Santa Fe College’s teaching zoo

04/04/2014  | 

Nearly 30,000 people a year come through the gates to visit a unique site on the Santa Fe College campus, a teaching zoo. The program is the premier wild animal technology program in the United States and the students learn what it will take to be a zookeeper. The animals range from alligators to tree climbing kangaroos, which, oddly enough, are not really great climbers. Each trip to the zoo comes with a guided tour led by one of the students. The lush tree canopy makes the zoo a year round attraction great for all ages. To learn more about the zoo visit

The Gainesville area is home to one of the largest collection of high magnitude cold water springs anywhere. Poe Springs, located just west of the town of High Springs, alone pumps out 44 million gallons of crystal clear cold water a day. The water is a year round temperature of 72 degrees, brisk on cloudy days and truly refreshing during the brunt of a Florida summer. Swim, scuba dive, snorkel, canoe, kayak or just float, you can do it all while enjoying nature at its finest.

Ever taken a shower of butterflies? Gainesville now offers the chance to come face-to-face with exotic, vibrant butterflies fluttering atop a lush tropical canvas of foliage and flowers as you experience the Butterfly Rainforest, at the Florida Museum of Natural History on the University of Florida Campus. A screened vivarium is home to subtropical and tropical plants and trees which support 55 to 65 different species of butterflies. Hundreds of butterflies circle guests as they stroll through the Butterfly Rainforest on a winding path relaxing to the sounds of cascading waterfalls.

The majority of the butterflies in the Rainforest are bred on commercial butterfly farms around the world because they help protect natural habitats from destruction and promote conservation. The McGuire Center receives butterflies from farms as far away as the Philippines, Malaysia, and Madagascar. For the first time at the Florida Museum, visitors will be able to get a close-up view of scientists at work in the world’s largest research facility devoted to Lepidoptera.

When traveling it’s always fun to see where the locals dine. Gainesville is home to a truly unique dining treat, Satchel’s Pizza. It is one of those combinations that blend family friendly entertainment with delicious food. This truly local hangout offers great salads, calzones and of course, pizza. In the back is Lightning Salvage, a combination five and dime store for souvenirs, a live music venue and a true junk museum. Satchel’s is not to be missed when in Gainesville because it is not just a pizza joint, it’s an experience.

There is more happening in Gainesville than the Gator Chomp. Gainesville delivers exciting nature based activities, outstanding cultural offerings and delicious local cuisine.

Come experience how friendly a spot we are and see how these things combine to make Gainesville the place “Where Nature and Culture Meet.”

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