What restaurants and activities should my family check out while in Gainesville for UF Preview?

UF Preview is a long-standing tradition where baby gators spend 2-days at the University of Florida in May, June, or July getting registered for classes, learning about life at UF, and exploring campus. This orientation is the perfect opportunity for students and parents to get acclimated to Gainesville and explore the city.

Our team of Gator grads has compiled some of the best activities, restaurants, places to shop for Gator gear, and more for parents and students to check out while in town.

Local Restaurants You Have to Try

You and your student will get the chance to try campus dining food for lunches and dinners during UF Preview which is extremely helpful in selecting a meal plan for your student's first year. But if you're looking to check out some local restaurants, here are our top 5 picks.

Satchels Pizza

Satchels (10 minutes from the UF campus) has been the Gainesville pizza spot since 2003. This quirky, artsy restaurant serves up incredible thin-crust pizzas and calzones in an incredible atmosphere. You can even eat in the classic van for the true Gainesville experience!

Las Margaritas

Las Margaritas (11 minutes from the UF campus) is a festive Mexican restaurant serving traditional, mouth-watering Mexican food and phenomenal margaritas.

The Top 

The Top (4 minutes from the UF campus) is the go-to spot in Downtown Gainesville. The American fare and cocktails here always hit the mark, and you'll love the hip, casual vibe. 

OAK Gainesville

If you're looking for brunch or dinner, OAK (4 minutes from the UF campus) is the way to go. This trendy spot Downtown serves delicious Southern fare and cocktails.

El Indio

Needing something quick on the go for lunch? Check out El Indio (3 minutes from the UF campus) on 13th Street for delicious and affordable drive-through Mexican food.

Best Stores for Gator Gear 

Celebrate your new Gator and get stocked up on the best Gator gear while you're in town for UF Preview!

Alumni Hall

Alumni Hall (6 minutes from the UF campus) off Archer Road is always stocked with the best Gator gear in town for parents and students.

UF Bookstore

The UF Bookstore on campus in the Reitz Union is a great spot to drop by while you're on campus with your student, offering not only school supplies but also tons of Gator attire and gear.


GatorPatch (9 minutes from the UF campus) in the OAKS Mall is another great, local option to check out.

Local Coffee Shops to Keep You Fueled

It's no secret that UF Preview is a long, jam-packed 2 days of events. Lucky for you, there are lots of local coffee shops to keep you and your student fueled during these busy 2 days.

Coffee Culture

Coffee Culture (4 minutes from the UF campus) is a great drive-through option if you're on the go, and they always have amazing, rotating seasonal flavors.

Opus Coffee

Opus Coffee has a few locations around town, including one at the 4th Ave Food Park and one in the Innovation District, and offers great coffees and teas.

Maude's Coffee

Maude's (5 minutes from the UF campus) is a great place to soak up the culture of Downtown Gainesville with a beautiful outdoor courtyard and delicious drinks and food.

Wyatt's Coffee

Wyatt's (5 minutes from the UF campus) is another great, trendy spot Downtown with amazing lattes.

Fun Activities around UF with Your Student or Solo

Whether you're wanting to make some memories with the family when your student has a break from UF Preview activities, or you're looking to explore the city on your own while your student is busy, here are 5 great options to check out.

The Florida Museum of Natural History

This museum (2 minutes from the UF campus) always has limited-time-only special exhibits, and lots of permanent outdoor exhibits to check out with the family. Most notable is the Butterfly Rainforest where you can walk through and see hundreds of free-flying butterflies and birds!

Nature Parks

Gainesville is packed with lots of beautiful nature. Our top two picks are Devil's Millhopper Geological State Park (13 minutes from the UF campus) and Payne's Prairie Preserve (15 minutes from the UF campus) for a relaxing walk with the family.

Depot Park

Depot Park near Sorority Row (5 minutes from the UF campus) features a playground and splash pad if you have younger kids, plus lots of open fields close to great, local food and coffee joints for a nice time outdoors.

UF Bat House

The UF Bat House is an iconic spot across from Lake Alice on the UF Campus where hundreds of bats emerge after sunset over Lak Alice. This is an unforgettable Gainesville experience!

Butler Town Center

If you're looking to shop till you drop, Butler Town Center (6 minutes from the UF campus) is the spot. This large shopping plaza features big box stores like Target and Trader Joes, as well as some local boutiques.

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