Urban or rural, the choice is yours.
Alachua County offers a remarkable choice of options when it comes to the place you can call home.
We’ve got downtown urban, rural farmstead, and everything in between. Short commutes make it possible to live and work in the place that appeals to you. Select from historic neighborhoods, planned communities, subdivisions, small towns, horse farms or downtown condos.
Regardless of where you live, you’ll be minutes away from rural vistas, outdoor recreation, small town main streets and Gainesville’s urban centers.
Enjoy our sense of placeAlachua County has a long history. Recently discovered canoes at Newnan’s Lake were created as far back as 5,000 years ago. In 1774 the naturalist William Bartram visited Seminole tribespeople in Micanopy, the longest continuously inhabited inland settlement in Florida. The first railway in the state passed through Gainesville on its way from Fernandina Beach on the Atlantic Ocean to Cedar Key on the Gulf of Mexico. To live here is to experience an interesting combination of rich heritage and the latest cutting-edge innovations. Our geography is diverse in its look and feel, too. To the north is high country with dry hammock woodlands, ranches, and our primary rivers. The land falls away in rolling sweeps to the southern part of the county with its primal savannas, prairies, lakes and wetlands. Our conserved lands provide outdoor recreation, protection of the aquifer from which we drink and abundant wildlife—eagles, osprey, otters and bison, just to name a few.
Wherever you choose to live, you will find a warm welcome, friendly neighbors and a diverse, creative population. Whatever our lifestyle choice, we are devoted to protecting our environment. We know you’ll share our interest in what we call Florida Friendly Landscaping, whether it’s for container gardens, edible landscapes, community gardens or native plantings. A view from the air makes it obvious that Gainesville is a city in a forest, justifiably earning us the coveted Tree City designation.
We’re blessed with the ability to grow year-round gardens, with plantings that will thrive in every season. Edible landscapes offer beauty and bounty. Native plants attract birds and butterflies and require less maintenance and less water. There are landscapers and nurseries to help you, and workshops by Master Gardeners to teach you all about what it means to support a Florida Friendly yard and ecosystem.
Our small townsEach small town in Alachua County has its own unique identity. Whether you choose to live in a particular community or prefer to visit, you will find that our small towns contribute to our overall sense of place.
Picture Gainesville as the central hub for the county with roads radiating out like spokes toward our small towns. High Springs, Alachua, LaCrosse, Waldo, Melrose, Hawthorne, Cross Creek, Evinston, Micanopy, Archer and Newberry are each between 10-25 miles from Gainesville’s city center. Each town offers different ways to get involved in the local community.
Our Rural AreasCountry living is another option, perhaps with a view of a prairie, alongside a lake, under tall pines or the spreading limbs of ancient oaks. Portions of Alachua County are part of Florida’s Horse Country. Marion County to the south has some 700 thoroughbred horse farms. You don’t have to operate a full-scale farm to enjoy a bit of pasture to keep a couple of horses. Alachua County’s rural areas also offer opportunities for innovative farmers who want to grow specialty crops, organic produce for Gainesville’s restaurants, or raise livestock. Many people simply enjoy the quiet, open space of country living.
Gainesville’s oldest neighborhoods cluster around downtown, centered at University Avenue and Main Street. Paynes Prairie to the south and Newnan’s Lake to the east created natural barriers to expansion. The building of I-75 offered further incentive for each new addition to the city to be a bit farther to the west and northwest. In the last two decades, there have been significant new communities built along the edges of Gainesville as well as a renewed interest in living in the city’s historic core. Wherever you choose to live, you will find that Gainesville is filled with trees, neighborhood activity and a strong interest in Gainesville’s signature community events—sports, arts and culture, civic activities and education.
Gainesville: Downtown LivingIn Gainesville, downtown living appeals to many who enjoy the urban vibe and the ability to get around on foot or bicycle. The scene is an eclectic mix of government offices, law firms, tech startup companies, restaurants, cafes and clubs. Amenities include the Alachua County Public Library Headquarters Branch, a cooperative grocery store, plenty of sidewalk cafes, and films and plays at the Hippodrome Theatre. The Hippodrome anchors a growing arts district that includes working studios, galleries, theater and music spaces and much more. Free concerts and weekly farmers’ markets take place at the Bo Diddley Community Plaza. Downtown living provides easy connectivity to much of Gainesville through the RTS central bus hub and bike trails. Gainesville’s historic neighborhoods are a short distance away from the compact downtown area.
Gainesville: Historic Neighborhoods
Historic neighborhoods close to downtown offer the option of getting around on foot or bicycle. Cycle trails network many of these neighborhoods with other parts of the city. Many established and new developments are a short commute to work, schools, or recreation, with each community offering a different choice of amenities and community flavor. The Southeast Historic District was Gainesville’s first “suburb”—a five-minute walk from the center of downtown across Sweetwater Branch creek. The area is now home to the Bed and Breakfast District and a diverse mix of apartments, condos and homes. Amenities include easy access to downtown, bike trail, parks and community garden.
The Duckpond Neighborhood straddles Sweetwater Branch creek as it runs down Northeast Boulevard, while actual ducks swim in the pond. The Thomas Hotel, where poet Robert Frost spent winters, is now the Thomas Center, a gracious location for cultural events, festivals and weddings. An architecturally interesting mix of homes, from bungalows to mansions, makes the Duckpond a wonderful neighborhood for walking. Amenities include easy access to supermarkets and shops on Main Street, parks, the Thelma Bolton Community Center and a walking-distance downtown.
Beyond the official boundaries of the Duckpond Neighborhood, affordable residential areas continue north and east.
Grove Street Neighborhood extends from NW 8th Avenue north along NE 4th Street, the median lined with bush-size groves of fragrant rosemary. Amenities include access to shops on Main Street and NW 6th Street and an active community garden/cultural space.
Pleasant Street is the vibrant, historic core of Gainesville’s African-American community centered along NW 5th Avenue. Homes include a mix of restored historic bungalows with front porches, Victorian gingerbread, and apartment dwellings. Amenities include easy access to the University Avenue, the NW 6th Street and NW 13th Street commercial corridors, the Wilhelmina Johnson Community Center, and close proximity to the University of Florida and Santa Fe College’s Blount Center.
Gainesville: East and Northeast GainesvilleGenerally speaking, neighborhoods east of Main Street are identified as East Gainesville. The area consists of a number of historic neighborhoods, described above, and long stretches of residential neighborhoods in the Northeast quadrant, east along University Avenue, adjacent to Newnan’s Lake, and along Hawthorne Road.
The Northeast is made up of tree-lined residential streets on a grid with mostly ranch-style homes and some apartment complexes. With the exception of the Super Walmart on Waldo Road, this area is primarily served by locally-owned restaurants and businesses. Several schools, Ironwood Golf Course, the Alachua County Fairgrounds and the Gainesville Regional Airport are all in the Northeast.
East of the Duckpond Neighborhood and crossing over Waldo Road into the Duval Community are a mix of homes and apartments on the street grid. The Martin Luther King Multipurpose Center and Citizen’s Field off Waldo Road are host to many intramural athletics, community activities and the site of one of three public swimming pools in Gainesville.
Gainesville: SoutheastAlong East University Avenue and Hawthorne Road are various residential neighborhoods and extensive forest cover. Morningside Nature Center, Newnan’s Lake and Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park make this a prime place for experiencing Florida heritage and Florida nature. The Hawthorne Trail begins just south of downtown and threads its way through neighborhoods, the historic Evergreen Cemetary, Boulware Springs, and Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park. The trail passes along several other publicly accessible conservation lands on its way to the town of Hawthorne. East Gainesville is home to Eastside High School and Loften High School, a new community center and athletic fields on East University Avenue, and the McPherson public swimming pool. Fishing is popular at Palm Point and Powers Park on Newnan’s Lake. Along the southern side of Hawthorne Road are streets that dead end onto the trail and Paynes Prairie. These neighborhoods are hidden away and can reward the diligent explorer for unusual lots and homes, small lakes, or prairie views.
Gainesville: MidtownMidtown connects Gainesville’s downtown with the University of Florida main campus and with other areas north and west of the campus that are known by the names University Heights, College Park, and less glamorously referred to as the “student ghetto.” This area is full of commercial activity, many locally owned businesses, apartment complexes, sororities and individual homes. If you want easy access to the University of Florida campus, this is as close as you can get! Midtown is also the site of Innovation Hub, the business incubator at the core of Innovation Square that is transforming Midtown into a home for digital, technology, innovation and startup companies. The area is well served by bus lines and the Depot Avenue bike route. The “DNA” bridge provides easy bike and pedestrian access across SW 13th Street to Shands Hospitals, the Veterans Administration Hospital, and the University of Florida campus.
Gainesville: SouthwestBeyond the University of Florida campus, Gainesville’s street grid ends with major roadways offering the primary access routes to commercial areas, shopping malls, apartment complexes, neighborhoods and planned communities. Archer Road features major hospitals and the “miracle mile” of Butler Plaza and adjacent shopping areas, including big-name stores and local and chain eateries. Apartment complexes cater to students with swimming pools, workout rooms, clubhouses and other amenities. Southwest 13th Street includes townhouses, farms and houses on the fringe of Paynes Prairie. Williston Road includes shopping areas, apartment complexes and developments with large houses offering prairie views. To the west of I-75, Haile Plantation is a planned community with trails, town center and golf courses. Subdivisions and apartments line Archer Road and Tower Road (SW 75th Street). The area includes many schools, the Tower Road Branch Library, recreational facilities at Kanapaha Park, and Kanapaha Botanical Gardens.
Gainesville: NorthwestAs Gainesville has grown, it has expanded north and west into upland and hilly terrain. Northwest Gainesville includes a wide variety of neighborhoods and many unexpected lots that take advantage of hills, creeks, lakes and overviews. Older subdivisions, newer homes, planned communities, apartments and rentals of all types can be found in this area. Major commercial nodes include shops, eateries and movie theaters along University Avenue near West 34th Street; the Millhopper/Thornebrook shopping area and arts district at NW 16th Boulevard and NW 43rd Street; and Hunter’s Crossing at NW 53rd Street. The main campus of Santa Fe College is located near NW 39th Avenue and I-75. Extensive new subdivisions and hotels extend beyond I-75 to the west. Farther south, the Town of Tioga—a planned community with shopping and a town center—can be found on West Newberry Road along with numerous subdivisions and shopping in Jonesville. The northwest includes Westside Park with its public swimming pool, large playground and community center; Devil’s Millhopper Geological State Park, a site well known among the many who exercise on the steps leading down into this ancient sinkhole; and the extensive cycling, off-road biking and equestrian trails of San Felasco Hammock Preserve State Park.