By Ilona Kauremszky

Q: We'll be travelling to Gainesville, Florida in the month of December. Can you provide any info on holiday events, fishing, boating and beaches. Any suggestions are appreciated.

A: What landlocked Florida city was voted best place to live in 1995? According to Money Magazine it was Gainesville.

Home of the Florida Gators and some of the most pristine fresh-water springs in the country, this part of northern Florida is generally seasonably mild all year, making it a great stomping ground for outdoor enthusiasts.

Since there are 40 nature parks within 50 miles of Gainesville to picnic, swim, hike, camp or do some boating or fishing, you'll really never run out of things to do and see.

The Gainesville Parks and Recreation Department alone maintains 30 parks and plans a year-round schedule of recreational activities for all ages. Area anglers have six fresh water lakes from which to choose. The department reports all six offer boat ramps with two providing accommodations and campsites.

The state of Florida requires that powerboats be registered. If you plan on fishing, a license is required for either fresh water or saltwater fishing. There's Blue Springs Park and Anastasia State Park, perfect for fishing and swimming.

Part of the appeal of Gainesville and Alachua County is the quaint North Florida towns surrounding Gainesville. On December 8-9, the historic Haile homestead is the setting for a traditional Christmas Crafts & Tour. Watch spinners and weavers in action. For more info, call 352-372-2633. On December 14, Alachua's Christmas Parade will be starting at 1pm.

For other travel-related information on Gainesville, contact the Alachua County Visitors and Convention Bureau. The mailing address is: 30 East University Avenue, Gainesville, FL 32601 or phone 352-374-5231.


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