Top things to do

Top Choice American in DeLand

Cress

Citified foodies have been known to trek to sleepy DeLand just to eat at this cutting-edge bistro, whose menu might offer such delights as local seafood mofongo (a classic Caribbean dish), Indonesian shrimp curry, a…
Top Choice American in Gainesville

Southern Charm Kitchen

There's plenty of fancy gastronomy in Gainesville, and cozy, unpretentious, friendly Southern Charm Kitchen gives them all a run for their money. This is food like your mom made, if your mom was an amazing cook who …
Top Choice Museum in Gainesville

Florida Museum of Natural History

The highlight of this excellent natural-history museum is the expansive Butterfly Rainforest (adult/child $13/6). Hundreds of butterflies from 55 to 65 species flutter freely in the soaring, screened vivarium. As yo…
Top Choice Barbecue in Ocala

Big Lee's

It's only open Friday and Saturdays, the hours are fungible – if they run out of food, they'll close, so arrive early – it's a little ways out of town, and there's not even a restaurant to sit in, just a food truck …
Top Choice Cocktail Bar in Gainesville

Dime

A small bar, some dim lighting, talented bartenders and strong, delicious cocktails – that's what you get at The Dime, a gin joint that feels like it made a wrong turn in 1930s Manhattan and ended up in central Flor…
State Park in North Central Florida

Ichetucknee Springs State Park

Relax in a giant inner tube and float through gin-clear waters at this popular park, plopped on the lazy, spring-fed Ichetucknee River.Various water sports are available here, but tubing is certainly the most popula…
Landmark in Gainesville

Bat House & Bat Barn

Across from Gainesville's little Lake Alice, adjacent to a student garden, stands what appears to be two oversized birdhouses. However, these stilted gray-roofed structures are actually home to a family of Brazilian…
State Park in North Central Florida

Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park

Wild horses and bison roam the 20 biological communities that constitute 21,000-acre Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park. This slightly eerie preserve's wet prairie, swamp, hammock and pine flatwoods are crisscrossed…
State Park in DeLand

De Leon Springs State Park

Fifteen minutes north of town, these natural springs flow into the 18,000-acre Lake Woodruff National Wildlife Refuge and were used by Native Americans 6000 years ago. Today they're a popular developed swimming area…
Forest in Ocala National Forest

Ocala National Forest

The second-largest nationally protected forest in the state of Florida, Ocala National Forest is a treasure to be savored. Hidden within 607 square miles of pristine wilderness, you'll find longleaf pine, sand-pine …