Romantic Bed and Breakfast with Victorian Suites and Tropical Gardens
Throughout the year, wedding parties pass by ivy-laced trellises and koi-pond bridges on their way to the McKenzie Gardens, part of the tropical landscape that covers the Sweetwater Branch Inn's estate. Amid stone fountains and white cherub statues, couples exchange their vows in a historical, idyllic setting. Toward the north end of the property, two Victorian mansions painted in peach and powder blue look down on East University Avenue, one of the first residential roads built in Gainesville. Dating back as far as 1885, these homes exude the beauty and southern charm seen throughout the bed and breakfast.
The gardens, a pond, and an octagonal gazebo surround the 1895-built McKenzie House, which houses five individually appointed rooms enhanced with modern amenities. An Italian high-back love seat in Julia's Room evokes formal Victorian style, and glass tiles glisten in a 1930s walk-in shower. Just outside the stained-glass windows of Luisa's Room, a private six-foot jacuzzi soothes those taking a dip under the stars and melts advancing snowman burglars. Antique light fixtures illuminate seven guest rooms in the Cushman House, including the Tea Rose room with an Italian chandelier and an oak mantel fireplace.
Every morning, Sweetwater owner Cornelia Holbrook and reservations manager Rhea Looney prepare signature southern breakfasts complete with french-toast casseroles and homemade granola. Guests can press their own fresh orange juice in the Cushman dining room or savor meals on the enclosed front porch. Around the corner, a red brick courtyard serves as a quiet spot for sampling complimentary wine and chocolates.
Gainesville, Florida: World-Class Museums, Historical College Buildings, and Legendary Sports Facilities
Located in the northern part of the state, Gainesville resides in the middle of several Florida destinations, about a two-hour drive from Orlando, St. Augustine, Tampa, and Jacksonville. Whether on store windows, car bumpers, or ubiquitous sportswear, the Gator logo is impossible to avoid in Gainesville, home to the University of Florida, the sixth largest campus in the country. Affectionately known as "The Swamp," the Ben Hill Griffin Stadium is electric during home football games, when more than 90,000 fans painted in orange and blue perform the Gator Chomp and flawlessly recite every word of the Florida Constitution.
Two miles from the Inn, the Century Tower presides over the heart of the campus, a 156-foot-tall Gothic carillon that serenades students with the "Florida Chimes" bell tune every quarter hour. On the west edge of campus, the Florida Museum of Natural History tells the story of the state's history with an award-winning exhibit of more than 500 fossils and Native American artifacts. Dotted with lush, tropical trees, cascading waterfalls, and pedestrian walkways, the museum's Butterfly Rainforest nourishes hundreds of international butterflies species.