Central Park, the Gainesville Way

New York City has Central Park. Chicago has Millennium Park. Washington, D.C., has the National Mall. All cities need an open area for people to gather, spend time with family, and enjoy the outdoors, and Gainesville is no different. So after almost 20 years of planning, in 2016, Gainesville opened Depot Park.

Depot Park is located in the heart of downtown Gainesville. The area was once the site of various industrial operations such as railroads, gas stations and petroleum tank farms. In 2000, a plan was developed to remove contaminated soil left from the industrial site by designing Depot Park to also act as stormwater treatment system.

What once was the site of a rail yard and brownfield site is now the home of beautiful greenspace and recreational park.

Depot Park offers many attractions for local residents including parents who want to take their children somewhere safe to play outside, couples looking for a romantic picnic, or joggers and bicyclists who want a place to get in some exercise and not worry about traffic.


The children’s play area at Depot Park offers a playground full of swing sets and slides. A few steps away from the playground is the Blue Grotto, a play area with waterfalls, ground jets, and a water cannons. Both the playground and Blue Grotto are free and open from dawn to dusk.


For those looking to take a leisurely walk, Depot Park’s Promenade features a 20 inch wide paved sidewalk that surrounds the park’s main pond. Visitors can enjoy nice strolls around the pond or sit down and relax on one of the surrounding benches. During the year, Depot Park hosts various events like food truck rallies and art festivals on the Promenade giving visitors different things to do and see.

The Hill at Depot Park provides a nice greenspace where visitors can bring blankets and umbrellas to lay on the hill and enjoy live concerts and events. At the top of The Hill is even more open space with green grass where visitors can lay out to enjoy the scenery or have picnics with family and friends.

For visitors who want to have a little space to themselves for parties or get-togethers, the Park’s main pavilion is filled with tables, chairs and grills. Visitors can rent out the pavilion to host cookouts, birthday parties, or reunions on the Depot Park website.


The south end of the park features a conservation area filled with wildlife, wetlands, and various greenery.

Park visitors can walk through this natural environment to enjoy a nice stroll through nature and  sign up for nature tours.

All of activities at the park can undoubtedly cause an empty stomach and a little hunger. If you don’t have  supplies for a picnic or cookout, visitors can stop by the Pop-A-Top store to the right of the park for food, drinks, and other items you might need to enjoy the park like sunscreen or a kite. And for adults who want to unwind, The Box Car Wine and Beer Garden offers live music and drinks.

The park not only provides a good time but also educational experiences. Depot Park helps make visitors aware of bicycle safety through its Share the Road Memorial  to increase bicycle safety awareness and education.

Coming soon to Depot Park is the Cade Museum. The museum is set to open to the public in spring of 2018 and  will feature exhibits and labs for visitors to experience the history of invention. People will have the opportunity to participate in programs and classes that teach the history of past inventions and how people can become inventors themselves through creativity and forward thinking.

Also coming to Depot Park is Gainesville’s first Amphitheatre with 2,500 seats. The proposed site of the Amphitheatre is the Southeast 10th parking lot of Depot Park.

Gainesville might not be a big city like New York, Chicago, or Washington, D.C., but Depot Park  offers something to do for everyone like any of the parks found in any of those big cities. Only this one is just ours.