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Gainesville, Florida’s premier college town is the perfect destination to escape to nature and reconnect with the simpler things in life. Although it has a great energetic vibe given the large student population that resides here, the city is far quieter than the other popular cities of Florida. Many visitors to Gainesville are here for a game at the renowned Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, or to visit the university. However, there’s much more to the city than just education and football. Linger on in one of the hotels in Gainesville, Florida and you’ll discover why it’s also highly rated as one of the best places to live in the United States.
Gainesville was originally a small stopover along the Florida Railroad Company’s line. It has grown vastly since then, especially after the opening of the university. The young population is largely responsible for the city’s thriving music and cultural scene. While the attractions in the city may not be as over the top as the top things to do in Orlando or other popular cities in Florida, there is more than enough to keep a visitor engaged.
Orlando is a little over two hours from Gainesville so if you would rather base yourself in Orlando and drive down to the university town, that’s a good option too. If you’re on a vacation or traveling with a pet, you could stay at accommodation that has some of the best hotel pools in Orlando or one of the pet-friendly hotels in Orlando. While you won’t find too many luxury options in Gainesville, most hotels in the city feature a swimming pool and many of them are pet-friendly too.
Where to Stay in Gainesville
Where you stay in the city will largely depend on your personal interests. However, since Gainseville is a small city no matter where you decide to stay, the attractions are easily explored on foot. Most people, however, choose to stay in either midtown or downtown to be closer to the restaurants, shopping areas, and the university.
If you’re keen on exploring the nightlife of Gainseville, you’ll find plenty of unique things to do in both midtown and downtown. From local performances to the vibrant ambiance in the breweries or wineries and bars, these areas of the city are happening places. During the day, Union Street Farmer’s Market and the University of Florida are some of the must-sees of downtown while midtown is closer to the famous Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. Agriculture enthusiasts will love the restored Victorian and Queen Anne style residences that blend in with the modern architecture.
Hotels in Gainesville, Florida that are closer to the main city center will obviously be more expensive than those on the periphery of the city. However, you won’t find any luxury hotels as such here, but some of the boutique hotels at refurbished Victorian-era properties exude an other-worldly charm. The hotels that are on the outskirts generally have beautiful locations and provide easy access to the beautiful outdoors that Gainesville is so famous for.
AC Hotel by Marriott
The AC Hotel by Marriott is one of the newest hotels in Gainesville, Florida across from the campus of the University of Florida. Part of the new Standard, this hotel is located in the lively Midtown area close to Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. There are plenty of shopping and dining options nearby.
Well-appointed guest rooms reflect European inspired designs with premium bedding and sleek furniture. You can look forward to modern comforts such as flat-screen Smart HDTVs, minifridges, and high-speed WiFi. Guests can choose from Standard guest rooms or two-room suites.
You can enjoy tapas and handcrafted cocktails or craft brews at the AC Lounge. ‘Grab n Go breakfast’ and dinner options are available at the AC Kitchen. A good place to hang out at the hotel is at the rooftop pool or burn a few calories at the fitness center.
Just off I-75 and a short 20-minute drive from Gainesville Regional Airport you’ll find the Comfort Inn. If you’re looking for centrally located hotels in Gainesville, Florida, this is a good option. Most of the city’s attractions are easily accessible such as Kanapaha Botanical Gardens and the Samuel P. Harn Museum of Art. If you’re here for a game, you can take the hotel’s shuttle service straight to the stadium.
Spacious guest rooms come equipped with coffee makers, flat-screen TVs, refrigerators, and microwaves. For those here on work, you can request a room with a work desk.
This pet-friendly hotel also offers free outdoor parking and a free hot breakfast which includes the hotel’s famous waffles. An onsite fitness center and a seasonal outdoor pool are good spaces to unwind at the end of the day. Business travelers can also use the facilities of the business center and the meeting room.
Hampton Inn & Suites
Many hotels in Gainesville FL are located close to the stadium since many guests come here to cheer on the Florida Gators. Hampton Inn & Suites is about a 10-minute drive from the stadium. The Florida Museum of Natural History and Harn Museum of Art is also at a convenient distance. You’ll find many restaurants and bars within easy walking distance from the accommodation.
Guests can choose from various categories of rooms or suites outfitted with modern comforts. Apart from the clean, comfortable Hampton bed, suites also have a sofa bed. Some rooms have a dry bar area with a mini-refrigerator. Bathrooms feature walk-in showers.
While there’s no onsite restaurant, guests can enjoy a free hot breakfast every morning. Other amenities at the property include an outdoor saltwater pool and whirlpool. You’ll also find a fitness center and a business center.
Magnolia Plantation Bed & Breakfast
If you’re looking for a novel experience in Gainesville, the Magnolia Plantation Bed & Breakfast is a wonderful place to stay. This 1885 French Second Empire Victoria Mansion was painstakingly restored to its present state, with the original floor plan in place. It opened in 1991 and has since received numerous accolades. The property is just minutes from the historic downtown area and less than two miles to the University of Florida campus.
You’ll find many historic homes in this friendly neighborhood where you can enjoy an evening stroll. The Magnolia Plantation Inn is a three-story inn decorated in period furnishings. There are five-bed chambers within the inn with a gas fireplace and a private bath. Alternatively, guests can choose to stay in one of the nine cottages on the property. Furnished in the Country-Craftsman and Colonial style the cottages range in size and style. They feature kitchens equipped with cooking utensils and stocked with the basics. Some cottages also have a Jacuzzi tub and fireplace. All have free WiFi.
A full breakfast is served daily at the convenience of guests. You can choose to dine in the formal dining room, the garden gazebo, or have the breakfast delivered to your cottage. Complimentary snacks and beverages are available throughout the day. There’s also a social hour every evening at the Inn with wine and snacks. The surroundings of the property are beautiful with lush tropical gardens, brick walking paths, fountains, ponds, and waterfalls.
La Quinta by Wyndham
Another hotel in Gainesville FL that is conveniently located off exit 387 on I-75 is the La Quinta by Wyndham. The hotel in downtown Gainesville is just minutes away from the University of Florida. You’ll find plenty to keep you occupied in the vicinity with parks, breweries, and shopping at a convenient distance from the property. If you’re looking for affordable hotels in Gainesville FL, this is a great choice.
The property is fairly new and it shows in the clean and spacious rooms. Rooms are tasteful and equipped with a few modern conveniences such as free WiFi, HDTV, coffee/tea maker, and mini-refrigerator. This pet-friendly property also allows pets on request.
Guests begin the day with a complimentary Bright Side Breakfast which includes eggs, waffles, and more. There’s also free onsite parking for guests. While there’s no onsite restaurant, the hotel has an onsite gift shop. A fitness center, business center, and outdoor pool are also available for guests.
Hilton University of Florida Conference Center
For someone visiting the University of Florida, the Hilton University of Florida Conference Center is one of the best hotels in Gainesville FL in terms of convenience. Located on the university premises, it doesn’t get better than this! The hotel is also one of the most pet-friendly hotels in the area. Half a mile from the hotel you’ll find the Florida Museum of Natural History and the Performing Arts Center.
The spacious guest rooms with their sleek furnishings and Hilton Serenity bed are stylish and comfortable. You’ll find a host of standard amenities in the rooms plus bathroom amenities. Bathrooms feature glass-enclosed walk-in showers or bathtubs.
Unlike most of the hotels on our list, the Hilton University of Florida has a few in house dining options. the No Name Lounge is a casual dining space overlooking the stylish outdoor dining patio and swimming pool. It’s open from 1.00 – 11.00 p.m. every day. However, Shula’s American Steakhouse is the hotel’s crowning glory. Opened in 1989, the restaurant brand by Miami Dolphins football coaching legend Don Shula has slowly gained in reputation. You can enjoy some high-quality cuisine paired with award-winning wine lists and craft cocktails. The restaurant is open for breakfast and dinner. However, if you’d prefer to relax in the cozy comfort of your room, room service is also available.
In addition to this, you’ll also find an outdoor pool, hot tub, business center, and gym. Guests can also avail of onsite complimentary parking.
Country Inn & Suites by Radisson
The Country Inn & Suites by Radisson may not be your idea of a highly stylish hotel but it’s a great option for families with kids. It’s one of the hotels in Gainesville FL that is excellent value for money. Like many of the hotels in Gainesville, this one is also located just off I-75. It’s a great base if you’re here for a game or if you’re headed to Devil’s Den Spring for snorkeling. The hotel is also close to Ichetucknee Springs State Park.
You’ll find spacious guest rooms that are clean and functional with in-room amenities such as flat-screen TVs, mini-fridges, microwaves, and a coffee-maker. WiFi is also free in all rooms.
Other amenities that you can look forward to at the hotel are a complimentary hot breakfast that offers a rotating menu, a fitness center, and a business center. There’s also a heated indoor pool where you can unwind at the end of the day.
If you’re in Gainesville for an extended stay, the Staybridge Suites is one of the best hotels in Gainesville FL to stay at. The hotel is only a few miles from the University of Florida and Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. It’s also at a convenient distance from other must-see attractions such as the Kanapaha Botanical Gardens and Ginnie Springs.
There are 109 guest suites spread over five floors. The newly renovated suites are beautifully appointed with tasteful furnishings. All suites include a full kitchen with supporting utensils and daily housekeeping. Guests can also enjoy free WiFi plus a host of other modern comforts.
Whilst guests can enjoy a complimentary grab & go breakfast from the breakfast bar each morning, the evening social has been temporarily suspended due to the current situation. Other amenities at the Staybridge Suites include on-site self-laundry service, a business center, and a well-equipped fitness center. The heated outdoor pool and whirlpool are also available for guests from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Drury Inn & Suites
For visitors looking for affordable hotels in Gainesville FL, the Drury Inn & Suites is a good option. It’s just minutes from the University of Florida at I-75 and SW Archer Road. You’re also in proximity to the Ben Hill Griffin Stadium and local shopping. If you’re here for medical treatment the Shands Hospital and Malcolm Randall VA Medical Center are a few miles from here.
The hotel features rooms that are simply furnished but big on comfort. You’ll find standard amenities such as minifridges, microwaves, and flat-screen TVs plus tea/coffee making facilities in all rooms. Guests can choose from King, Queen rooms, or suites. The two-room suites have a separate sleeping and living area, separated by a door.
You can look forward to a good spread at the free breakfast each morning served from 6.00 -9.00 a.m. There’s also a free Kickback hour in the evening where guests can enjoy free hot food and cold beverages like beer, wine, and soft drinks. Business travelers can use the amenities of the flexible meeting space. Other amenities include an outdoor pool, whirlpool, and a fitness center. Like most of its other properties, the Drury Inn & Suites is also pet-friendly.
Sweetwater Branch Inn
Similar to the Magnolia Plantation, the Sweetwater Branch Inn is also located in a Victorian complex and is ideal for those looking for unique accommodation. The vibe at this property is unlike the other hotels in Gainesville, Florida. You’ll feel like you’ve stepped into the luxurious past at this Victorian-era property. It offers the best of Southern hospitality and Victorian comfort infused with modern conveniences.
The Inn’s location in downtown Gainesville is also perfect for those wanting to explore the attractions. The historic Matheson House and Matheson Museum are a five-minute walk from here while the University of Florida is a short drive away. There are plenty of dining options within walking distance from the property.
The property consists of two main houses the Cushman House and McKenzie house where you’ll find 12 beautifully restored guest suites. McKenzie House dates back to 1895 and is listed on the National Registry of Historic Places. Depending on the kind of space you’re looking for, there are 25 gorgeous guest rooms, suites, and cottages to choose from. Each suite is unique in style and comes fitted with a king or queen-sized bed, private bath, and gorgeous views. Some suites even feature hot tubs and a sunroom. There are seven detached cottages also which have their own special features such as wrap-around porches or a balcony and a hot tub. Some cottages are also pet-friendly so if you’re traveling with your furry friend this is one of the best options.
Guests can look forward to a delicious complimentary breakfast each morning and a Wine & Cheese Hour in the evening. The property also offers free onsite parking but even if you don’t have your own vehicle, there’s no problem. A shuttle service can be pre-arranged for those who want to explore the city. There are also onsite bike rentals. Apart from all this, the beautiful gardens with fountains and gazebo, and the outdoor pool are perfect if you just want to spend the day in.
Best Western Gateway Grand
Unlike most of the hotels in Gainesville, Florida on our list, the Best Western Gateway Grand has a more rural location off Interstate 75. It’s an ideal location for those looking to get away from the city for a weekend. Not too close to the city but close enough to enjoy the action. Gainesville’s attractions such as the Ben Hill Griffin Stadium and Ginnie Springs are a short drive from the hotel.
The guest rooms and suites at the Best Western Gateway Grand Hotel are enhanced with all the necessities for a comfortable stay. This eco-friendly hotel has spacious ADA-compliant accommodations which are also open to pets at an extra fee. It’s a great place for families as children under 17 years are not charged. Families can also request connecting rooms or rollaway beds. As suggested by the name, the Grand Hot Tub Suites feature a spacious hot tub plus two plush robes for in-suite use. If you’re looking for a larger space, the Presidential Suite with its large balcony and two King Bed Rooms will definitely cater to your needs.
One of the standout features of the hotel is the Gators Den Sports Grill. With its vibrant atmosphere, it’s one of the best places to be when a game is on. The menu has a large selection of American favorites, plus beers and wines. Guests can also join in the happy hour from 5-7 p.m every day.
Another great place to enjoy the beautiful Florida weather is at the outdoor pool and spa. The hotel also has a huge space for meetings and other events. Guests are also served a free continental breakfast every morning.
Recommended Restaurants / Bars in Gainesville:
- Embers Prime Steaks Wood Grill – Located on Southwest 34th Street, this steak house has been in the list of the top ten steak houses in Florida, and with good reason. Besides the delectable USDA prime cut meats that you can feast on, the setting is also gorgeous. An ivy-laden outdoor courtyard, a lounge, and a private dining room plus Thursday night jazz add to the charm of dining here.
- Satchel’s Pizza – If you have the time and are in the mood for some superb pizza, this is the place to go in downtown. Although the waiting time can be quite lengthy, it will be worth your while. The personalized, handmade pizzas are the stuff of legends. While you wait for your turn you can enjoy some live music.
- Swamp Head Brewery – The Wetlands tasting room of this brewery is one of the best spots to grab a drink at the end of a busy day. It’s well known for its beers that change with the seasons. You can also take a tour of the brewery.
Recommended Activities In Gainesville:
- Hippodrome State Theater – Culture buffs will enjoy spending a day at this theater in downtown. The theater features an art gallery, cinema, and live shows. So if you’re in a mood for a classic Broadway musical you’ll probably be able to catch a show here.
- Devil’s Den – A good day trip is to the Devil’s Den Spring a naturally formed underground spring where you can dive into the depths of its clear water on a scuba dive or enjoy snorkeling.
- Florida Museum of Natural History – One of the top five natural history museums in the country, this museum located at the University of Florida is a great place to take the kids. The permanent exhibits include fossils, wildlife, waterways, and much more. There are also three rotating exhibits. One of the more popular exhibits is the Butterly Rainforest which is the only paid site in the museum.