We all know Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, a.k.a. The Swamp, won’t exactly be welcoming when LSU visits for homecoming. However, there are lots of places waiting to offer you a good time when coming to Gainesville and Alachua County, Florida. Here’s a list of things to do during your Swamp Invasion to make your trip complete.
Learn and make discoveries at Museums. The Florida Museum features both rotating and permanent exhibits as it celebrates 100 years in 2017. The connected Butterfly Rainforest is home to hundreds of flying butterflies in a tropical setting. The Harn Museum of Art collections consist of more than 10,000 works of art. Special events and tours help understand the artwork in the exhibits. The history of small towns in this area can be explored at The Matheson Museum, or in the historical museums like those in Micanopy, High Springs, and Hawthorne. And you can even explore the stars at Santa Fe College’s Kika Silva Pla Planetarium.
Explore this area’s natural attractions. Alachua County is an outdoor enthusiast’s dream destination. Find real alligators and hike the trails at Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park. Go birding and view the wildlife from the trails at Sweetwater Wetlands Park. Marvel in the collections at Kanapaha Botanical Gardens. Watch otters, lemurs, and squirrel monkeys at Santa Fe College’s Teaching Zoo. Bring some carrots as admission when you visit the Retirement Home for Horses at Mill Creek Farm. Or climb the steps down the 120-food sinkhole at Devil’s Millhopper Geological State Park.
When you get hungry, the local food scene will hit the spot. If you’re up for it, you can crash the orange & blue crowd at The Swamp Restaurant (located across from the stadium). Grab a pizza at Satchel’s, Ameraucana Pizzeria, Big Lou’s, and Blue Highway to name just a few. Slice into a steak at Ember’s Wood Grill, Mark’s Prime Steakhouse, and Backstreet Blues Chophouse. Small town finds include the legendary barbeque in a gas station at Pearl Country Store in Micanopy, or the river and springs themed atmosphere at The Great Outdoors in High Springs. For dessert, the homemade ice cream and unique flavors at Sweet Dreams Ice Cream is always a hit, or broaden your culinary horizons at Sabore Restaurant in Tioga Town Center. And by the end of the day if you’re still thirsty, craft beer breweries like Swamp Head Brewery and First Magnitude Brewing Company are sure to have a pint with your name on it.
Burn off calories with some exercise. Biking the paved Gainesville-Hawthorne Trail or dirt trails at San Felasco Hammock Preserve State Park are great ways to get a workout and explore nature at the same time.
Take those selfies. Gainesville and Alachua County have plenty of options for taking and sharing photos. Near The Swamp, don’t miss the statues Albert and Alberta, the Gators mascots. Head out to High Springs and the Santa Fe River for a serene natural backdrop. The oldest inland town in Florida, Micanopy, delivers on the Old Florida charm. Follow the 352walls mural tour for gorgeous examples of urban art.