The University of Florida is a top-rated public university, so naturally school is very important to all the students who attend. However, when Gators aren't studying at the library or taking classes on campus, they can have fun around Gainesville. It's the perfect college town and with the work hard play hard culture at UF, you'll never be bored on weekends. From nightlife to unique local spots, Gainesville has everything you need to have fun as a college student during your 4 years here.
The Swamp has some of best college football gamedays around the country. Everyone in Gainesville comes together to tailgate and go to the game. If you are a part of Greek life, many fraternities host tailgates on campus to hang out with your friends. There are also several other small tailgates and local bars open for the occasion. Many students purchase season tickets in the beginning of the year to save money and be guaranteed a spot at every game. Pro tip: make sure to bring a clear bag and your gator one ID to get into all the football games. If you have tickets in the student section, you'll love the incredible atmosphere of the 90,000 fans cheering. You can purchase food and beverages at the game, enjoy a half time show from the band, see Albert and Alberta alligator, and even sing "We Won't Back Down" after the third quarter. Overall, gator game days in the fall are events that you won't want to miss and are one of the most memorable times from the UF experience.
If you like to go out with friends, don't worry because Gainesville offers many lively nightlife and entertainment options to enjoy. There are bars both for 18+ and 21+ and the main locations for these establishments are in the downtown and midtown areas. If you're headed to the midtown area, JJs Tavern, Fat Daddy's, and Rowdy Reptile are a few fan favorites. Social is also a bar and restaurant in the area with more of an upscale vibe. Salty Dog Saloon, also in midtown, has a more relaxed sit-down atmosphere. On the other hand, the main nightlife options downtown are The Range, White Buffalo, and Downtown Fats. Crybaby's and Arcade bar are a little bit swankier and more expensive. The Top restaurant has a backyard garden bar with a great vibe perfect for summer. Knockin Boost is a country themed bar that often hosts concerts and Simons is more of a club that occasionally has EDM artists come.
Gainesville has nearly unlimited dining options for all different types of cuisine. If you are a foodie, you are definitely in the right place to have some fun exploring everything that the college town has to offer. There are obviously a lot of major well known chain restaurants; however, the best spots are the local small business hidden gems. If you're looking for breakfast places, Luke's New York Bagels, Afternoon, Halo Potato Donuts, and Flying Biscuit are some of the best. For more fancy dinner options try Dragon Fly Sushi or OAK downtown. Munecas, Sublime, and Boca Fiesta are great spots for Mexican cuisine. And if you're looking for a sweet treat, Sweet Berries and Rock and Roll have a lot of yummy dessert options. There's really something for everyone!
If you're more into nature, Gainesville offers many different fun trails and parks to take advantage of. A popular option near downtown is Depot Park. Students love to come walk on the trails, hammock, workout, or just relax outside. This Park is also dog friendly, so you can bring your furry friend along for the ride. Payne's Prairie is another fun park to checkout. Student love to go and watch the sunset or investigate the swamp for real gators. A final place to checkout in Gainesville is lake Wauberg. Free to all University of Florida Students with their gator ID, this beautiful lake has scenic views and is just a car ride or bus trip from campus. You can relax on the beach, walk the trails, and even rent kayaks, canoes, and paddleboards.
Weekend Getaway Spots
Once you've made it through all the fun options in Gainesville there are some quick weekend getaway spots right outside of the town to checkout just a short road trip away. The first popular spot for a little trip is St Augustine, FL. Just an hour and thirty minutes away, this charming historic beach town has many different attractions. You can visit the fort, take a ghost tour, go shopping, or visit one of the museums. Not to mention St Augustine has some of the best restaurants and dessert spots in all of Florida. It's also home to the beautiful Flagler college. You can head there for a day trip or stay in one of the many hotel options that range from luxury to affordable. Another great spot for a weekend trip is Ginnie Springs. This swim spot is open year-round but be sure to check the hours depending on the season before you go! Admission is only $20, and you are able to rent any equipment you need for the fun day including paddleboards, kayaks, tubes, and snorkeling gear for an additional cost. Spend the day relaxing and unwinding in this natural wonder. Finally, if you can't get enough of gator football try making a weekend trip to some of the nearby away games. This gives you and your friends the chance to watch football every weekend, even if it's not in the Swamp.