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Ready to get away from the hustle and take some time to enjoy nature?

Gainesville has fantastic places to go!

Article by Showcase Properties of North Central Florida

Photography by Anna Duhame, Showcase Properties of Central Florida

Originally published in Gainesville City Lifestyle

Here in Florida, we’re lucky to have an actual, real Spring, with temperate weather that’s perfect for getting outdoors and exploring a little. Everyone seems to be ready to stretch their legs and get out of the house, and with the glorious mild temperatures coming back, it’s the ideal time to start looking around and seeing what’s in our own backyard. 



Gainesville has fantastic places to go and traipse around for a day or an afternoon, and we have some suggestions for you. You’d be surprised at the variety of flora and fauna that call this region home – everything from butterflies to alligators, nature walks and adventure tours, with little respites of shade and solace tucked in amongst the bustle. So whether you’re interested in a leisurely hike and quiet picnic, an educational study, or a high-adrenaline challenge on a mountain bike – you can find something that’s absolutely perfect within minutes of downtown Gainesville. 

Here is a short list of just a few State Parks, State Forests, and Conservation preserves within a short driving distance where you can get away from the hustle and take some time to enjoy nature.

Newnans Lake State Forest

  • 1000 acres with hiking/biking trails 

  • Canoeing and kayaking

  • Bird and Wildlife Species, including bald eagle nests

  • Various tree species, including gum, red maple, hickory, and magnolia

Devil’s Millhopper Geological State Park

  • Visit this mini-rainforest 120 feet deep in natural sink 

  • Geologists, botanists, and paleontologists have been studying marine shells and fossilized remains found here 

  • National Natural Landmark 

  • Picnicking, Tours, Wildlife Viewing, HIking, Interpretive Exhibits

Serenola Forest Preserve

  • Public trails for hiking and biking

  • Dogs welcome 

  • Picknicking 

  • Wildlife study and photography

Sweetwater Wetlands Park

  • 125 acres of man-made wetlands and ponds

  • Birds, butterflies, alligators and Florida cracker horses

  • Hiking and viewing platforms

  • Educational Tours 

  • Photography permitted

Looking for some ideas for your day trip? Check out this helpful guide of “10 Things to Do In Florida State Forests” courtesy of the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. They have pointers on where to camp, where to boat and fish, what the best hunting areas are, and the places where you can step inside history:

We also recommend these sites to help you find a park or recreational haven that’s perfect for you:

Be sure to visit the park websites to check for hours, fees (if any), and rules before you go. Make sure to pack plenty of water, sunscreen, and snacks, and check to see that your phone is charged up – just in case of emergency. Then get outside!