Story by Ava Diercksen

If you’re new to Gainesville and are looking for ways to make this community home without breaking the bank, or if you are an old-timer and down to explore, try visiting some of these unique and free experiences in and around Gainesville. 

Community Involvement

One of the most fulfilling things that one can do in any city is to give back to the community that they call home. 

Not only will you benefit the people living around you, but you will be more fulfilled as an individual. Luckily, there is no shortage of organizations and movements in Gainesville to be involved in. 

Civic Media Center

Do you have a passion for activism? Do you feel that most media sources may not tell the full story?

The Civic Media Center is essentially a public library that provides access to non-mainstream media sources and has done so for the past 26 years right here in the downtown Gainesville community. 

They also promote grassroots activism and awareness of social issues through community events and educational and cultural performances and presentations that occur frequently throughout the week and weekend.

What You Can Do:

  • Visit the library and reading room (Monday-Saturday from 2-6 p.m.)
  • Attend events such as community gardening and poetry jams  
  • Volunteer meetings every Thursday from 5:30-6:30 p.m.
  • Free Grocery Store every Tuesday from 3-4:30 p.m.
  • Contribute to the Oral History Project, which archives speeches from local activists that have worked with the Civic Media Center 
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The Freewheel Project

The Freewheel Project, also known as the Gainesville Community Bicycle Project, is a great organization for anyone who loves to get around on two wheels. 

The Freewheel Project provides free or inexpensive bicycle services to anyone who may need it and works to promote bicycling as a healthy and environmentally-conscious mode of transportation. 

What You Can Do:

  • Visit their stand every week at the Bo Diddley Plaza Farmers Market (Wednesdays from 4 to 7 p.m.)
  • Bring your bike for repairs at their bike clinics
  • Volunteer and help out around the store
  • Listen to fun talks and presentations on topics such as the basics of bicycle touring and traveling 

Art, Food & Music

There are always fun art, food and music-related events going on in Gainesville and one way to find them is simply by searching around on Facebook. Get together a group of friends and check them out if you have some free time. 

Artwalk Gainesville 

Artwalk  Gainesville is a self-guided tour around downtown Gainesville that highlights the creativity of the community. 

The Artwalk occurs on the last Friday of each month from 7 to 10 p.m. (including this Friday, Oct. 25th!)

What You Can Do: 

  • Listen to live music performances 
  • View art exhibitions from local galleries
  • Visit local businesses and eateries 
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Museums may have a reputation for being boring but I have always found them to be a calming  way to spend a few hours inspired by endless creativity and history. Take some time to lose yourself wandering amongst the exhibits and you may find yourself in the process. 

Harn Museum of Art

The Harn Museum of Art features a multitude of exciting exhibits ranging from the time period of ancient history to contemporary art and geographically across the world, as well as diverse modes of artistic expressions including films, photography, sculpture, paintings, and more.

What You Can Do:

  • Attend community events, gatherings, and fundraisers such as Museum Nights (second Thursday of each month) 
  • Listen to presentations, such as the upcoming lecture on mummification in Ancient China and Egypt (Oct. 29th at 6-7:30 p.m.) 
  • Wander the exhibits containing over 11,000 unique objects 
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One does not have to travel far in Gainesville to find some peace and tranquility through nature. If you are in need of an escape from the stress of modernity, layout some time to reconnect with the environment. 

Loblolly Woods 

Loblolly Woods is a place of uninterrupted and lush forest located in urban Gainesville that is free for all to enjoy.

What You Can Do:

  • Hike a trail of up to 3 miles 
  • Enjoy a picnic under the trees
  • Bike along a path 

Wilmot Gardens 

Located right on campus, Wilmot Gardens is a series of botanical gardens and greenhouses that are open daily from dawn to dusk.

What You Can Do:

  • Shop in their plant store (2019 Fall Plant Sale occurring Nov. 22nd and Nov 23rd!)
  • Participate in volunteer workdays (Nov. 2nd from 8 a.m.-12 p.m.)
  • Explore their collections of rare flowers and plants in the gardens, greenhouses and along trails