If you're looking for an apartment in Gainesville, you probably already know about all the "big stuff" in town. But once you're here, you owe it to yourself to dig deeper into the area and check out all of the lesser-known treasures.
Here are 4 that we think will help you discover the REAL Gainesville:
1. Devil's Milhopper Geological State Park
Who says you need to head to South America to see the rainforests? Here, you'll get to hike down a 120-foot sinkhole and end up in what the locals call a "miniature rainforest". This park has been designated a National Natural Landmark, and people have been completely fascinated by it since the late 1800's. Best of all, it's only about 15 minutes northwest of Downtown Gainesville, so no matter which apartment community you pick, you'll be able to check out this park whenever you want!
2. Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park
Even though Gainesville is full of people, restaurants, stores, and about a million other modern conveniences, you don't have to travel far to see the area's first residents. Paynes Prairie is located in Micanopy (about 20 minutes south of Downtown Gainesville), and it's home to a ton of wildlife -- including bison, wild horses, and of course, alligators! You can get up close and personal with these animals on the park's observation deck, or you can head down to the 30+ miles of trails, lakes that you can boat or canoe in, and camping facilities.
3. The UF Bat House
When you think of UF, you think of gators, but that's not the only animal you'll find on campus! The UF Bat House is the largest occupied bat house in the world. About 15-20 minutes after sunset, the bats will start to emerge, looking for insects to eat. Within a few minutes, the sky is completely peppered with them!
Just like us, though, bats don't like to go outside when it's cold or rainy, so your best chance to see them in action is during the spring and into the early part of summer.
4. The Santa Fe Teaching Zoo
Remember, UF isn't the only school in town! At Santa Fe College, you'll find a teaching zoo, where more than 200 students take care of over 75 different species of animals. Whether you love bald eagles, monkeys, or kangaroos, you'll be able to see them here.
And, if you really fall in love while you're here, you can join the zoo's Adopt-An-Animal program. For as little as $25, you can support your favorite animal for a year. You'll also get a photo of your animal to display at home.