Green Travel Guide: Gainesville, Florida

By Megan Shea,

Travelers are increasingly becoming environmentally conscious and seek to minimize their carbon footprint all while seeing the world. Our Green Guides series, written by on-the-ground experts, gives earth lovers all the intel needed for eating local, shopping local and living local. Ditch the rental car and go green for a weekend.

Dubbed “The Swamp,” Gainesville has been put on the map as more than just the home of both the Florida Gators and the stomping ground of singer Tom Petty. Outside of the walls of its 90,000-seat football stadium, visitors can find an environmentally-friendly city teeming with culture and personality.


Stay in Gainesville

Sweetwater Branch Inn

Sweetwater Branch Inn Gainsville guest suite

Photo from trivago.

See the Sweetwater Branch Inn

Listed in the National Register of Historic Places and appropriately located in Gainesville’s historic district, the Sweetwater Branch Inn Bed & Breakfast dates back to the 1890s.

With Victorian-inspired decor and an attention to classic Southern hospitality, the Inn shares a taste of old school North Florida charm with its guests. Winding, lush gardens, gazebos and a reception hall decorate the surrounding cottages.

The Inn offers a convenient downtown location, daily breakfast buffet and elegant, clawfoot bathtubs. The Sweet Tea, the Inn’s restaurant, serves up new century southern fare.

Eat & Drink in Gainesville

swamphead-beer

Photo courtesy of NativeVox

For your serving of organic, locally-sourced and always creative eats in one of the oldest buildings in Gainesville, frequent Daily Green.

Ordering up a slice of pizza in the graffitied ‘60s Ford van parked in the garden of Satchel’s is a necessary stop on any funky foodie’s to-do list.

Hogtown is brimming with mom-and-pop businesses. Curia on the Drag serves up a locally-roasted cup of coffee for the connoisseur or venture to Curia off the Drag for a vegan-friendly cafe. For a serving of local art with your cup of joe, walk across the courtyard to the property’s art gallery.

If there’s one thing a college town has got down to a science, it’s beer, so start off your happy hour hoppy with craft beers from local breweries Swamp Head and First Magnitude. (Thanks to local non-profit We Are Neutral, First Magnitude is the area’s first carbon neutral brewery.)

For music, hand-made crafts, fresh, local veggies and street food, head to downtown Gainesville’s Union Street Farmer’s Market on Wednesdays.

See Gainesville

hippodrome-theater-gainesville

Photo courtesy of NativeVox

Whether it’s rainy day activity or a much-needed dose of culture, the Hippodrome is one Gainesville’s best-kept secrets. As the centerpiece of downtown, the Hippodrome offers live theater, films, gallery exhibits, classes, and special events.

The Thomas Center offers two art galleries, multiple restored period rooms, and historical exhibits housed within the walls of a Mediterranean Revival-style former hotel.

No trip to the Swamp is complete without an obligatory tour of Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. The orange and blue walls of the stadium have housed the Florida Gators since 1930. On fall Saturdays, you can find tailgating alumni and students populating campus and rallying for home football games. Experiencing a roaring stadium chanting and chomping imparts an unmatched energy that anyone can attest to.

For the music-lover, local venues The Wooly, The Atlantic, and The High Dive offer a glimpse into the thriving local music scene of Gainesville.

Shop Gainesville

vintage shopping Gainesville

Photo courtesy of Unsplash

Supporting artisans and reducing waste is made easy by Gainesville’s many locally-owned shops. At Flashbacks Recycled Fashions, you can buy and sell clothing, houseware, furniture, retro, and vintage decor.

Reduce your footprint and take home an unsuspecting treasure from The Repurpose Project, which peddles salvaged, used items.

On the second Sunday of every month at the Historic Old Gainesville Depot, you can find hand-crafted jewelry, vintage clothing, jams, cosmetics, candles, and other eclectic goods at the Indie Flea market.

Walk & Bike Gainesville

gainesville-nature

Photo courtesy of NativeVox

Walking and biking are pivotal to savoring this college town. Take a stroll downtown to enjoy the city’s art adorned walls or watch the sunset while walking the trails bordering Depot Park, the city’s original repurposed train station.

Rent a bicycle at the Free Wheel Project or Recycled Bikes and frequent one of the many nature trails and wonders of the Swamp.

For a scenic walk, follow the pines to the 120-foot sinkhole at Devil’s Millhopper or take-in the 21,000 acre savanna of Payne’s Prairie while biking the Hawthorne Trail.

Stroll or bike downtown by the green, open, and occasionally music-filled space of Bo Diddley Plaza, bordered by local eateries and shops.

Arrive

Plane

Gainesville Regional Airport offers non-stop flights to Miami, Charlotte, and Atlanta. Neighboring Orlando and Jacksonville International Airports offer additional flight options. Local bus services, taxis, and Ubers are around every corner.

Bus

The Regional Transit System (RTS) is Gainesville’s public bus system that provides transportation from the airport to key locations throughout town and runs all day.

RTS Route #25 travels from the airport to the UF Commuter Lot centrally located on the university campus from 7:30am-5pm on weekdays and reduced service on the weekends.

RTS Route # 39 travels along 39th Ave. (State Road 222) between the airport and Santa Fe College from 8am-5pm on weekdays with reduced service on weekends.

RTS Route #26 travels from the airport to the Rosa Parks Regional Transit System Downtown Station from 6am-8pm on weekdays with reduced service on the weekends.

Fares vary at $1.50 for a one-way ticket, $3 for an all-day pass, or $35 for a monthly pass. Exact cash and major credit cards are accepted as payment.

Hotels and inns in the area also offer shuttle services including:

Fueled by the always-growing energy of the university, Gainesville attracts visitors for its innovative start-up culture, local-centric, affordable, and green mentality. As an epicenter of local talent, Gainesville offers something for every breed of traveler. For the eco-conscious traveler, this college town offers a green option for every item on your itinerary.