Founded in 1869, Gainesville is one of the most desirable places to explore in Florida. It is known for art, culture, education, museums, and various historical landmarks. The City of Gainesville is home to the University of Florida, but it's far more than a typical college town. Our list will guide you to experience the best of what Gainesville, FL has to offer.
Step Back in Time
Florida Museum of Natural History:Set aside some hours to visit the Florida Museum of Natural History. The museum is packed full of Florida history, culture, ecology, and natural resources. Explore exhibits to understand Florida's surprising history from prehistoric days. Also, take time to visit the Butterfly Rainforest; you'll love it!
Matheson History Museum: Situated next to the 1867 Matheson House, the Matheson History Museumfeatures permanent and temporary exhibits on Alachua County's history. Take a closer look at the permanent exhibits, including a 1,400-year-old canoe, a recreation of the Matheson & Company Store, artifacts from the 1885 Alachua County Courthouse, and the history of Alachua County starting with the Timucua tribe.
Historic Haile Homestead at Kanapaha Plantation: Visit the Historic Haile Homestead to learn about the horrific reality of slavery. William and Lousia Watts, Johnson and Maria Chestnut, Edmund and Charity Kelley were only a few of the 56 enslaved people (according to the 1854 tax rolls) who built this historic 6,200 sq. ft. house. See the permanent exhibits at the Allen & Ethel Graham Visitors Center featuring photos, artifacts, and various information on the enslaved laborers at Kanapaha Plantation, other four Haile plantations, and two Chesnut plantations. The Alachua Conservation Trust has also started a program to trace ancestors. People, who want to connect to their enslaved ancestors on any of these plantations, can reach out to them; they will try to fill the gaps. This historic house is also known for its unique "Talking Walls." The Haile family wrote over 12,500 words on the walls of their home - in almost every room, including the closets!
Art and Culture
352 Walls: The 352 Walls/The Gainesville Urban Art Project was started in 2015 (352 is the area code for Gainesville). Check out how the local artists have transformed the historic downtown into vibrant public art canvases. At first, the project was started as a tourism development initiative. Gradually, it created a huge positive impact on the people who live, work, and play in downtown Gainesville. The murals help them to express their desire for a better world with love, peace, happiness, and social justice. Plan a one-hour free walking tour to check out and learn about the downtown murals at your own pace.
Harn Museum: The Samuel P. Harn Museum of Art is located on the UF campus. It is one of the largest art museums at a public university in the U.S. The museum offers more than 40,000 sq. ft. of exhibits and a permanent collection of over 9,000 historically and culturally diverse artworks. The Harn Museum also hosts temporary exhibitions that change throughout the year.
The Historic Thomas Center: Enjoy a delightful visit to The Historic Thomas Center. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the Thomas Center features art galleries, 1920's period rooms, and local history exhibits. Stroll the lovely gardens and explore the two art galleries. Make your journey to the past through the 1920's period rooms and local history exhibits. The Thomas Center is surrounded by the lovely Thomas Center Gardens and the Grace and Sidney Knight Children's Theatre.
The city of Gainesville is home to one of the largest universities in the United States, the University of Florida. The city welcomes you with unlimited things to do, historic landmarks, famous museums, and a plethora of cultural events. Please don't waste time thinking, book your stay at Hotel ELEO. Follow our guide to explore the top Gainesville attractions and landmarks during your stay.