Gainesville, Florida has numerous natural parks, preserves, and places of learning, but which ones should you visit? It’s hard to narrow down your options, so a short list might help. Here are three of the most beautiful sights in Gainesville.
Alfred A. Ring Park
Image via Flickr by Alachua County
Alfred A. Ring Park has benches, a picnic area, and a playground, but the main draw is the scenic 1.5-mile hiking trail. Start your journey on a natural walkway; it leads into a wooded expanse that follows the path of Hogtown Creek.
Walk across boardwalks to see the park’s diverse plant life, which includes loblolly pines, maple trees, bluff oaks, and sweetgum trees. Also inside the park is the Emily S. Ring wildflower garden, which has native plants, like saw palmettos, azaleas, and camellias. Further along the path, you’ll see rare plants, like large Southern magnolias.
The hiking path in Alfred A. Ring Park is complemented by the the animals nearby. During the morning, you might see squirrels and hear the gentle songs of birds, like the Carolina wren. While at the wildflower garden, you can see a goldfish pond.
Gum Root Park
Gum Root Park is found along the northern shore of Newnans Lake, and it is adjacent to the Gum Root Conservation Area. The 741-acre park is mostly swampland, but it’s a diverse area that includes a blackwater stream, a xeric hammock, pine flatwoods, and a 20-acre pasture.
This park is a great spot for watching birds and wildlife. You will see alligators, deer, and otters. You might see and hear birds like the semipalmated plover and semipalmated sandpiper, but the lakes in the area also support birds like the bald eagle and osprey.
Wilmot Gardens (University of Florida)
Wilmot Gardens is a source of tranquility for patients and their caregivers from University of Florida Health, but the gardens are open to the public free of charge. If you visit the 4.8-acre property, you will be able to walk along five large gardens, which contain plants like azaleas, bromeliads, camellias, and Japanese maple trees. The Chapman Healing Garden is a sensory experience, where visitors are stimulated by fragrances, colors, and the sound of water.
The property also features a commons area and a greenhouse. You could have a picnic in the commons, while being surrounded by gardens and looking at the other sights on the property. The greenhouse is a climate-controlled space with an area over 2,700 square feet. It houses the Therapeutic Horticulture Program at Wilmot Gardens, where individuals experience the healing power of gardening and others can study the therapeutic benefits of gardening.
You’re always minutes away from many of the parks in the area. However, you should find a hotel room where you can view some of the parks and preserves from a distance.
Gainesville has so many beautiful parks and places of learning, but you should visit Alfred A. Ring Park, Gum Root Park, and Wilmot Gardens in particular. All three places offer diverse sights, gentle sounds, and serenity.