Gainesville is primarily known for being home to the University of Florida. Saturdays in the fall months revolve around Florida Gator college football, and the winter and spring months are spent following Florida Gatorbasketball.
Supporters of the Florida Gator athletic programs are known for traveling from all over the country to support the teams, but for residents of the Villages of Citrus Hills, it is only a little over an hour away.
However, even if sports are not your thing, there is still plenty of excitement to be found in the fantastic college town of Gainesville.
In addition to being the gathering place for Gator fans, alumni, and students, Gainesville is also home to a number of great nature attractions, lots of cultural events, and an outstanding selection of shopping and dining options.
Florida Gator Football
The Florida Gator football team plays their home games on campus at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, which is affectionately referred to as “The Swamp.” The stadium has an official seating capacity of 88,548, but attendance on game days is often over 90,000, and that’s not counting all of the people who come into town to watch the game at local bars and restaurants!
If you are interested in attending a Florida Gators football game at The Swamp, you can usually find tickets available through Ticketmaster or their resale program. For parking, all of the lots around the stadium generally open at 8:00 am on game days, but they fill up fast with tailgaters! You will also see that quite a few local residents charge for parking in their yard.
If you feel more comfortable watching the game from a local sports bar, Gator City Sports Grill, Gator Tales, Gator’s Dockside, and BJ’s Restaurant & Brewhouse are all located nearby and will all be filled with Gator fans on game day.
Gainesville Nature and History
One of the most popular attractions in all of Gainesville is the Kanapaha Botanical Gardens. This 62-acre facility contains 24 different major collections of some of the most beautiful gardens you will ever see. From palm trees to bamboo, there is a wide selection of different types of plants throughout the gardens, and even the rock garden is done in impressive fashion!
Another must-see attraction in Gainesville is the Florida Museum of Natural History. In addition to the standard historical exhibits you would expect to find in any great museum of natural history, this museum contains the Butterfly Rainforest exhibit that features more than 1,500 differing butterflies! They also have exhibits that specialize in studying shark attacks around the world, as well as ancient shell mounds along the west coast of Florida.
Dining in Gainesville
If you are looking for a casual place to grab a bite to eat around Gainesville, three places you will definitely want to check out are La Tienda Latina, Adams Rib Co., and Leonardo’s Pizza By The Slice.
La Tienda Latina is well known for their authentic tacos and fantastic salsa, and it is a common occurrence for visitors who eat lunch here to find themselves coming back again for dinner.
In similar fashion, Adams Rib Co. is known for their outstanding pulled pork and ribs, but the big selling point here is their incredible selection of BBQ sauces. This is also a great place to pig out (pun intended) during a football or basketball game because there are TVs everywhere!
Just want to grab a quick slice of pizza? You can’t go wrong with Leonardo’s. This Gainesville classic serves up thick slices of pizza, and they’re located just down the street from Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, across the street from campus.
If you are looking to enjoy a more formal dinner, Embers Wood Grill is the one place you absolutely have to try. This elegant white-tablecloth restaurant is known for its mouth-watering steak and seafood options, as well as its tremendous wine selection. They are also known for the first-class service delivered by their professional waitstaff.
Much like any college town, Gainesville has a certain feel of optimism in the air. Regardless of whether you are in town for the big game, to check out the museum, or just for a great meal, you almost can’t help finding yourself walking around campus or downtown and enjoying the college town atmosphere.
And if you feel like a bit of shopping Gainesville has The Oaks Mall, Butler Plaza and Union Street Station to name just a few. There is also a Trader Joe’s for a unique grocery shopping experience.