Easy to miss. Hard to find. Sweetwater Wetlands Park is a hidden gem in Gainesville, Florida. Just off SW Williston Road, this man-made wetlands park encompasses over 125 acres and its trails form the shape of an alligator head. The park is also popular for its Wednesday Bird Walks and free ranger-led tours.
I call this park a hidden gem because many of my friends have gotten lost attempting to find it. If you would rather leave the park hunting up to others, I have created a brief visual tour of what to expect when visiting Sweetwater Wetlands Park.
Drive down SW Williston Road and keep your eye out for the park sign.
There is a $2 entrance fee for pedestrians and bikers, and a $5 entrance fee for cars.
Check out the daily list of wildlife sightings on your way into the park.
Over 215 species of birds have been spotted in the park.
Take the gravel path that leads to an asphalt crosswalk.
Roam on the boardwalk.
Bring your binoculars and long-lens cameras because there is no shortage of animals to see.
This park has animals that beacon, buzz and chomp, of course.
Follow the winding boardwalks and gravel trails back to the asphalt pavement. Look for the crosswalk to exit the park.
When Should You Visit?
Visit the Sweetwater Preserve Wetlands Park anytime. This year-round park is the perfect place to relax and immerse yourself in nature. In my opinion, the ideal time to visit is right around sunrise or sunset. The park opens at 7 a.m. and closes at dusk every day.
Difficulty of Exploration: 2/10
Items Required: transportation to park, cash for entrance fee and (optional) a camera or binoculars
Travel Time from Gainesville: Approximately a 5-minute drive, or 1-hour walk, from UF’s campus [dependent on traffic and mode of transportation]
Contentment Level Post-Trip: 10/10