Cecilia Mazanec
Freshman, Journalism major


Do yourself a favor and get off campus for a few hours. You may feel immersed in wildlife just walking to class, but I can promise that until you’ve seen the vastness of a prairie or dipped your toes into a clear spring, you have not truly experienced Gainesville.
Even though it’s a small town, Gainesville has a variety of parks that offer views of nature in its purest form. From bicycle trails to calm waters to canoe in, these preserved locations are sure to give you an enriching study break. Here are just a few parks you should add to your bucket list of places to visit while at UF:

Paynes Prairie Reserve State Park
(100 Savannah Boulevard, Micanopy, Florida 32667)
Price: $6 for a vehicle with a maximum of eight people
Though you’ve probably heard the name of this park around campus, don’t let it’s popularity stop you from visiting. The cooler weather coming through this time of year should lower the number of bugs, but you should still apply bug spray (I learned the hard way). At Paynes Prairie, there are bicycle trails, equestrian riding, and also ones for those (like me) who prefer to take in the greenery at a slow pace.
You can also make your way over to Lake Wauburg, where you can canoe or kayak. Just remember that Paynes Prairie doesn’t rent out canoes. However, with your Gator1 card, you can rent out a canoe, paddleboat, rowboat, kayak, or pedal boat at Lake Wauburg. The prairie itself is absolutely stunning; I highly recommend taking in the view from the top when the observatory tower reopens.

Devil’s Millhopper Geological State Park
(4732 Millhoppper Road, Gainesville, Florida 32653)
Price: $4 for a vehicle with maximum eight people
If you’ve ever wanted to descend into a sinkhole (or even if that thought has never crossed your mind), Devil’s Millhopper Geological State Park is an excellent choice for a trip to one of Florida’s natural landmarks. You can walk around the top of the sinkhole or you can descend into its center and immerse yourself into the thick landscape that encompasses the opening of the hole. Even if you’re more of a
history buff than a hiker, this state park offers a chance to learn about the historical nature of Florida.

Alfred A. Ring Park
(1801 NW 23rd Blvd, Gainesville, FL 32605)
Price: Free parking
This nature park gives, in just 0.1 square miles, a glimpse of Floridian beauty. By walking across the boardwalks and natural trails, you can view the many specimens of trees and animals native to Florida. Though small compared to the other state parks near Gainesville, this park also offers an intimate view of two bodies of water: Hogtown Creek and Glen Springs Run. This is an excellent place to bring your family, as it provides a short yet wonderfully peaceful walk.

San Felasco Hammock Reserve State Park
(11101 Millhopper Road, Gainesville, FL 32653)
Price: $4 for a vehicle with maximum eight people
The word “hammock” is part of the park’s name for a reason. The park prides itself on its of trees, which seem to provide for visitors a canopy and separation from the world outside the park. This state park offers many trails for cyclists, so, whether you want a short ride or a more challenging one, feel free to bring your bike , as the trails range in difficulty. Wear bug repellent though, as the website warns
against ticks.

Kanapaha Botanical Gardens
(4700 SW 58th Drive, Gainesville, FL 32608)
Price: $7
If we’re getting technical here, Kanapaha Botanical Gardens is not really a “park”, but I couldn’t bring myself to complete this article without sneaking in this 62-acre beauty. Though it’s closed on Thursdays, there are six other days for you to enjoy the breathtaking flora. Be sure not to miss the large Victoria water lilies and the collection of bamboo that these gardens offer. Kanapaha also hosts special
events like music festivals and plant sales!