Summertime in North Central Florida can be hot, hot, hot! We’ve got a few ideas to help you keep cool while you’re exploring Gainesville.
Start your day off with a visit to the Florida Museum of Natural History at the University of Florida’s Cultural Plaza. Admission is free and it’s a great way to learn about the natural history of the entire state of Florida. Not to mention, the Hall of Florida Fossils is pretty cool.
It’s an entire room dedicated to fossils of creatures that live or lived in Florida at one time. One of the most unique features of the collection is the wall of shark jaws. There are even jaws three feet tall with teeth as big as your hand. Throughout the year the museum usually has traveling exhibits as well, like Cruisin’ the Fossil Freeway which combines archaeology with art.
Once you’re ready liven things up a bit, you’re ready to experience the museum’s Lepidoptera (butterfly and moth) collection, which is one of the largest ones in the country. There are researchers at work around the clock pinning specimens. Many of these can be seen on the gigantic Wall of Wings. If you prefer a more up close look, stop by the Butterfly Rainforest. For a small admission fee you can enter the giant screened enclosure that houses different species of butterflies, moths, birds and even a few fish. You will be amazed at how many butterflies flutter around, landing on flowers and fruit to feed. It really is a unique experience. (Insiders Tip: If you wear white, or light colored clothing the butterflies are more likely to land on you.)
Next, follow the sidewalk next door to the Harn Museum of Art. The Harn has one of the largest collections of art on a college campus anywhere in the U.S. Since their collection is so large you can be sure that you will see something different every time you visit. They have a little something for everyone with their modern, contemporary, photography, African, and Asian art collections. This spring the Harn recently expanded, opening a brand new Asian Art wing featuring art from all over Asia and two Asian gardens.
Once you’ve fed your cultural appetite, you’ll want to feed your sweet tooth. Just a few blocks away from the Cultural Plaza is Sweet Dreams Ice Cream. All of their flavors are homemade in the shop and they offer traditional flavors like chocolate and strawberry and several more uncommon flavors like Spicy Mayan Chocolate, Florida Mango and Peach Ginger. It’s great for kids and those who are still a kid at heart.
For those looking for more ‘grown up’ tastes, stop by the Swamp Head Brewery tasting room off Archer Road and try a few local craft brews. Swamp Head has really made a name for themselves in the Craft Beer world, especially in Florida. With their cleverly named brews like Stumpknocker Pale Ale and Cotton Mouth Belgian Wheat Beer, they capture the spirit of the Swamp, especially.
Round out your ‘cool’ day in Gainesville with a show at The Hippodrome State Theatre in Downtown. ‘The Hipp’, as it is called by locals is about to celebrate their 40 th season with a fantastic lineup. You’ll be able to catch plays like ‘Avenue Q’, ‘Robin Hood’ and a stage adaptation of the movie ‘Carrie’. The mainstage has a really intimate atmosphere and you really feel like you’re a part of all the action.
Stay tuned for our next blog, where we’ll give a few more ideas for staying cool! In the meantime, be sure to check out VisitGainesville.com for everything Gainesville!
– Anna Mikell