Relax and unwind in the Gainesville area at gardens, parks, a museum and a spa.

Amid the hustle and bustle of a University town quiet escapes from The Swamp are necessary for a sense of balance. Around Gainesville and Alachua County it's not hard – or expensive – to capture those stress-relieving moments if you know just where to look.

Soak up Serenity

As the wind rustles tall stands of bamboo at Kanapaha Botanical Gardens the delicate sound is that of being surrounded by hundreds of wooden windchimes. A moment of Zen awaits beneath the bowers of tall stems and delicate leaves in Kanapaha’s expansive Bamboo Garden. Poe Springs Park glimmers as its waters rise from deep within the earth. Relax on the shore and gaze into its depths or slip into the water for a swim. Cypresses cast reflections as the spring run merges into the winding Santa Fe River where a kayak trip upriver will slow your sense of time. As orange blossoms release their scent they bring back memories of a pioneer past at Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings Historic State Park. Pause for sunset along US 441 in Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park to watch prairie grasses painted gold and flocks of egrets returning to roost.

Escape into the Arts

Survey the mastery of form at the Samuel P. Harn Museum of Art for a walking meditation through art appreciation. The region is home to a broad variety of art galleries showcasing media as diverse as stained glass woodturning and pottery. It’s all part of the mix at the High Springs Art Co-Op where the daily artist in residence creates amid inspirational surroundings. To experience the “best medicine” to brighten your day have some laughs at the historic Hippodrome State Theatre while watching a kitschy play or comedic performance.

Retreat into Relaxation

Bring together mind body and spirit at the Floating Lotus Spa where the gentle touch of smooth hot stones on bare skin brings relaxation to a deeper level. Find a new perspective beneath the Cellon Oak in Cellon Oak Park in LaCrosse – it’s the largest live oak in Florida and one of the grandest in the South. A Sunday afternoon in Micanopy means the finest of folk music on the porch of Coffee and Cream with local artists sharing their compositions. Slip into slumber inside a grand room in the historic Herlong Mansion where warblers in the gardens outside provide a morning symphony.

Dive into Dinner

Experience food as art at Liquid Ginger where Asian creations are served with a contemporary twist and the meal moves at a meditative pace. Enjoy big eats in a small town at Blue Water Bay in Melrose the “in” place for spectacular seafood fine brews and mile-high desserts. Sinking your teeth into a Porterhouse steak may be just the moment you need to release a little stress and the best place to do it is at Conestogas Restaurant in Alachua where the steaks are top-class but the atmosphere is down-home. Whether you find your bliss in a garden or a gallery and feed your soul with art or good food Gainesville and Alachua County have the moments you crave to slow your life down to the perfect pace for a relaxing visit.

This article is brought to you by the Gainesville/Alachua County Visitors & Convention Bureau. For more information about Gainesville and Alachua County visit