The Cross Florida Greenway is accessible from I-75 (which it crosses). The Greenway follows the route of the Cross-Florida canal that was started during the Great Depression, then abandoned.
Gainesville itself has the kid-friendly Florida Museum of Natural History. Butterflies, mastodons, Native Americans, gigantic sharks, and much more.
What time of year are you traveling and what is the age of the kids. There are places like GatorLand www.gatorland.com which is a small theme park you can do in 1/2 day. If they are younger kids there is also Green Meadows Petting Zoo which can be fun and is also only about 1/2 day. If the weather is warm there are places like Manatee Springs and such where you can picnic and play. It depends on their age and interests on what you may want to do on the way there.
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