A Travel Price Comparison for Florida Gainesville vs. Jacksonville for Attractions, Food, Nightlife, and Families

Should you visit Gainesville or Jacksonville?

Which is cheaper to visit? Which is more expensive for vacation?

If you're trying to decide where to visit between Gainesville or Jacksonville, this travel comparison, which includes costs, can help. The overall cost of travel is usually a consideration when deciding where to go next, and the cost comparison down below can help you decide based on the average prices from other travelers along with your own travel budget.

Gainesville

Gainesville is a high energy, active, and vibrant city. It's also popular because of the food, shopping, and museums.

Jacksonville

Jacksonville is a under-rated, lively, and youthful city. Since it's a large city, you'll find plenty of things to do. It's also known for museums, nightlife, and food.

Gainesville and Jacksonville: Pros and Cons

Pros
  • Popular museums and historical sights
  • Active nightlife
  • Family-friendly
  • Good for couples and romance
Things to Consider
  • Less popular with backpackers
Pros
  • Popular museums and historical sights
  • Active nightlife
  • Popular beach
  • Family-friendly
  • Good for couples and romance
  • Good for backpackers and budget travelers


Is there more to do in Gainesville or Jacksonville?

You'll generally find more things to do in Jacksonville than Gainesville. Jacksonville is bigger than Gainesville, and it also has more attractions and activities for travelers. Jacksonville is more touristy than Gainesville and is popular for its beautiful beaches and lively downtown area. Also, Jacksonville is famous for Cummer Museum of Art and Gardens. Gainesville is well known for being the home of the University of Florida

How is Gainesville different from Jacksonville?

Which is Better for a Holiday?

Let's take a look at the differences and similarities between Jacksonville and Gainesville. Then, you can decide for yourself which place is better for your next trip.

Are the Museums and Historical Sights Better in Gainesville or Jacksonville?

Gainesville
Jacksonville

Both Gainesville and Jacksonville have great landmarks and museums for visitors.

With a variety of museums, monuments, and historical sights, a trip to Gainesville can be an interesting and educational experience. There's a surprising number of museums around town such as the Florida Museum of Natural History, the Samuel P. Harn Museum of Art, and the Cade Museum for Creativity and Invention. Also fascinating is the Historic Haile Homestead, the Butterfly Rainforest, and the city's planetarium.

You'll find a good number of museums and monuments packed into Jacksonville. The city has a number of museums that range from art museums to science or kid-friendly museums. Some favorites are the Museum of Science and History, the Museum of Contemporary Art, the Mandarin Museum and Historical Society, and Kingsley Plantation.


Is the Food Better in Gainesville or Jacksonville? Which Destination has the Best Restaurants?

Gainesville
Jacksonville

Jacksonville is notable for its local cuisine and restaurants. Also, Gainesville is not as famous, but is still a good city to visit for its restaurants.

With its innovative style combined with traditional elements, Jacksonville makes for a great culinary experience. Local cuisine has its own identity. Unique dishes around town include garlic crabs, seafood boil, gumbo, and shrimp and grits. The local cuisine is similar to Lowcountry dishes with a lot of Cajun influence. If you want something different from seafood, you should try the barbecue.

Gainesville has a delicious restaurant scene that relies on local flavors. Casual eateries are popular around town, particularly with the student population. There are grills, diners, and bistros that serve local dishes at affordable prices.

Is Gainesville or Jacksonville Better for Nightlife?

Gainesville
Jacksonville

Evening events are great in both Gainesville and Jacksonville.

Gainesville has plenty to do after the sun goes down. The nightlife centers around the student population. The two main party areas are Midtown and Downtown. Midtown is between Northwest 17th Street and Northwest 18th Street and it's convenient for students who live on campus. The area has a great stretch of bars and clubs. The Downtown area has many of the city's top clubs, and it's popular with upperclassmen and students who live off campus.

Jacksonville has a lively atmosphere and nightlife is popular here. The young population brings out the nightlife scene. There's a great concentration of bars and clubs in the area known as The Elbow, which is at the intersection of N. Ocean and E. Bay Street. You'll find plenty of cocktail bars, lounges, and clubs around town that make for a fun night out.

Is Gainesville or Jacksonville Better for Beaches?

Gainesville
Jacksonville

Jacksonville is notable for its beaches. However, Gainesville is not a beach destination.

You'll have a great beach vacation in Jacksonville. There are a number of beaches that are just a short distance from the city. Some have a historic vibe while others are more lively. Atlantic Beach is about a half hour drive from the city. For a laid back vibe head to Neptune Beach and the most popular beach in the area is Jacksonville Beach.

Gainesville is not a beach destination.


Is the Shopping Better in Gainesville or Jacksonville?

Gainesville
Jacksonville

Jacksonville is notable for shopping. Also, Gainesville is not as famous, but is still a good city to visit for its shopping opportunities.

Jacksonville is an extremely popular place for shoppers. There are countless malls and shopping districts around town. Some of the best shopping is found at St. John's Center, Five Points, and Avondale.

Shopping is a popular activity when visiting Gainesville. You'll find all of the standard shopping options around town such as malls, shopping centers, and retail outlets. Two popular areas are the Neighborhoods at Butler and Celebration Pointe.

Is Gainesville or Jacksonville Better for Families?

Gainesville
Jacksonville

Gainesville and Jacksonville are both notable destinations for the whole family.

Gainesville is a family-friendly place to visit. You'll find outdoor activities, nature parks, and a couple of museums that will appeal to all ages. Highlights for families include A. Quinn Jones Museum and Cultural Center, the Adventure Outpost, and Alfred A. Ring Park.

Jacksonville is a family-friendly city. It's filled with adventure parks, zoos, animal farms, nature centers, and gardens. Adults will have as much fun as kids exploring the city and all of its family-friendly attractions.

Is Gainesville or Jacksonville Better for Couples?

Gainesville
Jacksonville

Gainesville and Jacksonville are both notable to visit as a couple.

Gainesville is a nice destination for couples. Couples can enjoy wine tasting and fine dining or enjoying the city's many outdoor activities. Go on a picnic or explore one of the museums in Downtown Gainesville.

Jacksonville makes for a fun place to visit for a couple. It's a young city that's near nature and has plenty of adventurous activities. There's sailing, botanical gardens, restaurants, and plenty of bars around town.


Is Gainesville or Jacksonville Better for Backpackers and Budget Travelers?

Gainesville
Jacksonville

Jacksonville is a nice place to visit for backpackers. However, Gainesville is a mediocre city for backpackers and budget travelers.

It's common for backpackers to visit Jacksonville. There are a few hostels in town as well as affordable motels. The city has a young population with plenty to do. Although it's often overlooked by tourists, there's a surprising and underrated appeal to the backpacker crowd.

Gainesville is a challenging destination for budget travelers and backpackers due to the higher prices. It's not high on the list for many travelers, but there are some cheap motels where budget travelers can stay.

Is Gainesville or Jacksonville Better for Students?

Gainesville
Jacksonville

Gainesville is an excellent place to visit for its student-friendly activities. Also, Jacksonville is not quite as popular, but is fairly good for students.

Many students visit Gainesville. As the location of the University of Florida, you'll find many students around town. This keeps the energy high with plenty of evening activities and affordable entertainment options.

Jacksonville is popular with students. There are a few colleges and universities in town. The city's population is also very young, making it a great place to study.

Is Gainesville or Jacksonville Better for Public Transit? Which Is Easier to Get Around Without a Car?

Gainesville
Jacksonville

Both Gainesville and Jacksonville offer notable public transit options.

Gainesville has a few public transit options. There's a decent bus system that's free to students and employees of the university.

Jacksonville has some public transit options. The public transportation system includes trolleys, the Skyway, buses, water taxis, and the ferry.


Is Gainesville or Jacksonville a more walkable city?

Gainesville
Jacksonville

Gainesville and Jacksonville both are notable when exploring on foot.

Gainesville is somewhat walkable. Biking is actually a popular way to get around town and some areas are pedestrian-friendly.

Jacksonville is a somewhat walkable place. Downtown Jacksonville is the most walkable part of the city.

For even more information, also check out Is Gainesville Worth Visiting? and Is Jacksonville Worth Visiting?.

Should I spend more time in Jacksonville or Gainesville?

How long in Gainesville or Jacksonville?

Visitors can find plenty of fun things to do in both Gainesville and Jacksonville. With generally more activities and things to do, visitors tend to spend more time in Jacksonville than in Gainesville. Usually, 1-2 days is a good amount of time for Gainesville, and 2-3 days is enough time in Jacksonville.

Families should spend more time in Jacksonville than Gainesville. Because of the many family-friendly attractions and fun things to do for kids in Jacksonville, it's a great place to visit with the whole family.

Couples should spend more time in Jacksonville than Gainesville. You'll find plenty of romantic sights and fun activities in Jacksonville that are perfect for a weekend getaway or a longer couple's trip.

Backpackers and budget travelers should spend more time in Jacksonville than Gainesville if your budget allows for it. With a larger number of budget-friendly sights, good nightlife, and active things to do, anyone traveling on a budget would have a good time in Jacksonville.


  • How many days in Gainesville or Jacksonville? Ideal Length of Stay
    Gainesville 1-2 
    Jacksonville 2-3

One day in Gainesville or Jacksonville?

In Gainesville, many people enjoy the food and shopping that this high energy city offers. The length of your ideal trip is an individual decision. In one day, you should have a good grasp of this city.

Visitors enjoy the nightlife and food when visiting the youthful city of Jacksonville. It's also a great beach destination, too. One day is usually not enough time for a trip here as there is plenty to do. The entire region has so many activities, and you'll want time to do everything.

A weekend in Gainesville or Jacksonville?

Gainesville is a fun place to experience. If you have a weekend, this is a great place to go. It will give you the chance to have new experiences. So, a weekend is just the right amount of time to spend here.

Visitors enjoy the food and shopping when visiting the under-rated destination of Jacksonville. It's a great spot for a beach vacation. This city offers something for everyone. Plenty of people spend a weekend in the area when traveling. If you enjoy all that's offered here, then a weekend is just the right amount of time to spend here.


Five days in Gainesville or Jacksonville?

You'll find museums and nightlife around the vibrant destination of Gainesville. Take your pick from the many activities offered here. Five days is more than enough time to enjoy everything. Take some day trips to nearby places to fill the extra days.

The under-rated city of Jacksonville offers shopping and museums. You'll find plenty of activities on the beach. Five days may feel like too much time unless you plan to do a lot of relaxing. The length of your trip often depends on your style of travel.

A week in Gainesville or Jacksonville?

Gainesville is a popular place to visit. One week may feel like too much time unless you plan to do a lot of relaxing. The entire region has so many activities, and you'll want time to do everything.

Many people enjoy the museums and nightlife when visiting Jacksonville. Anyone can find something fun to do here. Most people come for the beaches. Most people find that one week is more than enough time to see everything.


Which place is cheaper, Jacksonville or Gainesville?

These are the overall average travel costs for the two destinations.

The average daily cost (per person) in Gainesville is $221, while the average daily cost in Jacksonville is $220. These costs include accommodation (assuming double occupancy, so the traveler is sharing the room), food, transportation, and entertainment. While every person is different, these costs are an average of past travelers in each destination. What follows is a categorical breakdown of travel costs for Gainesville and Jacksonville in more detail.



Accommodation
  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    Gainesville $119
    Jacksonville $92
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    Gainesville $238
    Jacksonville $184
Compare Hotels in Gainesville and Jacksonville

Looking for a hotel in Gainesville or Jacksonville? Prices vary by location, date, season, and the level of luxury. See below for options and compare which is best for your budget and travel style.

Hotels in Gainesville


Hotels in Jacksonville


Kayak helps you find the best prices for hotels, flights, and rental cars for destinations around the world. Compare prices for multiple destinations when planning your next trip.


Our Analysis
We've analyzed the average and typical hotel prices based on guest reviews, star ratings, and hotel amenities here: Gainesville Hotel Prices and Jacksonville Hotel Prices.

Local Transportation
  • Local Transportation Taxis, local buses, subway, etc.
    Gainesville $40
    Jacksonville $53

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Jacksonville

Also for Jacksonville, here are a few examples of actual transportation services:

  • Private Transfer from Carnival Port to Jacksonville Airport (JAX): $55
  • Carnival Cruise Port to Jacksonville Airport (JAX) - Departure Private Transfer: $55
  • Jacksonville Airport (JAX) to Jacksonville Cruise Port -Arrival Private Transfer: $55
  • Jacksonville Airport JAX to Carnival Cruise Port-Arrival Transfer: $55
  • Jacksonville Airport (JAX) to Jacksonville City - Arrival Private Transfer: $62
  • Carnival Cruise Port Jacksonville to Jacksonville, FL - Arrival Private Transfer: $64
  • Carnival Cruise Port Jacksonville to City - Arrival Transfer: $64
  • Jacksonville Airport (JAX) to Jacksonville Port - Round-Trip Private Transfer: $110
  • Jacksonville Airport (JAX) to Jacksonville City - Round-Trip Private Transfer: $123
  • Carnival Cruise Port Jacksonville to Jacksonville - Round-Trip Private Transfer: $128
  • Marriott Jacksonville Downtown Transfer to JAX: $134
  • JAX Airport Transfer to Hyatt Regency Jacksonville Riverfront: $147

Is it cheaper to fly into Gainesville or Jacksonville?

Prices for flights to both Jacksonville and Gainesville change regularly based on dates and travel demand. We suggest you find the best prices for your next trip on Kayak, because you can compare the cost of flights across multiple airlines for your prefered dates.





Food
  • Food Meals for one day
    Gainesville $70
    Jacksonville $96
Typical Food Prices in Gainesville

Some typical examples of dining costs in Gainesville are as follows:


  • Diner Breakfast for Two
    $17
  • Lunch at Chop Stix (for 2)
    $24

Food Tours and Cooking Classes in Jacksonville

For Jacksonville, here are some samples of tours and activities related to meals and dining experiences:

  • 1 Hour of Chocolate Pizza Making Class in Jacksonville: $18
  • Small Group Walking Food Tour in Jacksonville with Lunch Included: $120

Entertainment
  • Entertainment Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
    Gainesville $44
    Jacksonville $20
Typical Entertainment Prices in Gainesville

Some typical examples of activities, tours, and entrance ticket prices in Gainesville are as follows:


  • Manatee Tour for Two
    $98
  • Tour Guide Tip
    $5.00

Tours and Activities in Gainesville

Some specific costs of activities, tours, and entrance tickets for Gainesville are as follows:

  • Butterfly Rainforest at Florida Museum of Natural History Ticket: $15
  • Private Snorkeling Tour in Florida Springs: $250
  • Unique Scavenger Hunt Experience in Gainesville by Operation City Quest: $10

Tours and Activities in Jacksonville

For Jacksonville, here are a few prices for actual activities, tours, and tickets provided by various companies:

  • 20 Minutes Chocolate & Candy Factory Tour in Jacksonville: $6.00
  • Murray Hill Walking Mural Tour: $25
  • Downtown Fernandina Historical Walking Tour: $30
  • Jacksonville Ghosts and Ghouls Tour By US Ghost Adventures: $30
  • Amelia Island Area Kayak Rental on Lofton Creek with Adventures Up The Creek: $36
  • The Escape Game Epic 60-Minute Adventures: $41
  • 1-Hour Escape Room Adventure: $41
  • Self-Guided Kayaking: Real Florida Adventure: $45
  • Eight Flags Road Tour: $50
  • Guided Kayak Eco Tour: Real Florida Adventure: $55
  • Amelia Island Guided Kayak Tour of Lofton Creek : $60
  • Electric Bike Art and Architecture Guided Tour in Jacksonville : $60

Alcohol
  • Alcohol Drinks for one day
    Gainesville $49
    Jacksonville $20

Sample the Local Flavors in Jacksonville

Here are a few nightlife and alcohol tours and activities from local tour providers in Jacksonville:

  • Jacksonville Ghosts Boos and Booze Haunted Pub Crawl: $35


When comparing the travel costs between Gainesville and Jacksonville, we can see that Gainesville is more expensive. However, the two cities are actually relatively comparable in price, as the difference is somewhat minimal. Generally, this means that you could travel with generally the same travel style and level of luxury in each place. Since both cities are in North America, it's no surprise that their costs are relatively close, as many destinations here have somewhat similar travel prices overall.

If you're trying to decide if either of these two destinations are within your price range, also see Is Gainesville Expensive? and Is Jacksonville Expensive?.


Which is Bigger, Gainesville or Jacksonville?

Jacksonville has a larger population, and is about 6 times larger than the population of Gainesville. When comparing the sizes of Gainesville and Jacksonville, keep in mind that a larger population does not always imply the destination has more attractions or better activities. So, always research the type of place that you want to visit along with the activities and attractions that interest you.


When is the best time to visit Gainesville or Jacksonville?

Both places have a temperate climate with four distinct seasons. As both cities are in the northern hemisphere, summer is in July and winter is in January.

Should I visit Gainesville or Jacksonville in the Summer?

Both Jacksonville and Gainesville during the summer are popular places to visit. Many travelers come to Gainesville for the family-friendly experiences. Also, many visitors come to Jacksonville in the summer for the beaches, the city activities, and the family-friendly experiences.

In July, Gainesville is generally around the same temperature as Jacksonville. Daily temperatures in Gainesville average around 81°F (27°C), and Jacksonville fluctuates around 82°F (28°C).

Jacksonville gets a good bit of rain this time of year. It rains a lot this time of the year in Gainesville. Gainesville usually gets more rain in July than Jacksonville. Gainesville gets 6.8 inches (174 mm) of rain, while Jacksonville receives 5.4 inches (137 mm) of rain this time of the year.


  • Summer Average Temperatures July
    Gainesville 81°F (27°C) 
    Jacksonville 82°F (28°C)

Should I visit Gainesville or Jacksonville in the Autumn?

The autumn attracts plenty of travelers to both Gainesville and Jacksonville. Many visitors come to Gainesville in the autumn for the shopping scene. Also, most visitors come to Jacksonville for the city's sights and attractions and the shopping scene during these months.

Gainesville is around the same temperature as Jacksonville in the autumn. The daily temperature in Gainesville averages around 71°F (22°C) in October, and Jacksonville fluctuates around 70°F (21°C).

In October, Gainesville usually receives less rain than Jacksonville. Gainesville gets 2 inches (51 mm) of rain, while Jacksonville receives 2.9 inches (73 mm) of rain each month for the autumn. The hurricane season in Gainesville is June to November. The hurricane season in Jacksonville is June to November.


  • Autumn Average Temperatures October
    Gainesville 71°F (22°C) 
    Jacksonville 70°F (21°C)

Should I visit Gainesville or Jacksonville in the Winter?

The winter brings many poeple to Gainesville as well as Jacksonville. Most visitors come to Gainesville for the museums, the shopping scene, and the cuisine during these months. Also, the winter months attract visitors to Jacksonville because of the museums, the shopping scene, and the cuisine.

In the winter, Gainesville is around the same temperature as Jacksonville. Typically, the winter temperatures in Gainesville in January average around 54°F (12°C), and Jacksonville averages at about 53°F (12°C).

Gainesville usually gets less rain in January than Jacksonville. Gainesville gets 2.9 inches (75 mm) of rain, while Jacksonville receives 3.3 inches (83 mm) of rain this time of the year.


  • Winter Average Temperatures January
    Gainesville 54°F (12°C) 
    Jacksonville 53°F (12°C)

Should I visit Gainesville or Jacksonville in the Spring?

Both Jacksonville and Gainesville are popular destinations to visit in the spring with plenty of activities. Also, the beaches and the activities around the city are the main draw to Jacksonville this time of year.

In April, Gainesville is generally around the same temperature as Jacksonville. Daily temperatures in Gainesville average around 69°F (20°C), and Jacksonville fluctuates around 68°F (20°C).

In April, Gainesville usually receives less rain than Jacksonville. Gainesville gets 2 inches (50 mm) of rain, while Jacksonville receives 2.8 inches (72 mm) of rain each month for the spring. June to November is the hurricane season in Gainesville. June to November is the hurricane season in Jacksonville.


  • Spring Average Temperatures April
    Gainesville 69°F (20°C) 
    Jacksonville 68°F (20°C)

Typical Weather for Jacksonville and Gainesville

Gainesville Jacksonville
Temp (°C) Rain (mm) Temp (°C) Rain (mm)
Jan 54°F (12°C) 2.9 inches (75 mm) 53°F (12°C) 3.3 inches (83 mm)
Feb 57°F (14°C) 4.5 inches (115 mm) 56°F (13°C) 3.9 inches (100 mm)
Mar 63°F (17°C) 3.3 inches (83 mm) 62°F (17°C) 3.7 inches (93 mm)
Apr 69°F (20°C) 2 inches (50 mm) 68°F (20°C) 2.8 inches (72 mm)
May 75°F (24°C) 3.1 inches (79 mm) 74°F (24°C) 3.7 inches (93 mm)
Jun 80°F (26°C) 6.8 inches (174 mm) 80°F (27°C) 5.7 inches (146 mm)
Jul 81°F (27°C) 6.8 inches (174 mm) 82°F (28°C) 5.4 inches (137 mm)
Aug 81°F (27°C) 8.3 inches (211 mm) 82°F (28°C) 7.8 inches (199 mm)
Sep 78°F (26°C) 5.5 inches (139 mm) 79°F (26°C) 7.1 inches (180 mm)
Oct 71°F (22°C) 2 inches (51 mm) 70°F (21°C) 2.9 inches (73 mm)
Nov 63°F (17°C) 2.4 inches (61 mm) 62°F (17°C) 2.2 inches (55 mm)
Dec 56°F (14°C) 2.9 inches (74 mm) 56°F (13°C) 2.7 inches (69 mm)