Places & Events
Paynes Prairie When people from out of state think of Florida, especially those who have never been here, they often envision white, sandy beaches and swaying palms. We do have both of those items in plentiful quantities, but what many people do not know is that our sunny home holds many other completely different and totally diverse ecosystems.
Gainesville is lucky enough to be situated just north of the one and only, Paynes Prairie. It is a state park, so this land stretches wild and untouched by humans (mostly) for miles and miles. The prairie holds various North Central Florida creatures and ecosystems, and is a beautiful thing to behold. The land was a stronghold of the Alachua branch of the Seminole tribe in the 18th century, under the leadership of Ahaya the Cowkeeper. The prairie is named after his eldest surviving nephew, Payne. The stretches of acres still hold the Native American spirit, which heralds beauty and balance in a sometimes-harsh environment. There are pine forests, marshy wetlands, and wildlife such as Plains Bison, Florida Alligators, Florida Cracker Horses, and numerous species of water birds.
Want to know more about Paynes Prairie’s trails, fees, and hours of operation, as well as how to get there? Click here!
The Matheson Museum The fascinating history of Alachua County and Gainesville’s beginnings can be explored at The Matheson Museum, located downtown. The museum is situated adjacent to Sweetwater Park, in a quaint brick building that once served as Gainesville’s American Legion Hall.
Actually, that building is just one of the sites that comprises the entire museum. There is a collection of structures and outdoor walks that make up the place. The Matheson House is Gainesville’s second oldest house, built by a prominent merchant from South Carolina named James Douglas Matheson. The Tison Tool Museum was erected in 1993 and brought to its permanent home in Sweetwater Park in 1998. Inside are the tool collections of Gainesville native John Mason Tison, Jr., which remind one of the artistry and masonry of Alachua County’s past. Finally, Sweetwater Park houses more than the flowing Sweetwater Branch. The park grounds surrounding the museum are home to 110 native plants and 1,500 plant varieties overall. There is almost always something blooming along the walk! Visit The Matheson Museum
The Top Restaurant What can we say? The Top has to be one of the most indie-hip restaurants in Gainesville! It is eclectic, it is delicious, it is local, and it has a bar and patio out back that is sure to make you smile (complete with misting fans)! The menu has vegetarian/vegan offerings, as well as carnivorous ones. The pricing is good, the dishes are unique and some items are just plain gourmet.
Want to get out downtown and hit up a hip, tasty restaurant? Need outdoor seating that is fun and cool? The Top hits close to the top of our list.
Swamp Head Brewery If there is one thing that Gainesville needs, it’s a local beer brewery. If there is one thing that the world needs, it’s truly quality beer. Swamp Head Brewery satisfies both of those needs, with swampy, Floridian flair.
Located in SW Gainesville, the brewery churns out their 5 year-round brews: Wild Night (a honey cream ale made with tupelo honey from Northwest Florida), Cottonmouth (a Belgian witbier with a hefeweizen kick), Stump Knocker (a fresh and rejuvenating hop-centric ale), Big Nose (hoppy, malty, and made with crystal clear spring water from Okeefenokee Swamp), and Midnight Oil (a sensational blend of toasted oats, roasted barley, chocolate wheat malt, and dark roast organic coffee, this beer is mocha-smooth).
Where can you find the brewery, or locations to purchase their amazing beverages? Search no further! The Swamp Head website has a map with all locations posted where you can find your pint awaiting (click here)! (Hint: If you’re in downtown Gainesville in a locally owned bar or restaurant, chances are they have it on tap. Ask around!)
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