this wonderful city. Parks such as San Felasco 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 pet-friendly and have free admission.
For residents who just can’t seem to stay away from the water, they’re in luck. Florida has the largest concentration of freshwater springs in the nation, and most of them 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. You can relax and socialize with friends and family as you float along the Ichetucknee River, which remains 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 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 sunset. Some even stay during later hours to watch the stars in the night sky — the viewing area is a popular place for meteor showers.
Aside from getting some much needed vitamin D, Gainesville’s endless list of outdoor activities provides residents with a variety of opportunities to learn about local wildlife. The Bat Houses at the University of Florida are home to 10,000 bats that help preserve yards, gardens and farms from pesky mosquitoes. About 60 to 80 butterfly species can be found at the Florida Museum of Natural History’s butterfly exhibit.
Whether you’re looking to get into shape or you just want to enjoy some leisure time with a loved one, Greater Gainesville has an outdoor destination for you.