Things to Do in Gainesville

aka, the “Guide to Gainesville”

UF attracts a lot of newcomers to Gainesville and it can be a bit overwhelming to start in a new job and a new city all over again as an adult. Especially for those who relocate as professors, it can take a long time to find your niche in a place because your job is so all-consuming at times that you may still not have tried several of the “must-do” restaurants by the time you’ve been in town a year! (One tip I have is to attend New Faculty Orientation — they are newcomers just like you and it’s a great way to meet your peers who are also seeking a new social life.)

I’ve lived in Gainesville for five years now, and I can still say I really enjoy it. I am often the “Gainesville cheerleader” in my department interviews and I kind of throw out a lot of great tips but it’s a lot of information in a short interview meeting. So I made this page to pass on all the local gems and jewels I have uncovered while here in Gainesville.

Gainesville is what you make of it. You do have to do a little effort to seek out things you want to do, but there is always something going on. In fact, there are many weekends where I feel like I can’t choose between all the awesome events that are happening!

This page is roughly organized by type of thing to do:


Eating

Gainesville has good food:

  • Vegetarian/vegan-friendly: as a pescatarian myself, this was a major concern I had when moving to a smaller town in the South. Actually there are a lot of options for different dietary styles in Gainesville! We have not one but two local tempeh producers in the area (Jose’s and Artie’s), so tempeh makes it on a lot of menus around here. Also, I’ve never had a problem with asking for substitutions or accommodations so far.
    • The Top (downtown) — everyone’s favorite Gainesville icon. Honestly, not my favorite interior decor but the food more than makes up for it. Huge menu that everyone can find something on, and so many options for vegans/vegetarians that it is one of my main go-to’s. Be warned during graduation / football weekends, it’s crazy busy, and most weekends there will be a significant wait. But the wait is always less than they say, and the bar is always open (see: Cocktails, Beer).
    • Boca Fiesta (downtown) — the first place my partner and I ate in Gainesville, so it has a special place in our hearts. Great Mexican-style food: they put their own flair on this, not really tex-mex, not really Baja, but something in between. Tempeh and TVP are both options for vegetarian protein sources.
    • Southern Charm Kitchen (East Gainesville) — Southern soul food that is vegetarian/vegan? Yes, it’s amazing. My personal favorite menu item is actually the smothered catfish (see: pescatarian above), but they have country-fried seitan and tofu on the menu as well. And get their okra. I promise.
    • Reggae Shack (downtown-ish) — owned by the same people who own Southern Charm, this place has amazing Jamaican food. And one of the few places you can actually get spicy food in town! Also highly veg/vegan friendly, with seitan and tofu on the menu.
    • Steamers (downtown) — another place you can actually get super spicy food (ask for it medium one your first visit or you might be sorry!). Located outdoors in Bo-Diddly Plaza downtown, they are a great place for casual dining al fresco. They have hoagies/sandwiches and sort of Indonesian-inspired fried rice and curry dishes; they have tempeh options.
    • Sababa (downtown) — I love love love this place. The couple who owns it is from Israel and they make awesome middle eastern food, but especially for veg/vegans, you’ll love the vegan schnitzel (my favorite!) or the falafel. Get all the salads, they make the meal.
    • Civilization (north of downtown) — very good options for vegan or vegetarian brunch or dinner (see: brunch), I prefer their brunch menu but it’s a reasonably nice gourmet feeling menu. They do weekly “world” menus with items inspired by cuisines from around the globe.
  • Sushi:
    • Dragonfly (downtown) — the slightly-cliche “special occasions” location in Gainesville, it is pretty fun and delicious. Not a typical sushi menu, they are a bit like gourmet sushi tapas. Plus the outside bar is pretty neat. Just don’t expect to get a table on graduation/football weekends.
    • Fuji Sushi (Newberry, W of Gainesville) — my partner met a guy on a plane in his first month in Gainesville who swore this was the best sushi in Gainesville. It is pretty small but well worth the drive to Newberry when you’re feeling like something a little nicer, but not as “unique” as Dragonfly.
    • Ichiban (NW Gainesville, near Thornebrook Plaza) — a good to-do basic sushi within Gainesville. Nice selection. Has fatty tuna (toro).
    • Sushi Matsuri (Archer Rd/Butler Plaza) — also a good go-to basic sushi within Gainesville (near the Butler movie theatre). Doesn’t usually have fatty tuna.
    • Volcanic Sushi (NW Gainesville near Devil’s Millhopper) — a more recent addition to my list, I started going here when I changed gyms to something more on the NW side of town. Nice menu, nice staff, and really quality sushi. They also have a Haile Plantation location (keep going W on Archer Road).
  • Mexican:
    • Boca Fiesta (downtown) — see above.
    • Las Margaritas (NW Gainesville) — a kitschy mid-casual Mexican place in Gainesville that’s a bit on the loud side but has a nice menu, with a “healthier” section and a good vegetarian/seafood selection. Outdoor seating.
    • Blue Agave (NW Gainesville) — another mid-casual Mexican place, they have a “skinny” Margarita on the menu, which I love. Outdoor seating. Higher rated than LM but I like both.
  • Pizza:
    • Big Lou’s (downtown) — best (and only) New York style pizza in town. Since I’m a Jersey transplant, this pizza is actually my favorite in town (shhh don’t tell Satchel). Get it by the slice with customizable toppings (ask for Buffalo tempeh, or get the eggplant parm, mmm), and you’ll probably only need one slice (just like back home!). They have a great lunch special which is 1 slice plus a side salad and two garlic knots, or just 2 slices.
    • Satchel’s (NE Gainesville) — ask anyone what the best pizza is in Gainesville and they’ll probably say Satchel’s. There are Satchel’s bumper stickers all over town! They used to have a terrific collection of salvaged everything (aka, Lightnin’ Salvage) hanging all over their walls but unfortunately that part of the building burned down recently and they had to start all over again. Don’t skip the salad.
    • V Pizza (downtown) — yummy wood-fired pizza made in real brick ovens that were imported from Italy. This is technically a chain, but only in a few locations in FL and I really like their pizza.
    • Blue Highway (Tioga Town Center, W of Gainesville) — a bit of a hike from downtown, but this pizza is pretty good too.
    • For other wood-fired pizza, check out Humble Wood Fire, a local food truck that you can catch here and there, usually out at breweries etc.
  • Brunch:
    • Brunch can be tough in Gainesville: expect long waits and no reservations. But at several places, it’s so worth it!
    • East End Eatery (East Gainesville) — super quaint country interior that’s light and airy inside, with an awesome outdoor patio for seating at tables under umbrellas. They’ve got a great set of benedicts and always a rotating specials list. Get the fresh made scones. Open weekdays and Sunday.
    • 43rd Street Deli (NW Gainesville) — a typical “greasy spoon” kind of diner but with a bit more class. Two locations, the one by I-75 is a little less packed.
    • Civilization (north of downtown) — I prefer their brunch to their dinner. Get the Florida Cakes if you want something really authentic. They also do delicious scones every Sunday.
    • Afternoon (north of downtown) — recent addition to the Pleasant St historic neighborhood. A very cute interior with picnic tables outside. Small menu but everything’s amazing. Right across from Cypress & Grove, you can stick around to grab a beer after! Open every day except Wednesday.
    • Daybreak (north of downtown)  — another recent addition to the Pleasant Street historic neighborhood. Lonnnng waits but so worth it. Modern foodie brunch that won’t break the bank. Open weekdays and Saturday.
    • Root and Pecker (near the mall, W Gainesville) — I think the name is silly but really good food. They have a communal seating vibe and nice modern foodie brunch options. They also have other meals.
  • Special Occasions:
    • Paramount Grill (downtown) — my absolute favorite special occasion dinner in town. Good for romantic dinners as well as work-related ones. The food is sourced well, good portions, tastes light and fresh, and isn’t drowning in sauce or grease. My favorite is the salmon enchiladas but they always have a a vegetarian option or two as well.
    • Manuel’s Vintage Room (downtown) — more on the romantic side, this place has a mainly Italian menu. Gainesville has several Italian places but I always feel like they’re such a waste to go out to as I could cook the same thing at home. Manuel’s has much more upscale and special feeling options. What we had was delicious and I look forward to going back again.
    • Dragonfly (downtown) — see above.
  • For other recommendations and all the hot upcoming foodie news, check out Gainesville’s own food critic and blogger: Ken Eats Gainesville. He also has a Facebook page.

Drinking

Gainesville has good drinks:

  • Cocktails:
    • Dime Bar (downtown) — originally unnamed, this place finally settled on “Dime Bar” and is super cute and has great cocktails. Their happy hour special is pretty amazing: half price for a selection of their standards. Owned by the same group that also owns: the Top, the Atlantic, the Wooly, Pop-a-Top, and the Arcade Bar.
    • The Top (downtown) — to top off their food (see above) and beer (see below) selection, they also have a very nice cocktail list!
    • Madrina’s (downtown) — the most recent cocktail bar to open in Gainesville. Locals are still a bit sad about the closure of favorite Stubbies & Steins (beer & sausages) that used to be here, but Madrina’s is a terrific consolation. Craft cocktails in a cute space. If you’re with a group, try the Chupacabra: a cocktail served in a bronze pineapple that is sized from 2 to 8 people! Good happy hour.
    • The Sidecar/V Pizza (downtown) — the largest cocktail-oriented bar downtown, this place is good for groups. The huge curving bar has plenty of space to spread out, and they have a very nice selection of standard and creative cocktails. Try the “Trailer Fire” for some local flavor. And their wood-fired pizzas aren’t bad either (see: pizza).
  • Craft Breweries:
    • Swamp Head (SW Gainesville) — Gainesville’s original craft brewery, their “new” location off of SW 34th St is nicely outfitted overlooking a retaining pond. You can get their beers at the grocery store, but they have way more selection at the taproom of interesting and unusual brews.
    • First Magnitude (south of downtown, near Depot Park) — great beer, great atmosphere, great events. They have a very nice taproom and tons of space, and is the most kid-friendly of the bunch with playgrounds and lots of outdoor seating. You can find their beers in the grocery store too. Cool events such as the annual Springs 7.2k in Dec/Jan, and free yoga every Sunday at 1pm.
    • Cypress & Grove (north of downtown) — opened most recently near downtown / Duckpond area off the 6th St bike path. Bike to C&G and head to Civilization for dinner or Afternoon for lunch before/after! Located in the historic ice plant just off the converted railway.
    • Tall Paul’s (downtown) — they call themselves a “nanobrewery”, with their own beer brewed right on site in their tiny location downtown. Their label is called Alligator Brewing.
    • Blackadder (near the mall, W Gainesville) — the only place on this list included even though I have not yet been, that’s only because I plan to fix that very soon. I’ve heard only good things, including it being described as feeling like drinking in “someone’s living room”. It’s near the mall (W on University/Newberry before I-75).
  • Beer Selection:
    • Gainesville House of Beer (downtown) — with 40 rotating taps, this place has the biggest selection downtown and perhaps in Gainesville in general. Drink the rail and get free stuff! They have their own craft beer label, too, GHOB, brewed in nearby Dunedin. No food. Trivia on Wednesday nights!
    • World of Beer (Tioga Town Center, W of Gainesville) — this is a hike from downtown, and a chain, but it does have a good beer selection and tap take-over events.
    • The Brass Tap (Archer Rd) — since it’s on Archer Road, this isn’t my favorite place to drink but they do have a great selection and cool tap take-overs. No food.

Entertainment

Before you go writing off Gainesville as “too small” to have a vital entertainment and cultural scene, think again! Sure, the biggest acts won’t come to FL (but you can always drive a short distance to St. Augustine Ampitheatre, MidFlorida Credit Union Ampitheatre in Tampa, or Orlando’s multiple music venues for those). But Gainesville has a lot going for it locally, in my view, and I’ve enjoyed each of the events or things to do listed here.

  • Theatre:
    • The Hippodrome (downtown) — Gainesville’s only professional acting company. Their theatre is the crowning architectural glory of downtown Gainesville, a building that was once the main city post office. They have six shows a year plus a summer musical and a Christmas show. We subscribe every year but they also offer discounted previews for their shows just before opening weekend.
    • The Phillips Center for the Performing Arts (UF campus) — located in the heart of UF’s “Cultural Plaza” off SW 34th St, touring Broadway musicals, dance acts, high culture music acts, and other big name celebs come through here on their way to bigger FL destinations. We’ve seen Mamma Mia!, Sweet Charity, David Sedaris, Chelsea Handler, and soon, Ira Glass! Don’t get it confused with the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts, which is in Orlando.
    • The Gainesville area also has several very nice local community theatre groups, including: Acrosstown Repertory Theatre (downtown), Gainesville Community Playhouse (near 43rd & 16th), and the High Springs Playhouse (NW of Gainesville in High Springs).
  • Music:
    • Events
      • Free Fridays (downtown) — for a fun night out, check out the Free Fridays concert series in Bo Diddley Plaza. Bo Diddley was a famed blues / rock artist and musician who spent the last decade or so of his life in rural towns near Gainesville. Running most Friday nights in the warm months, the acts vary but is always completely free. The plaza is also surrounded by food trucks and vendors as well during these events.
      • Gator Growl (UF campus) — held during Homecoming weekend, once a year this concert event brings in a few major acts for a glorified pep rally. Food trucks and drinks, picnicking, and dancing. It’s not only for students, so if you are interested in the acts, feel free to get tickets. I went the year Snoop Dogg played. Apparently he likes the Gators.
      • Fest (downtown) — uniquely enough, Gainesville is host to one of the nation’s largest punk rock festivals. Fest is always held the weekend nearest to Halloween and brings a large number of out of town music fans. Passes can be expensive but individual shows are cheaper. At the very least, you’ll want to know this is going on before venturing out that weekend.
    • Venues
      • The Wooly (downtown) — a local venue that stages all kinds of events, from private parties to movies to craft fairs to music.
      • The Atlantic (downtown) — music venue and bar.
      • High Dive (downtown) — music venue and bar, they also host a monthly food truck rally in their parking lot. I’d say they get the biggest acts that come to Gainesville.
      • The Florida Theatre (just W of downtown) — a crumbling building which a developer recently purchased and promised to restore to its former glory. It still puts on some shows here and there. We’ve seen Henry Rollins live spoken word tour, and the Postmodern Jukebox there so far. Definitely worth keeping an eye on.
  • Comedy:
    • Rockey’s Dueling Piano Bar (downtown) — kind of a trashy venue otherwise, on Wednesday nights they do have stand-up comedy nights, ranging from open mics, local talent, to sometimes bigger names. I think David Spade came through here recently. Can be fun.
  • Community Events:
    • Storytelling (various) — quite a few venues around town have storytelling themed events, ranging from open mic to curated, including Satchel’s, the Bull, and more. Keep an eye on Facebook for upcoming nights.
    • PechaKucha (Volta, downtown) — not quite limited to storytelling, Gainesville has hosted its own local PechaKucha chapter for several years. PechaKucha is a talk format popularized in Japan and which has since spread globally, centering around the idea of “20 images in 20 minutes”. They’ve had a recent hiatus but they may always come back!
    • Burlesque and Drag (various) — Gainesville has a thriving local burlesque, drag, and independent entertainment scene. I usually keep an eye on Facebook for upcoming shows. Check out the UC, the Mischievous Madams and Maude’s Side Car Bar for starters.
    • Trivia (various) — trivia nights can be found nearly every night of the week in Gainesville. Some tried and true events are Thursdays in the Backyard (behind Boca Fiesta and the Palomino) and Wednesdays at Gainesville House of Beer.
  • Movies:
    • Gainesville is a Regal town: we have 3 Regal cinemas, two of which have reserved recliner seats (Celebration Pointe and Butler locations). Mostly they show the same movies. Sign up for the Regal Crown Club Rewards, known for being one of the best points systems in the biz!
    • For independent theatre, check out The Hippodrome. They show plenty of current indies, as well as revivals and some special events like “Cocktails and Classics”.
  • Museums:
    • Samuel P. Harn Museum of Art (UF campus) — located in UF’s “Cultural Plaza” with the Phillips Center and Natural History Museum (see below) just off SW 34th St, admission to this museum is free for everyone. They have a lovely little cafe which serves a nice menu.
    • Florida Museum of Natural History (UF campus) — next to the Harn, this is the state of Florida’s natural history museum. I love the natural wildlife dioramas, and the interpretive exhibit on the Calusa people who lived in Florida before the arrival of the Europeans. The Butterfly Rainforest is a can’t miss. Admission is also free, except to the Butterfly Rainforest and special exhibits (everything is always free for UF students).
    • Matheson History Museum (just E of downtown) — local Gainesville and Alachua County history museum. Gainesville has an interesting and storied past!
    • Cade Museum (Depot Park, S of downtown) — Gainesville’s newest museum, this one focuses on hands-on science, innovation, and discovery. It’s largely kid-focused but is a great local resource. It was founded by the Cade family and the estate of the inventor of Gatorade (yes, those Gators).
  • Team Bonding:
    • Trampoline Park (NW Gaineville) — Gainesville has one indoor trampoline recreation center that I know of, Get Air. They have kid-oriented spaces for younger children, obstacle courses, team trampoline basketball areas, and of course, trampolines. Our lab did this one semester and we actually had a great time!
    • Laser Tag (NW Gainesville) — Gainesville’s bowling alley Splitz in NW Gainesville also has an indoor laser tag room. It’s small-ish so works better for small groups, but when my lab did this several years ago, we had fun. There is also a larger outdoors recreational center W of Gainesville in Newberry, M2 Battlesports, that has laser tag suitable for larger teams,
    • Bowling (UF campus or NW Gainesville) — UF’s Reitz Union has a Game Room on the first floor that includes pool tables, foosball, table tennis, and 14 bowling lanes. Very good prices for UF affiliated groups / students, and free on Friday nights! Gainesville’s commercial bowling alley is called Splitz and is in NW Gainesville near I-75.
    • Escape Rooms (downtown) — Gainesville has had a few escape rooms come and go, but the most recent addition is America’s Escape Game, located on University Ave just W of downtown. I have not done this one but my partner has and he said it was pretty good.

Nature

Before I moved to Gainesville, I was not much of a nature buff. North Central Florida is some of the most beautiful land in the country, however. Everything is lush and green and the mix of vegetations due to the mix of local micro-ecosystems ranging from swamp to forest hammock to prairie makes for an interesting and unique experience. One of my favorite factoids about Gainesville is that there are 27 state parks within 100 miles of Florida, and 1 National Forest.

  • “Hiking”:
    • Gainesville and most of Florida is pretty flat. So calling these “hikes” won’t make a lot of sense to people who’ve actually experienced mountains. Still, North Central Florida has some beautiful off-road trails for walking in the woods. Get an annual park pass and support our local natural resources, or pay $2/pedestrian or $6/car per visit to use the parks. Bring bug spray or be prepared to inspect yourself for a long time afterward for ticks and chiggers in the wooded areas.
    • La Chua Trail (SE Gainesville) — #1 tourist hiking trail in Gainesville, and worth all the hype. Go early in the morning or during chillier weather for optimal gator sightings. They are usually well off the trail on the waterline, but if you do see one on the trail, give it a wide berth! Leave your pets and small children at home. Great water bird sightings and beautiful 3-mile round trip loop out into the prairie and back. Keep an eye on the Florida parks alerts, as the trail can be partially closed after periods of heavy rain. Bring sunscreen or a hat as there is little shade.
    • Payne’s Prairie Preserve State Park (S on 13th) — an honest-to-goodness prairie (savannah) in North Central Florida. This area was heavily used for cattle, bison, and horse ranching in the 1600s through the 1960s. Remnants of the Florida Cracker horses and bison herds still can be spotted, but are dwindling (and there are plans to let them die out since they are not native and the ecosystem variations are quite stressful to their population). There are lots of nice walking / running trails in the preserve, and most of them are shaded.
    • San Felasco Hammock Preserve State Park (NW Gainesville) — my personal favorite off-road trails to run on in Gainesville. There are a range of options, from a 1-mile loop on the parking lot side of the park, to 3, 5, or 6 (or more!) mile loops on the opposite side. Once you’re deep into the woods, you feel like you’re miles from civilization. Very shady and cool. Note that the mountain biking entrances are at a different side of the park than the hiking / running trails.
    • Devil’s Millhopper Geological State Park (NW Gainesville) — a 1,000 year old sinkhole, this park has a half-mile loop on the top, and 212 wooden stairs down into the hole, and back up again. A great opportunity to see the way that sinkholes blossom into micro-ecosystems as tropical-zone plants that can grow down below can’t survive in the NCFL “winters” up top.
    • Other parks of particular interest and/or note: O’Leno State Park, Manatee Springs State Park, Ocala National Forest.
  • Biking:
    • Biking is an easy pastime to pick up here in Gainesville, what with it being so flat and the weather being pretty perfect for it year-round. Just plan to go early in the day during summer months, and make sure you bring plenty of water. We have awesome local bike shops as well. I’m partial to:
      • Bikes ‘n More (N of downtown on W 6th St): got my roadbike here and they have always worked with me to make sure it fit well and that I was able to meet my riding goals.
      • Goodbike (near campus on W 13th St, satellite location N of downtown off the 6th St bike trail) — I get my hybrid serviced here, and it also specializes in mountain bikes. Friendly and fast service.
      • The bike shops do local group trail and road rides, so check those out!
    • Places to bike in-town: Gainesville-Hawthorne Trail (paved multi-use), Depot Park (paved multi-use, connects to Hawthorne Trail), San Felasco (off-road/mountain), Ocala National Forest (off-road/mountain).
  • Kayaking/Canoeing:
    • I’ve only kayaked off Cedar Key (see: Day Trips and Getaways) so far but there is great river and gulf/ocean kayaking all up and down Florida, so if that’s your thing you can definitely find options. There’s also kayaking and canoeing on local Newnan’s Lake (E of Gainesville) or Lake Wauburg (S on 13th St, free entrance for UF students, faculty, and staff) in town.
  • Swimming:
    • Oceans: Gainesville is about 90-minutes from the closest ocean beaches, on the Atlantic side, near St. Augustine, Butler, and Crescent beaches. Keep in mind that on the Gulf side up here, it’s known as the “Nature Coast” and it’s more marshy and wetland, less available beach area for swimming or sunbathing. To go to the Gulf side, you’d be better off heading down to the Tampa Bay / Clearwater areas.
    • Springs: the natural springs are NCFL’s real star for swimming, though. Many are within 45 minutes of Gainesville, and boast crystal clear waters that are emitted from the Floridan Aquifer at a constant 72 degrees Fahrenheit year-round. Swimming, tubing, floating, scuba diving, kayaking, canoeing, and boating are allowed on most or many of the springs in the area. Some of my favorites:
      • Ichetucknee — probably the most iconic, owned by the state. You can tube down crystal clear waters during the summer months. It does have a capacity per day so if you want to get on the full length of the river, you’ll have to get there early (the bottom half doesn’t fill up as early but still will). No alcohol or disposable containers on the water.
      • Ginnie — privately-owned. The springs outlets themselves are clear, but most of the tubing is actually on the Santa Fe River. Lots of camping in this area and can be a bit more rowdy since alcohol is allowed.
  • City or Other Parks:
    • Kanapaha Botanical Gardens (W on Archer Rd) — very lovely curated botanical gardens, with plants of all types. There are several mile-ish loops through different regions of the gardens that showcase different types of plants. Highlights include the bamboo stands, Japanese garden, and butterfly garden.
    • Morningside Nature Center (E Gainesville) — this is a park and nature preserve, but also a historic working farm including an interpretive display on the first Saturday of the month during the school year (see: Historic Sites). Amazing wildflowers. Includes 7 miles of trails. They hold native plant sales every fall and spring.
    • Depot Park (just S of downtown) — a recently renovated site that has been restored to a multi-use recreational park in balance with the local wetlands wildlife areas. There is a giant playground, pavilions that can be rented, a stage for local events, and a small walking / running / biking trail that cuts through the south end of the park for a bit of nature spotting. Also includes: the Pop-a-Top market and the Boxcar bar, great places to grab a bite or brew and hang out.

Events and Festivals

  • Fest — see: Music.
  • Artwalk (downtown) — once a month of the last Friday, Gainesville’s several art galleries and businesses that exhibit local art downtown open their doors for a walkable art tour from 7-10pm. It’s self-guided and very hands-off, which I like.
  • Spring/Fall Arts Festivals (downtown) — twice a year, Gaineville’s downtown is transformed into the Downtown Festival & Arts Show. Local artists / craftspeople and food trucks mix in with art and food from all over the region, and some artists come from even further to exhibit here. Handmade items of all types are on display and for sale. It’s really a huge event and can be fun to walk around even if you’re not buying anything.
  • Friends of the Library Book Sale (downtown) — a couple of times a year, typically in fall and in spring, the Friends of the Alachua County Library System holds a charity booksale to benefit the library. Always well-attended, just don’t plan to drive up Main that day if you don’t want to go to the sale!
  • ActiveStreets (downtown/Depot Park) — this event has morphed over the years, but I’ve attended nearly every single one. Different than you typical festival which is about consumption, this one is about being active (read: less food/buying, more information/recreation). The goal is to open our minds to what our cities could look like if the roads and byways were more pedestrian-friendly. They used to shut down University Ave downtown for 10 blocks but lately they’ve centered it around the recently opened Depot Park and set up along Main Street instead.
  • Micanopy Fall Festival (Micanopy) — smaller than Gainesville’s festivals, I found this one fun to attend because it had a homier vibe and more historic feeling.
  • Kanapaha Spring Garden Festival (W on Archer Rd) — the Kanapaha Botanical Gardens (see below) holds their annual spring garden festival in March, and it includes a plant auction, lots of handmade artisans, local plant sellers, and food trucks. Bring water!

Shopping

Coming soon!

  • Downtown Farmer’s Market
  • Alachua County Farmer’s Market
  • Natural/Organic
    • Trader Joe’s
    • Lucky’s
    • Earth Fare
    • Whole Foods
  • Outlets (St. Augustine, Orlando)
  • Gator Gear

Historic Sites

Coming soon!

  • Morningside Nature Center
  • Dudley Farm
  • Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings House

Day Trips and Get-Aways

Coming soon!

  • Cedar Key
  • Horseshoe Beach
  • St. Augustine
  • Jekyll Island
  • Savannah
  • Sarasota
  • St. Petersburg

Unique to Florida

Coming soon!

  • Weeki Wachee Mermaid Shows
  • Waterskiing Shows
  • Manatee Sightings
  • Boiled Peanuts
  • Sugar Cane Boil

Miscellaneous

  • @UFWeather — anyone who arrives in Gainesville in August will pretty quickly come to expect our daily afternoon thunderstorms. While not particularly long-lasting, these can drench you inside of a minute. So it can be very helpful to have some warning. However, you may notice that most weather services will just say “thunderstorms” in the forecast every day for Gainesville. The only source I’ve found that actually can give you an up-to-date accurate forecast of when those storms will be rolling through Gainesville is the @UFWeather team. You can sign up for Twitter notifications to get sent straight to your phone as a text message. Never get caught in a #downpouralert again!
  • Gainesville Word of Mouth Facebook Group — a terrific resource if you’re looking for recommendations for anything in Gainesville, or want to report on a particularly good/bad experience with any local business. Search past posts for recommendations on what you’re looking for, or just post a request for recommendations yourself. Good source of local gossip too.

That’s it so far! This page was last revised on September 3, 2018. I hope you find it useful! If there’s something on here that you think I’m missing, well, you can send it, but if I haven’t experienced it, it won’t get added till I can recommend it myself. Gainesville is a great city and I hope you grow to love it as much as I do.

(C) 2018 Lisa Anthony.

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