Florida offers attractions to suit anyone's taste.  Gainesville's central location places all these destinations within easy reach by rental car. Follow the links below for more on-line information.

To experience Florida's outdoors, try Ginnie Springs, with a water temperature of 72 degrees all year, or Cedar Key for Gulf Coast nature, great seafood, and an annual Arts Festival. Cedar Key is a relaxing 45-minute drive from Gainesville. Tarpon Springs, a fun beach town with a vibrant Greek community, will be hosting its 32nd Annual Tarpon Springs Fine Arts Festival on April 8-9. At Silver Springs the glass-bottom boats are now accompanied by outdoor concerts and a safari featuring Florida panthers.

Many of Florida's famous sandy beaches are a short two-hour drive away. On the Atlantic coast are Amelia Island, the Jacksonville Beaches, Daytona Beach, and New Smyrna. St. Augustine, the oldest city in the US, has lovely beaches and historical museums, particularly the Castillo de San Marcos. Crescent Beach near St. Augustine is a favorite. South on the Gulf Coast are Tampa Bay and St. Petersburg.

Florida's theme parks offer great variety.  Universal Resort's two theme parks in Orlando, Universal Studios and Island of Adventure, have their thrill-rides and stunt-shows. Walt Disney World offers its famed attractions: the cheery Magic Kingdom, the futuristic Epcot, the wild Animal Kingdom, and Downtown Disney. SeaWorld Orlando showcases the wonders of the ocean, while Discovery Cove lets you swim with dolphins. Busch Gardens Tampa Bay has rides, a safari, and the famous Clydesdales.

Other attractions include the Kennedy Space Center (which has a tentative satellite launch in early April), the World Golf Village and the World Golf Hall, and there are the many beautiful southern towns such as Micanopy with its antique shops just 15 minutes south of Gainesville.  For more information on these and other attractions, visit the Florida's Official Vacation Guide.


The following are all within a twenty-minute drive from the hotel. Directions and more detailed information are available via the on-line links below.

THE ARTS: As part of the University of Florida Performing Arts venue, The Spanish Harlem Orchestra will perform on Friday, April 7, 7:30 p.m., at the University Auditorium. "Winners of the 2005 Grammy Award for Best Salsa / Merengue Album (Across 110th Street), the Orchestra with its pounding percussion, sultry vocals and blazing brass leads the resurgence of salsa music in America." Tickets are available in advance or at the door. The Acrosstown Repertory Theatre on Friday, April 7, will present "Suckerfish" by W.T. Underwood, the pseudonym of a famous actor who will be in Gainesville for the play. "Suckerfish" combines the cosmic mood and wild humor of Beckett's "Waiting for Godot" with Albee's "Zoo Story." Disney's "Beauty & the Beast" will be playing at the Gainesville Community Playhouse on April 6-8 at 8 p.m. Tickets are available in advance or at the door for both plays.  The Harn Museum of Art will offer several fine exhibits during the conference: "Picturing the Times: Prints and Photographs from the New Deal Era"; "Sense, Style, Presence: African Arts of Personal Adornment"; "Asian Art: Culture and Context"; "For the Next Life: Pre-Columbian Grave Objects"; "Strange Days Exhibition."  The Harn is open daily, 11 a.m.-5 p.m.; admission is free. You can also see "China Through the Eyes of SFCC" at the Santa Fe Community College in the President's Exhibit Hall, RAB (Friday, 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m.) or "Echoes: A Century Survey"--paintings by renowned artist Arnold Mesches--at the Thomas Center Galleries (Thurs.-Fri., 9 a.m.-5 p.m; Sat., 1-4 p.m.). Admission for both exhibits is free.

THE OUTDOORS: You can see alligators on campus at Lake Alice, and at Cullough Lake (on the east side of south Main Street, 1/2 mile south of SW 16th Avenue). The Florida Museum of Natural History's Butterfly Rainforest offers over 50 species of exotic butterflies amid lush tropical foliage in screened vivarium houses ($7.50 admission). Bivens Arm Nature Park (South Main Street) encompasses over 57 acres of Basin Marsh and includes nature trails and an extensive boardwalk (9 a.m.-5 p.m.; free admission). Devil's Millhopper (two miles northwest of Gainesville off of State Road 232) is a geological state park formed from an inactive sink-hole. Steps descend over 120 feet to a miniature rain forest (open daily 9 a.m.-5 p.m.; admission $2 per vehicle). Dudley Farm Historic State Park shows the evolution of a Florida family farm from the 1850s to 1940s. The site includes the farmhouse with original furnishings, an 1880s kitchen outbuilding, a general store and post office, and a functional cane-syrup complex. Deer, wild turkeys, tortoises, and bluebirds are still seen in the fields (9 a.m.-4 p.m. daily; admission $4 per vehicle). Kanapaha Botanical Gardens houses 16 major collections of fauna accessible from a mile long paved walkway. Signature plants include a premier stand of Chinese royal bamboo (Wong Chuk), giant Victoria water lilies, and Asian snake arums (Fri.-Sat., 9 a.m.-5 p.m.;  admission $5).

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