Best known as “The Swamp” and home to the University of Florida Gators, the city of Gainesville stretches across I-75 and North Florida, with only Paynes Prairie to keep it spreading south. And though it’s easy to lose yourself in the university life and suburban sprawl, there are a surprising number of parks and recreational areas, and of course swamps to remind you that you are indeed in “the swamp.”
Things to do in Gainesville
December launched upon us like a cast net over unsuspecting wild shiners, and now we face Christmas in only a few short weeks. The Florida highways have filled with snowbirds escaping the blustery north (flurries in Michigan already), making it a challenging time to navigate the Florida traffic. For a quick escape during those hectic Christmas shopping trips- a short hop from the Oaks Mall in Gainesville is the Florida Museum of Natural History. From Wicked Plants to a Butterfly Rainforest and even a limestone cave, there’s loads of family fun hidden in this North Central Florida gem.
Wednesday afternoon I faced my childhood fears and took the family hiking with gators on Gainesville’s La Chua Trail on the North Rim of Florida’s Paynes Prairie State Park. “Chua,” the Timucuan Indian word for sinkhole, is a 3 mile trail from the Alachua Sink out to an observation platform in the prairie. Gators galore, and NOT the orange and blue kind! Yes. It was terrifying.