15 Fun Family-Friendly Things to Do in Gainesville with Kids

The city of Gainesville is a paradise for entertaining kids.

Despite its reputation as a college town, the city offers a variety of activities suitable for families.

What’s more, it’s teeming with fun and instructive activities that are just right for young, inquisitive brains.

We’ve put up a guide to the top things to do in Gainesville with kids.

  1. Butterfly Rainforest

This 6-and-a-half-thousand-square-foot section of the Florida Museum of Natural History is one of the fascinating family destinations in the city.

Why Your Family Should Go

The Butterfly Rainforest is an animal paradise. Lovers and your kid will enjoy it there.

Over a thousand beautiful, free-flying butterflies call this place home; it also provides refuge for various birds, fish, and turtles.

And, of course, it’s also a great learning opportunity for kids.

What to Do with Kids

Observe the graceful fluttering of butterflies and the soaring of birds.

One can take a relaxing stroll through its verdant landscapes while taking in the sights and sounds of its waterfall.

Recommended Ages

Visits to the Butterfly Rainforest are restricted to those over age 3.

  1. Florida Museum of Natural History

This magnificent structure is the official natural history museum of Florida, and it is located on the campus of the University of Florida.

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Why Your Family Should Go

Searching for kid-friendly activities that are both entertaining and instructive in Gainesville?

If you’re looking for things to do with kids in Gainesville, this museum should be on your list.

This museum showcases the natural history of Florida and houses a collection of more than 40 million objects and specimens.

It’s a great way to get kids thinking outside the box and interested in protecting the world’s biodiversity.

What to Do with Kids

Bring your kids’ creative juices by showing them the massive shark jaws and life-size mastodon skeletons.

After that, check out the Northwest Florida display to learn more about the state of Florida’s cultural and historical background.

Recommended Ages

The Florida Museum of Natural History has a lot to offer for families with kids over three.

  1. Kanapaha Botanical Gardens

This 68-acre garden was established in 1978 and is home to Florida’s most extensive public herb garden and bamboo displays.

Why Your Family Should Go

There is peace and beauty in the Kanapaha.

Visit this botanical paradise and stroll along its 1.5-mile paved trail to explore 24 significant plant collections.

Amazingly, there are some kid-friendly goodies in the garden as well.

What to Do with Kids

Take the kids to the Children’s Gardens to marvel at flora and fauna in an environment designed specifically for them.

You may also explore the ethereal Bamboo garden and listen to the relaxing sounds of nature.

Recommended Ages

Visitors of all ages will enjoy the Kanapaha.

  1. Sweetwater Wetlands Park

This park is ideal for family outings and group gatherings since its 264 acres are large enough to accommodate a wide range of recreational pursuits.

Why Your Family Should Go

If you’re a parent in Gainesville seeking inexpensive activities for your children, look no further than Sweetwater.

The park’s greenery, paths, and vantage points make it a great place to take the kids for a low-cost weekend of entertainment.

What to Do with Kids

Stroll around the park, and you might see some local fauna, such as Florida cracker horses, butterflies, and birds.

There are also educational tours, signs, and a total of 3.5 kilometers of boardwalks and paths.

Recommended Ages

Kids of all ages, especially those older than three, will enjoy spending time in Sweetwater Wetlands Park.

  1. Haile Homestead

In 1856, the Haile Homestead was first constructed as part of a more extensive cotton plantation.

The “Talking Walls” at this location have made it a well-known tourist destination.

Why Your Family Should Go

Have kids who want to learn some history in Gainesville but don’t know where to start?

The Haile Homestead is worth a trip, so why not take one?

This plantation home is so laden with a history that it was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1986.

What to Do with Kids

For nearly 12,500 words of the Haile family’s history, see “Talking Walls,” written by the Haile children themselves.

Visual works, culinary creations, poetic musings, and personal diaries adorn these walls.

The Allen & Ethel Graham Visitor Center houses even more Graham family history exhibits.

Recommended Ages

Haile Homestead is a fascinating educational opportunity for kids older than 6.

  1. Santa Fe College Teaching Zoo

Despite its modest size, Santa Fe College’s 10-acre zoological garden is well worth a visit.

Why Your Family Should Go

Visiting the zoo is an excellent activity for families in Gainesville.

The AZA has accredited this zoo since 2000, and is home to more than 700 different species of animals.

And maybe most significantly, there are many learning-focused shows to choose from.

What to Do with Kids

Participate in an up-close experience with some of the zoo’s most fascinating inhabitants.

In addition, it has a multi-level playground where the kids may burn off some energy.

Visit the park during one of its special events, such as Boo at the Zoo, for an unforgettable adventure.

Recommended Ages

Children older than six will like the Santa Fe College Teaching Zoo very much.

  1. Depot Park

This urban park spans 32 acres and is located close to the heart of Gainesville, Florida.

Why Your Family Should Go

Depot Park is a must-visit for any family visiting Gainesville with young children.

This park has a wide variety of play structures that will provide hours of fun for children of all ages.

The park’s shady picnic spaces make it a great place to unwind, even if you’re traveling with a young child.

What to Do with Kids

The playground equipment at the park allows children to run, jump, climb, and slide.

Additionally, a giant chess board is outside for your use, surrounded by beautiful landscaping.

The blue cave features a tiny waterfall and water cannons for guests to splash around.

Recommended Ages

To put it simply, Depot Park is jam-packed with enjoyable activities for people of all ages.

  1. Cade Museum for Creativity & Invention

Dr. James Robert Cade devoted 26,000 square feet of his life to erecting this educational and inspirational museum.

Why Your Family Should Go

Visiting the Cade Museum is a memorable and worthwhile experience for adults and children visiting Gainesville.

The museum’s hands-on exhibits and interactive stations could spark an interest in science and technology in a young member of your family.

What to Do with Kids

Experience the joy of getting lost in the museum’s hallways while learning something new.

Kids with a genuine interest in technology and science can also participate in great weekend workshops.

Recommended Ages

This museum is fantastic for kids older than six.

  1. Harn Museum of Art

This building in the UF Cultural Plaza houses one of the largest university art museums in the United States, with 112,800 square feet dedicated to displaying works by local and international artists.

Why Your Family Should Go

See world-class works of art and enjoy admission that costs nothing by visiting this museum.

The museum’s permanent collection contains innumerable examples of modern, African, and Asian art.

What to Do with Kids

Take part in the museum’s educational and entertaining programs.

Also, don’t forget to take pictures of “Hammering Man” and Rory, the 6-foot-tall scrap steel horse.

Recommended Ages

Kids over nine can visit the Harn Museum of Art for free.

  1. Devil’s Millhopper Geological State Park

This 71-acre paradise is maintained by the Florida State Parks system and is well known for its massive sinkhole.

Why Your Family Should Go

The park’s most recognizable feature, a sinkhole measuring over 500 feet in width and 100 feet in depth, is a strange natural phenomenon.

The sinkhole is so expansive that three distinct ecosystems can coexist within its limestone walls.

You’ll find a dune, a wooded area, and even a swamp in the crater’s center.

What to Do with Kids

Hike down the boardwalk to the sinkhole below.

The park also has a visitor center where you can learn more about this natural wonder.

On Saturdays, visitors to the state park can join ranger-led tours of the area.

Recommended Ages

You must be at least 12 and a risk-taker to enjoy Devil’s Millhopper.

  1. Gainesville Solar Walk

Beautiful solar system size replica at 4 billion to 1 on NW 8th Ave.

Why Your Family Should Go

The splendor of the solar system is on full display throughout this mile-long path.

Elizabeth Indianos meticulously planned and designed a monument for each planet in the solar system.

Time Malles also made a bronze plaque with facts about each planet.

What to Do with Kids

Take a stroll down this street to simultaneously burn calories and educate your kids about our solar system.

Recommended Ages

Children above the age of 6 will love the Gainesville Solar Walk.

  1. Kika Silva Pla Planetarium

This planetarium, located on Santa Fe College’s Northwest Campus, attracts families with its educational and entertaining programs.

Why Your Family Should Go

The mysteries and glories of the universe are shown magnificently in the Kika Silva Pla Planetarium.

The cutting-edge technology at this planetarium allows for stunning presentations on the cosmos.

It’s also an excellent opportunity for everyone to learn something new.

What to Do with Kids

Try out the SpacePark show, which is like a thrilling voyage through the cosmos.

The Music 360 Show is another must-watch since it combines rock music with stunning images of galaxies and supernovae.

Recommended Ages

Planetarium performances are recommended for kids over the age of 6.

  1. Lubee Bat Conservancy

The Lubee Bat Conservancy is an approved Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) facility dedicated to bat preservation and study.

Why Your Family Should Go

One might make the case that bats are the most misunderstood creatures on the planet.

However, did you happen to notice something?

With the help of the Lubee Bat Conservancy, the public’s perception of these species will improve.

And it’s home to a wide variety of bats, including several rare and unusual species.

What to Do with Kids

Make an appointment, and a guided tour will take you through the facility like never before.

Bats can be adopted, fed, and observed during your trip.

You might even catch one of these creatures creating a masterpiece for you, given that it has been taught to paint.

Recommended Ages

There’s no better rest break than the Lubee Bat Conservancy for kids over nine.

  1. The Oaks Mall

It opened in 1978 and has since become Central Florida’s largest shopping mall at 906,104 square feet.

Why Your Family Should Go

Do some retail therapy seem appropriate right about now?

On your trip to Gainesville, you could stop by the Oaks Mall.

This mall has 119 shops and is full of great businesses like J.C. Penney and Belk.

Kids will be delighted to discover that this shopping center is full of exciting surprises.

What to Do with Kids

Shop until you drop at the mall’s jewelry stores and trendy boutiques.

Next, take your adorable companions to the bookstores and confectionery stores, where they are sure to be delighted.

Let the youngsters burn off some steam at the mall’s play area if they’re in a good mood.

Recommended Ages

This massive shopping center has things for people of all ages to enjoy.

  1. Carson Springs Wildlife Conservation Foundation

The zoo first welcomed visitors in 2008 and has since become an established element of the conservation movement by earning membership in the Zoological Association of America.

Why Your Family Should Go

One of the best family-friendly activities in Gainesville is a visit to Carson Springs Wildlife.

Over 25 species of unique and endangered animals find refuge at this wildlife sanctuary, which animal advocates founded.

Tortoises, tigers, giraffes, hyenas, lemurs, pumas, and cheetahs are just some animals you’ll get to view during your tour of this sanctuary.

What to Do with Kids

Discover the ins and outs of animal rescue and protection by taking a tour of the center.

This tour, led by a qualified zoologist, will focus on the significance of the animals and their work.

In addition, the funds raised from the tour will be used to treat and care for the animals in need.

Recommended Ages

Children over three can enjoy a fun and informative day at Carson Springs Wildlife.