Founded in 1869, Gainesville has some truly incredible history. From its first Spanish settlers to the Civil War, the area is full of noteworthy landmarks. See the past right before your eyes when you explore downtown or learn about it when you tour Gainesville, FL, museums. Add some education to your vacation!
History buffs love visiting our area! If you’re looking for more museums in Gainesville, FL, take a look at our complimentary Vacation Guide. We know that planning a trip can be challenging, so we created this handpicked list of local recommendations to save you from hours of research. Whether you are looking for Gainesville, FL, museums, outdoor activities, or romantic date night ideas, our free guide will be a great help!
5 of the Best Gainesville, FL, Museums
Florida Museum of Natural History
If you’re in Gainesville, you absolutely have to make time to go to the Florida Museum of Natural History. This museum is one of the nation’s top five natural history museums, and when you visit, you’ll see why! Admission is free to the permanent exhibits, but there is a small fee if you want to see special exhibits like the popular Florida Museum of Natural History Butterfly Rainforest. Here, you can see live butterflies fluttering around the indoor tropical oasis! Other exhibits are packed full of Florida history. Discover the fossils found in the area and learn about some of the first people that ever walked on Florida soil. Plus, kids will love playing and learning in the interactive Discovery Zone! Plus, it’s less than 15 minutes away from Sweetwater Branch Inn, making it a perfect excursion during your stay.
Harn Museum of Art
Experience creativity throughout the ages at the Harn Museum of Art. Here, you can find more than 10,000 pieces of artwork that range from sculpture to photography. Inside, you will find different sections to explore, each with their own theme. Admission to this museum is free, and there is an expansive space full of galleries and outdoor gardens to explore. Some of the exhibits you’ll find are a traditional zen garden, photography, and contemporary Asian art. Block out an hour or two of your day to revel in these beautiful works!
Matheson History Museum
If you’re looking for Gainesville, FL, museums that will teach you about the area’s history, look no further than the Matheson History Museum. This hidden gem can fittingly be found in the museum next to the 1867 Matheson House. Inside, there are both permanent and temporary exhibits that give you a background of Alachua County’s history. Permanent exhibits include a 1,400-year-old canoe, a recreation of the Matheson & Company Store, and the history of Alachua County starting with the Timucuan tribe. Then, you can explore the historic house on a separate tour!
The Cade Museum for Creativity and Invention is the newest member of the family of museums in Gainesville, FL. This museum is dedicated to Robert Cade, the inventor of Gatorade who was also considered a Renaissance man. He dedicated his life to inventing and learning new things. Now, this museum will follow in his footsteps. There are exhibits as well as 2 labs. The Creativity Lab is for innovative experimenting, and the Fab Lab includes 3D printers and an original printing press.
The Haile Homestead
The Haile Homestead at Kanapaha Plantation was once an actual home to the Haile family back in 1854. After moving to the area from South Carolina, they had their 56 slaves build their home and work the plantation. Now, the house stands as a silent testament to the skills of the laborers that built it. It is currently one of the most interesting museums in Gainesville, FL, because you can truly get a peek into the lives of the family. One of the most prominent things about the Haile Homestead are the words on the walls. For unknown reasons, the family wrote more than 12,500 words everywhere from closets to the parlor. You can spend hours reading and trying to decipher them!
Stay at Sweetwater Branch Inn
Sweetwater Branch Inn is located in the perfect spot for exploring Gainesville, FL, museums. When staying at our inn, you’ll have the choice of tastefully decorated rooms or fully equipped cottages ideal for extended stays. You’ll love our gorgeous Florida-style gardens and special touches that make your stay unique. Book your stay at Sweetwater today to discover all the museums in Gainesville, FL, and more!