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10 Best Photo-Ops Near the University of Florida

By Mackenzie

Being a college town, Gainesville, Florida, is filled with fun, trendy things to do. On the weekends, students will visit the nearby springs, go to the pool or even take day trips to Orlando. Another popular, local activity to do is to find cute places to take your next aesthetically pleasing Instagram photo!

As a senior at UF, I still manage to find new places to take pictures here. That’s why I have compiled this list of the top 10 most Instagrammable places in Gainesville.

Best Instagram Worthy Photo Ops Near UF

1. Paynes Prairie

Paynes Prairie

Paynes Prairie is located on 13th St. Photo courtesy of WUFT.

Address: Paynes Prairie Lookout 441

As the most popular place to take sunset pictures, Paynes Prairie is a must-see for students! The lookout, located directly off of Highway 441, is the perfect place to take golden hour pictures with friends while listening to your favorite songs. On a nice day, you’ll never see this lookout point empty.

2. Lake Wauburg

Lake Wauburg

Lake Wauburg is a lake owned by UF that is exclusively available for UF students, faculty and staff. Photo courtesy of Flickr.

Address: 133 Regatta Dr.

Lake Wauburg is a UF-owned private park for UF students, faculty and staff. The park is filled with photo-ops, especially when test riding the paddle boats and stand up paddle boards. The lake also has a man-made beach with sand and beach chairs, making for the perfect set up of a Florida beach picture! While it might not be the whitest sand and the prettiest water, it is still a great place to snap a picture and make all of your friends in the north jealous.

3. Butterfly Rainforest at the Florida Museum of Natural History

Butterfly Rainforest

The Butterfly Rainforest is located on Hull Rd. Photo courtesy of Land8.

Address: 3215 Hull Rd.

Exhibits filled with tropical trees and colorful flowers make the Butterfly Rainforest the perfect place to take a scenic picture in Gainesville. At the exhibit, butterflies fly all around and their beautiful wings add even more pops of color to your pictures. If you’re trying to take a picture with butterflies landing on you, the museum provides fruit to feed them, which draws them to your hand.

Read Next: Top 6 Local Coffee Shops near UF

4. Kanapaha Botanical Gardens

Kanapaha Botanical Gardens

Kanapaha Botanical Gardens is located on SW 58th Dr. Photo courtesy of

Address: 4700 SW 58th Dr.

Taking the 1.5-mile walking path, visitors can view 24 collections of botanical gardens. This scenery of beautifully landscaped flowers and leafy plants makes for the ultimate background for an Instagram picture. Be sure to have your camera out the whole time you’re here because every step, there’s a new photo-op in every direction.

5. Depot Park

Depot Park

Depot Park is located on SE 4th St. Photo courtesy of Depot Park.

Address: 874 SE 4th St.

Whether you’re going for a picnic at sunset or a walk with friends, Depot Park’s green spaces are filled with picture opportunities. The park is a popular place for students to study, hang out and celebrate birthdays. Pictures here could be taken in athleisure, nicer outfits, and everything in between. The park also has an outdoor bar, called Boxcar, with a patio and picnic tables, making for even more photo-ops.

6. “Heavy Metal Gator” Mural

Heavy Metal Gator Mural

“Heavy Metal Gator” Mural located on SW 1st Ave. Photo courtesy of Pinterest.

Address: 18 SW 1st Ave.

This unique mural depicts a chromatic 3D gator on a bright yellow background. The mural, located in downtown Gainesville, was painted by muralist, Bik Ismo, in 2018. Ismo was inspired by the University of Florida’s mascot, Albert the alligator, when he chose to paint this striking piece. Pictures in front of this piece are often taken either on the left or right sides so that the gator isn’t blocked from the camera.

7. Superette Wine + Provisions

Heavy Metal Gator Mural

Superette Wine + Provisions located on NW 2nd St. Photo courtesy of

Address: 1511 NW 2nd St.

Superette is a winery relatively new to Gainesville and has a large patio with plenty of seating options. The inside portion of the space is very aesthetically pleasing. The winery uses various styles of plates and cups, each with different floral designs that mimic vintage plates. The outside portion of the space has picnic tables, regular tables and booths. All of the seating options are perfectly cute for Instagram pictures, especially if you order a charcuterie board and Sangria!

8. “Windup Toy Gator” Mural at Butler Plaza

Gator Mural At Butler Plaza

“Windup Toy Gator” Mural located in Butler Plaza. Photo courtesy of WUFT.

Address: 3202 SW 35th Blvd.

Located just past Jeremiah’s Italian Ice, this quirky mural is a great place to take your next Instagram picture. This bright, fun mural depicts a windup toy gator on a purple background. Obviously, a gator is an important symbol in Gainesville, and posting a picture in front of this mural is a great way to show your school pride!

9. Gator Walk

Gator Walk

Gator Walk located on Gale Lemerand Dr. Photo courtesy of Flickr.

Address: 157 Gale Lemerand Dr.

Gator Walk is a famous spot on campus located directly next to the football stadium. If you take your picture at just the right angle, you can see the sign for the football stadium and the palm trees that line  the pathway. This location is a popular graduation photo spot, so if you try to go during March or April, expect it to be busy. The best time to take pictures for the right lighting in this area is 4-5 p.m.

10. Arcade Bar (a.k.a. Barcade)

Barcade arcade games

Barcade located on University Ave. Photo courtesy of

Address: 6 E University Ave.

Arcade Bar, popularly known as Barcade, is a funky, newly renovated bar in downtown Gainesville. As you can probably guess from the name, the first section of the bar is filled with old-fashioned arcade games, including Pac-Man, pinball and skee-ball. The bar is dimly lit, but it makes for a great place to take fun arcade pictures. The outside section of the bar has neon lights and leafy plants, making for another great photo op at the bar.

Read Next: 5 Best Student Apartments near the University of Florida

As you can see, Gainesville is filled with Instagrammable places. Being in Florida, many photo-ops are outside, which is great because the lighting is always top-notch. Just remember to bring a water bottle and sunglasses!

If you’d like to learn more about Sweetwater or student living near the University of Florida, contact our leasing staff, who would love to help you with any questions you may have.


Mackenzie is a Community Assistant at Sweetwater. She is sophomore at UF majoring in Pre Law. Her favorite Daydreamer drink is an iced white mocha.

July 08, 2022

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