N. Florida & Panhandle

Butterflies on the Breeze – Gainesville

The Butterfly Rainforest, a 6,400-square-foot living exhibit at the Museum of Natural History on the University of Florida campus in Gainesville, supports a population of hundreds of species acquired from butterfly farms in the Philippines, Malaysia, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Suriname, Ecuador, Belize and Florida that help protect natural habitats and promote conservation. It’s the latest addition to an attraction that used to be more famous for its dinosaur skeletons and other bones. Visitors can checkout thousands of specimens at the three-story Wall of Wings or learn how to start a butterfly garden at home.

  

A Historic City – Jacksonville

Explore Jacksonville’s colorful seafaring past at Jacksonville’s Maritime Museum, recently relocated to The Jacksonville Landing.

Or take in Jacksonville’s Fire Museum which displays an Ahrens Fox steam pumper used in Jacksonville’s Great Fire of 1901.

Both museums are free. The landing also is a good place to find a bite to eat, shop or enjoy a view of the St. Johns River.

A Taste of Old Florida – Cedar Key

Not far from Gainsville, the tiny fishing village of Cedar Key melds historic homes and comfortable hotels with breathtaking views and restaurants that specialize in fresh seafood. The Cedar Key Marina is the spot for fishing tackle, boat rentals or Gulf fishing charters.

 There’s is also hiking and kayaking available at the Lower Suwanee National Wildlife Refuge, about ten miles away.  

Up a lazy river – Fort White

Tubing the Ichetucknee River has been a rite of passage for University of Florida students for decades, but it has evolved a bit from the days of dangling six-packs into the water by ropes attached to discarded inner tubes.

Tubers now rent specially designed flotation devices from vendors near the entrance to Ichetucknee Springs State Park, an hour northwest of Gainesville near Fort White. Arrive early in summer; when the park often reaches capacity by afternoon. 

Canoeing the Ichetucknee River

Floating down the Ichetucknee River

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