20439
Gainesville
Discover Gainesville: Sinkhole Science, Natural History and Pioneer Homesteads
Gain a deeper understanding of Florida’s unique natural history, exploring its state parks, botanical gardens, ports and old towns in this thrillingly comprehensive adventure.
Rating (4.67)
Program No. 20439RJ
Length
6 days
Starts at
1,249
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6 days
5 nights
14 meals
5 B 4 L 5 D
DAY
1
Check-in, Registration, Orientation, Intro to North Florida
Gainesville, Florida
D
Sweetwater Branch Inn Bed & Breakfast

Afternoon: Check-in: Available from 3:00pm. Program Registration: After you have your room assignment, you will receive your arrival packet with information about the time and place of our Orientation session. Orientation: Cornelia Holbrook, founder and owner of the B&B will greet you with a warm welcome, introduce everyone, and provide key staff contact names and phone numbers. We will review the up-to-date daily schedule and any changes, discuss responsibilities, safety guidelines, emergency procedures, and answer any questions you may have. Please be aware that program activities and scheduled times could change due to local circumstances. In the event of changes, we will alert you as quickly as possible. Thank you for your understanding.

Dinner: Savor a Southern dinner prepared by the Sweetwater Branch Inn’s renowned kitchen.

Evening: Take the evening to relax and get a good night's sleep for the full day tomorrow.

DAY
2
Matheson Museum, FL Natural History Museum, Dickinson Hall
Gainesville, Florida
B,L,D
Sweetwater Branch Inn Bed & Breakfast

Breakfast: Sweetwater’s breakfast features a rotating daily menu of hot items as well as home-made granola, yogurt, fresh local fruit, English muffins and toast, preserves, milk, coffee, and tea

Morning: Walk to the Matheson Museum and enjoy a private visit on the local history of downtown Gainesville. You will then be taken to the Florida Museum of Natural History to learn of the natural history in area as well as experience some of the museum's current exhibits.

Lunch: At the museum, enjoy a gourmet boxed lunch from the Sweetwater Branch Inn.

Afternoon: The afternoon will include a lecture and private visit through Dickinson Hall. Our lecturer will discuss local archeological digs being done in the area and historical findings.

Dinner: At Sweetwater Branch Inn.

Evening: Take the evening to relax and get a good night's sleep for the full day tomorrow.

DAY
3
Payne’s Prairie & Rawlings State Parks, Micanopy Museum
Gainesville, Florida
B,L,D
Sweetwater Branch Inn Bed & Breakfast

Breakfast: At Sweet Water Branch Inn.

Morning: Board a passenger van to Payne’s Prairie State Park, the states first state preserve. You will enjoy a lecture on the preserve’s history and a short hike showing the natural landscape of the area. You will truly get a feel for what the Indians and early settlers saw in the area. From there you will head south to Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings State Park. We will have a private visit of her historic homestead and hear of her history in North Central Florida. You will have the rare opportunity to have lunch prepared in Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings' kitchen. Her historic kitchen is still operational with its old wood stove oven. While overlooking the homestead and Payne’s Prairie, as Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings did, enjoy lunch and the reenactors working in her kitchen.

Lunch: Lunch will be at Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings State Park. Tastings will be prepared in Marjorie’s kitchen and a boxed lunch from the Sweet Water Branch Inn

Afternoon: Micanopy Historical Museum. You will enjoy a lecture by a local historian and explore the museum and the little town of Micanopy. The town is considered to be the oldest inland town in Florida. Hear of its history and the Indians' trek through the town itself.

Dinner: At Sweetwater Branch Inn.

Evening: Take the evening to relax and get a good night's sleep for the full day tomorrow, explore the Matheson Museum’s Synoptic Garden, or enjoy a DVD showing of, “The Yearling”.

DAY
4
Devil's Millhopper Sinkhole, Dudley Farm, Haile Homestead
Gainesville, Florida
B,L,D
Sweetwater Branch Inn Bed & Breakfast

Activity note: Be sure to wear closed-toe shoes. There are 232 steps on a winding wooden staircase to the bottom of the 500-foot-wide, 120-foot-deep sinkhole.

Breakfast: At Sweetwater Branch Inn.

Morning: Lecture on Florida’s geology from an academic expert in this field during breakfast. We then depart for Devil's Millhopper Geological State Park where you will walk down 120 feet into an ancient sinkhole. Devil's Millhopper is a National Natural Landmark. Researchers have learned a great deal about Florida's natural history by studying fossil shark teeth, marine shells and the fossilized remains of extinct land animals found in the sink. The 120-foot deep bowl-shaped cavity leads down to a miniature rain forest. Small streams trickle down the steep slopes of the limestone sinkhole, disappearing through crevices in the ground. Lush vegetation thrives in the shade of the walls even in dry summers. We will then travel to Dudley Farm State Park. An authentic working farm demonstrating Florida farming from the 1850s to the mid-1940s, the park is also on the National Register of Historic Places.

Lunch: Enjoy a boxed lunch from the Sweetwater Branch Inn at Dudley Farm.

Afternoon: You will enjoy a private visit of the Haile Homestead build in the 1850s. The house of the “talking walks” has over 12,500 words written on the walls of the home. Enjoy being taken back to the 1800s by reading quick notes on the walls and listening to the history of the home from a local historian.

Dinner: At Sweetwater Branch Inn.

Evening: Take the evening to relax and get a good night's sleep for the full day tomorrow or enjoy a planned movie on the front porch or free time activity.

DAY
5
Shell Mound, Cedar Key Historical Museum, Boat on the Gulf
Gainesville, Florida
B,L,D
Sweetwater Branch Inn Bed & Breakfast

Breakfast: At Sweetwater Branch Inn.

Morning: We will head west to the Gulf Coast of Mexico for a lecture by an expert on the archaeology of local Indians on Shell Mound. We will explore the mound and learn about the digs. Your next stop will be the Cedar Key Historical Museum. We will be given a private visit of the exhibits and hear of Cedar Key's worldwide exports. This sleepy little town has a rich history.

Lunch: Tasty sandwiches at a local restaurant.

Afternoon: Take a pontoon boat trip around the coastal areas of Cedar Key. Learn about local and migrating shore birds and their nesting sites on the national wildlife refuge.

Dinner: Enjoy good food and good company during our farewell dinner at Sweetwater Branch Inn.

Evening: Enjoy our last evening together with Road Scholar friends and prepare for check-out and departure tomorrow morning.

DAY
6
Wrap-up Presentation, Program Concludes
Gainesville, Florida
B

Activity note: Please note: Check-out is by 11:00am.

Breakfast: At Sweetwater Branch Inn.

Morning: A presentation by Group Leader features a slide show of the week and events. The program concludes with this presentation. We hope you have enjoyed this exploration of Natural North Florida and will join us for other rewarding Road Scholar programs in the future. Please stay in touch and share your memories, pictures, and comments via the Road Scholar Social Network. Best wishes for all your journeys!