Things to Do in Gainesville: Florida Museum of Natural History Flutters Hearts

Gainesville is a beautiful place with lots to do. You know this, yet it seems like every time your family comes into town you start panicking because you don’t have an itinerary for them. You can’t keep giving them tours of campus because eventually they’ll know it better than you do. You turn to your older friends, but it seems like most of your friends’ families don’t visit that often or they don’t know what to do, either. I just went through this with my family, and I have found a great solution for all of us struggling UF students.

On the desolate side of campus (near Lakeside) lies a gem called the Florida Museum of Natural History. This place is perfect for students who have no clue where to bring their families when they visit town.

Recently, the museum opened up a huge outdoor section called the Butterfly Rainforest. It’s a sea of greens, reds and blues that are only interrupted by the flashes of blacks, whites and yellows that zoom past your eyes. There are hundreds of butterflies in the exhibit that are guaranteed to make your parents delighted that you brought them there.

The Butterfly Rainforest also has daily butterfly spotlights where butterfly experts will go into depth on the different species that can be found in the rainforest as well as the role these butterflies can play in a garden environment. This happens every Monday-Friday at 2 p.m. and at both 2 p.m. and 3 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays, weather permitting.

Admission prices for the exhibit are $14 for adults, $12 for Florida residents/non-UF college students, $12 for seniors and $7 for children aged 3-17. UF students and children under three are admitted free. If you are skipping out on the Butterfly Rainforest or the traveling exhibit, admission is free for all.

The museum also offers other exhibits for when your parents pull you in to see more. A personal favorite for my family was the exhibit on the Native American tribes that lived in Florida. The museum heavily focused on one tribe located in South Florida called the Calusas.

Also featured are various prehistoric creatures including an enormous sloth, an exhibit on different archaeological sites in Florida, their collection of butterflies from around the world and one traveling exhibit that changes periodically.

Make sure to check the museum's calendar before going — you may experience something you would have otherwise missed.

If you have any questions about the museum or any of the exhibits, call 352-846-2000.