Warm breezes from the Gulf of Mexico move inland to keep Gainesville, Florida, mild during the winter and temperate during the summer. Home to the University of Florida, Gainesville is the ideal location for a fun-filled vacation. Book a hotel close to the action so you don’t miss a beat, grab your camera, and capture the following five most photogenic spots of this northern Florida city.
Snap an Alligator on the La Chua Trail
The La Chua Trail, located in Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park, is the spot to catch a glimpse of wild alligators. This 3-mile round-trip boardwalk trail leads visitors to the heart of a prairie marsh that horses, bison, sandhill cranes, and alligators all call home.
Leave your pet behind, but definitely bring your camera. At the end of the boardwalk, a grassy trail leads to an observation tower. Bring a telephoto lens to capture pictures of the wildlife, but always stay aware of your surroundings.
Picture Yourself Surrounded by Hundreds of Butterflies in Gainesville
The Florida Museum, located on the sprawling University of Florida campus, is waiting to delight your eyes and camera lens with hundreds of free-flying butterflies. Perched on colorful flowers and gliding past waterfalls, the butterflies at The Florida Museum make for an afternoon of photography.
Live butterfly releases happen every day at 2 p.m. and three times daily on the weekends. Bring a camera lens that can shoot in variable light conditions and be extra careful not to touch or bump into any butterflies.
Shoot a Live Performance, or a Tomato,
at the Union Street Farmers Market of Gainesville
The Union Street Farmers Market takes place on Wednesday from 4 to 7 p.m. every week of the year, rain or shine. Bringing together more than 60 vendors, the market is alive with great produce and better photo opportunities.
Each week features a live performance, prime for shooting, as well as plenty of colorful fruits and vegetables as a backdrop or a still life. The farmers market will be busy, so pack light with a small camera bag and a portrait lens.
Capture the Rainforest at Devil’s Millhopper Geological State Park in Gainesville
Tourists started visiting Devil’s Millhopper in the 1880s, entranced by the always-lush vegetation growing in this limestone sinkhole. Walk the 1/2-mile trail around the edge of the sinkhole, or follow a boardwalk system into the 120-foot depression and watch as streams disappear into crevices in the ground.
Dogs are welcome on their leashes. Bird sightings are common, so bring a tripod and telephoto lens to capture their flashy plumage.
Make a Portrait at the Historic Thomas Center of downtown Gainesville
The Historic Thomas Center, once a private residence, is an architectural and horticultural jewel in the heart of downtown Gainesville. The building is open Monday through Friday and features art exhibits and period-restored rooms.
Enjoy the art, but don’t miss the opportunity to take photos on the grounds. The Mediterranean Revival house makes a lovely backdrop for portraits, and the manicured gardens are ideal for a picnic and a photo shoot.