Cushman-Coulson House at Sweetwater Branch Inn-f20ead8ea27e8cdee2580e4034c6fb2425f320fb
The Cushman-Coulson House at Sweetwater Branch Inn | Photo courtesy of owners

Gainesville’s beloved Bed and Breakfast District is located in the historic Southeast neighborhood of the city. This charming neighborhood is just a short walk from Downtown Gainesville, where you’ll find shops, restaurants, and a lively nightlife scene. Plus, the Bed and Breakfast District is close to the University of Florida, making it a great home base for out of towners and residents alike.

In this guide, we’ll give you an overview of the Bed and Breakfast District, including its history, amenities, and real estate market. Keep reading to learn more about this one-of-a-kind neighborhood in Gainesville’s historic core!

Welcome to the Bed and Breakfast District!

Located less than 2 miles east of the University of Florida's flagship campus, the Bed and Breakfast District is a quiet, residential neighborhood in downtown Gainesville. The neighborhood is full of beautiful Victorian homes, some of which have been converted into bed and breakfasts, each with its own unique style and personality.

Visitors to Gainesville who want the traditional B&B experience have their choice of the Laurel Oak Inn, the Camellia Rose, Magnolia Plantation Bed & Breakfast Inn and Cottages, and Sweetwater Branch Inn Bed & Breakfast. These restored Victorian mansions were built in the late 1800s in a variety of styles, from Queen Anne to Second French Empire, and are lovingly maintained to historic standards.

Preserving Downtown Gainesville's Historic Character

When Cindy and Joe purchased the Baird Mansion in 1990, hippies and college students (including a young Tom Petty) had lived in it for 30 years. Most of the Victorians had been carved up into multi-family apartments and were in disrepair. "It was more like Animal House than a Victorian mansion," Cindy and Joe write on their website. Undaunted, the couple rolled up their sleeves and restored the 1885 French Second Empire Victorian mansion to Magnolia Plantation, and opened to guests a year later.

The Magnolia Room
A peek inside the Magnolia Room at the Magnolia Plantation, which kicked off Gainesville's traditional B&B Renaissance in the 1990s | Photo courtesy of owners

The Camellia Rose is the new kid on the block. When Pat and Tom McCants opened their restored home to guests in 2007, they joined three other B&Bs to cap off the boomlet that has helped restore the Southeast Historic District to its former distinction. Each restoration was a labor of love for its owners. Today, the entire Southeast Historic District benefits from the presence of these elegant guest homes.

The four traditional B&Bs that comprise the district are mostly clustered between SE 7th Street and SE 2nd Ave, with the Sweetwater Branch Inn, opened in 1993, around the corner on University Avenue. Weekends when the Gators are playing over at Ben Griffin stadium (known affectionately by locals as "The Swamp") and graduations are the busiest times for bookings.

Sweetwater Branch Inn, pictured below, provides boutique lodging and events, with 28 rooms and suites in two Victorian homes and eight restored cottages, on approximately 2 acres of curated grounds and gardens. Amenities include a heated saltwater pool, complimentary bike rental, and breakfast served daily. 

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The McKenzie House at Sweetwater Branch Inn | Photo courtesy of owners

Thinking of Buying a Home in Gainesville?

Charles Ely at Sweetwater Branch Inn points out that B&Bs are a great resource for out of towners who are house shopping as well, "to get a homier version of Gainesville!" We couldn't agree more.

If you're thinking about buying a home in Gainesville, the Bed and Breakfast District and the neighboring Duckpond are great neighborhoods to consider.

These quiet, historic neighborhoods are just a short walk to thriving downtown Gainesville. A night out could include dinner at Dragonfly Sushi, a show at the Hippodrome Theatre, and a visit to Wyatt's Cafe, one of our favorite coffee shops in Gainesville.

Interior of home for sale in Gainesville's Southeast Historic District
Homes for sale in historic Gainesville typically pair original hardwood floors and period fire places with modern amenities like Central HVAC | Photo via Stellar MLS

Other neighborhood amenities within walking distance are Depot Park, a great picnic spot anchored by the Cade Museum for Creativity and Invention, and Bo Diddley Plaza, which hosts free outdoor concerts and free yoga throughout the year.

Homes for sale in the area run the gamut from ornate Victorian mansions to colonial-era cottages closer to Depot Park and in the nearby Pleasant Street Historic District. See below for the latest listings, or inquire with Rabell Realty Group about homes for sale in nearby areas.