Hotel at a Glance: Sweetwater Branch Inn
Drive along East University Avenue in Gainesville, Florida, and you'll find the McKenzie House and the Cushman House—peach and powder-blue Victorian mansions that date back as far as 1885. Restored to their original splendor, they comprise the Sweetwater Branch Inn, a bed and breakfast with unique rooms, lavish breakfasts, and an ambiance so relaxing that the property was featured on the PBS series Inn Country USA.
- Dig in to a complimentary Southern breakfast prepared by owner Cornelia Holbrook, who whips up menu items such as french-toast casseroles and housemade granola.
- Each room and cottage is different—some feature fireplaces, antiques, and jacuzzis, and all have private bathrooms.
- Socialize with other guests during the complimentary wine-and-cheese hour held each night.
- Splash around in the outdoor saltwater pool and jacuzzi.
- Walking distance to the University of Florida and the shops and restaurants of downtown Gainesville
Gainesville, Florida: World-Class Museums, Historical College Buildings, and Legendary Sports Facilities
Located in northern Florida, Gainesville conveniently sits in the middle of several Florida destinations: Orlando, St. Augustine, Tampa, and Jacksonville are all within a two-hour drive. Livability.com named it the No. 1 college town in 2010, calling it “a sports fan's paradise" because of the community's fervent love for the University of Florida's football team. You can't avoid the Gator logo here—it's brandished on store windows, car bumpers, and sportswear all over town. A visit to the Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, affectionately known as "The Swamp," reaffirms the hype as more than 90,000 rowdy, orange-and-blue-clad spectators fill the stands. But the highlight of any match comes when the band breaks into the Jaws theme song and fans collectively raise their arms for an intimidating Gator Chomp.
Much of the action in Gainesville centers on the campus, which lies about 2 miles from downtown Gainesville and is known for its cluster of historic buildings. Century Tower, a more-than-150-foot-tall Gothic carillon, stands out both for its height and frequent clanging of the "Florida Chimes" bell tune. On the campus’s western edge, the Florida Museum of Natural History tells the state's history with more than 500 fossils and Native American artifacts. While you’re there, take a stroll through the museum's Butterfly Rainforest, where hundreds of butterfly species from around the world live among lush, tropical trees and cascading waterfalls.