The town of High Springs is located in north-central Florida’s Alachua County just north of Gainesville.
It’s most well-known for the refreshing springs that bubble to the surface and maintain a temperature of just 72 degrees year-round, even when the air temperature and humidity are making things nearly unbearable.
Visitors to High Springs have access to a variety of popular state parks that offer outdoor-loving travelers an abundance of natural environments and amenities, and there are plenty of reasonably priced dining and lodging options nearby as well.
Below are 15 things to do in and around High Springs, Florida.
1. High Springs Museum
First-time visitors to High Springs looking to get a unique insight into the history of the town could do a lot worse than spending an hour at the High Springs Museum.
Located on NW 187th Avenue just behind City Hall, it’s adjacent to the town’s historic schoolhouse that’s worth checking out as well.
The museum’s exhibits focus on the settlement era, the local economy and culture, and the Native Americans who called the area home long before the city was officially founded.
The museum is open on Saturdays and Sundays, and admission is free, so swing by and take a look.
2. The Great Outdoors Restaurant
Located on Main Street in the downtown area, The Great Outdoors Restaurant is known for its inviting décor, hand-picked steaks, fresh seafood, and mouth-watering desserts.
Over the last decade, the restaurant has consistently won awards that rank it in the upper echelons of similar eateries in the state. Though it may not be a good fit for those looking to feed a family on the cheap, it’s the perfect place for a romantic evening and food unlike you’ll find anywhere else in town.
Most items are made fresh on-site, and there are plenty of light options like soup and salad for those counting calories.
3. Ichetucknee Springs State Park
No matter where you find yourself in the Sunshine State, you’re likely not very far from a state park or two.
Ichetucknee Springs State Park is a mecca for fit and active outdoorsy types and offers a variety of recreation options, including tubing, swimming, snorkeling, and mountain biking.
The park sits near the confluence of the Santa Fe River and Ichetucknee Springs and was made an official natural landmark in the early ‘70s.
From May until September, the river inside the park is often full of tubers, swimmers, and anglers. Whether you decide to see things from the water or land, you’ll likely encounter a variety of natural habitats and the animals that inhabit them.
4. Bike Florida
With its abundance of sunshine and moderate year-round temperatures, Florida is an outdoor lover’s paradise. When many unfortunate souls in the Northeast and Midwest are bundled in their homes with the heat on full-blast, Floridians are out enjoying the great outdoors.
Bike Florida is a local nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting activity and fitness. Their key annual event is a week-long bicycling extravaganza that takes place in the spring.
The event includes safety courses, guided tours, and lots of opportunities for self-exploration. The trail stretches for more than 200 miles along the St. Johns River-to-Sea Loop and is appropriate for those of most ages. Check out their website for upcoming events.
5. Gilchrist Blue Springs State Park
Gilchrist Blue Springs State Park is just a few miles from downtown High Springs and is comprised of more than 200 natural acres that have been owned and operated by the same local family for more than seven decades.
The park borders the Santa Fe River and features a boardwalk that’s the perfect vantage point from which to peer into the spring’s crisp, clear waters.
The water maintains a refreshing 72 degrees year-round, making it perfect for an afternoon dip when the sun is at its hottest. There are plenty of easily walkable nature trails, covered picnic areas, and built-in barbecue grills for those who’d like to make a day of it.
6. Traveler’s Campground
For much of the year, Florida’s weather is perfect for camping, and for those traveling with kids who’ve never spent the night in a tent, campgrounds are great places to hang your hat while saving a few bucks and making memories that will likely last a lifetime.
Traveler’s Campground is located on April Boulevard in Alachula, and previous guests have noted that it was clean, orderly, generally well-managed and that it had all the amenities they expected.
Daily, weekly, and monthly rates are available, and most sites include electric and water. There are plenty of restrooms, showers, and a travel store that provides food, toiletries, and camping supplies like propane and ice.
7. High Springs Playhouse
Community theaters are true traveler’s gems that often get overlooked in favor of more commercial attractions, but they’re inexpensive forms of family-friendly entertainment that should be taken advantage of whenever possible.
The High Springs Playhouse recently celebrated its 27th consecutive season, and their schedule is chockfull of dramatic productions, including suspenseful murder mysteries and new twists on old classics, like William Shakespeare’s Macbeth and Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol.
Tickets may be purchased individually or for the entire six-show season, the latter option giving theater lovers the most flexibility and bang for their hard-earned travel and entertainment dollars.
8. High Springs Brewing Company
Florida’s sun and fresh air have a way of depleting the tanks of many harried travelers. For those who find themselves in need of a little liquid sustenance, there’s no better place to spend a few afternoon or evening hours than the High Springs Brewing Company.
Featuring a variety of beers brewed on-site in a number of distinct flavor profiles, the brewing company is famous for its friendly staff and comfortable atmosphere.
Local food trucks usually take-up temporary residence in the lot to feed visitors with a variety of tasty street foods. There’s also live entertainment some nights and an outdoor seating area that’s perfect in the evening.
9. Carson Springs Wildlife Conservation Foundation
Carson Springs Wildlife Conservation Foundation is a unique facility dedicated to rescuing exotic animals that have been injured or abandoned.
Though it’s somewhat like a zoo, the conservation foundation is more like an animal ER and rest home, and it’s open to the public for private and group tours.
Located on East County Road 225 in Gainesville, in addition to its rescue mission, the staff are dedicated to education and offer a variety of programs geared toward school children.
Tours must be booked in advance, so give them a call and let them know when you’ll be coming before making a special trip.
10. Cade Museum for Creativity and Invention
Though many of the exhibits and activities at the Cade Museum for Creativity and Invention were designed with kids in mind, adults usually end-up having a great time as well.
The museum’s founders envisioned a unique facility that promoted things that are often overlooked in schools, like creativity, problem-solving, and entrepreneurship. Though it’s only been open for a few years, it’s already attracted quite a loyal following.
Regularly scheduled field trips introduce children to local business owners, scientists, and inventors, allowing them to engage in stimulating activities that they probably wouldn’t have access to otherwise.
11. Lubee Bat Conservancy
Truth be told, most people find bats creepy, and though they’re often the stuff of nightmares, they’re fascinating animals that play vital roles in promoting healthy ecosystems the world over.
The Lubee Bat Conservancy is located on NW 192nd Avenue in Gainesville and is a unique attraction that tends to far exceed visitor’s expectations.
The conservancy is home to numerous bat species, and the staff are dedicated to educating the public on the importance of these nocturnal, radar-equipped flying mammals. Guided tours are the best way to experience the facility.
They also host the annual Florida Bat Festival that takes place in October.
12. Florida Museum of Natural History
The University of Florida in Gainesville is an activity-rich attraction that’s the perfect day-trip option for those staying in High Springs.
From nationally-ranked sports programs to art, cultural, and historical attractions, the university is brimming with fun ways to spend a day, and the Florida Museum of Natural History is one of its most visited attractions.
The museum features an impressive collection of exhibits and artifacts that touch on animals, the environment, Native Americans, and science.
Though there’s no admission charge to visit the museum’s permanent exhibits, a small fee may apply to temporary exhibitions and the ever-popular Butterfly Rainforest.
13. O’leno State Park
O’leno State Park is one of the oldest parks of its kind in Florida, and many of its amenities were developed and built by laborers working for the Civilian Conservation Corps in the ‘30s.
The park sits along the scenic shores of the Santa Fe River and is comprised of a variety of distinct habitats, including hardwood forests, swamps, sandhills, and even primordial sinkholes.
The park is a short drive from High Springs and tends to draw outdoorsmen, nature lovers, and amateur photographers.
Biking and hiking are also popular park activities, and though the park often draws crowds during peak times, it’s big enough that it doesn’t usually feel overcrowded.
14. Kanapaha Botanical Gardens
Located on SW 58th Drive and featuring a number of distinctly themed cultivated areas that include bamboo, herbs, and orchids, the Kanapaha Botanical Gardens are popular area attractions that are often likened to an oasis in the midst of the bustling college town.
Though they’re beautiful year-round, the gardens are particularly stunning in the spring when many of the flowers are in bloom.
Generally, March is a safe bet, and it’s when the annual Spring Garden Festival takes place. The gardens are connected by well-marked paths and include informative signs describing the things you’re seeing. Admission is reasonably inexpensive.
15. Samuel P. Harn Museum of Art
Like the aforementioned Florida Museum of Natural History, the Samuel P. Harn Museum of Art is located on the campus of the University of Florida in Gainesville.
The museum’s collection features nearly 10,000 works done in a variety of mediums from all over the world, and it regularly exhibits works on-loan from other institutions and private collections as well.
Both admission and guided tours are free, and those who’d rather show themselves around at their own pace are free to do so.
The grounds around the museum include a Japanese-inspired rock garden, numerous sculptures, and covered seating areas that are tranquil places to relax with a cold drink out of reach of the sun’s rays.