Students at both UF and Santa Fe begin searching for apartments around November. The season typically peaks around May and everyone has typically secured an apartment by late August. Apartments aren’t scarce once the season is over, but any apartments in student hot spots or convenient to the University are likely to be snatched up by late summer.
Perhaps you didn’t know that Gainesville is famous for its vibrant music scene. This little city has conceived many famous artists, including (but not limited to) Tom Petty, Against Me!, and The Eagles. Oh, and do you happen to be worried about encountering alligators as they slither around your back yard? Have no fear! They’re rarely a problem here, even for those that live write on the lake.
Areas surrounding UF are relatively easy to get to on foot or on bike, but many other parts of Gainesville simply aren’t practical. Having a car is also a big advantage if you want to have access to one of the many nearby cities. Gainesville is only about an hour and a half away from Jacksonville and Orlando, and only 5 hours away from Atlanta and Miami. The top way to get around the main neighborhoods in Gainesville is via bus. The Regional Transit System (RTS) goes to a number of different places in the city, making it easy to navigate for those without a car. Some complain that buses can be a bit slow at times, but it’s well worth avoiding the crazy parking situation on campus. The general consensus tends to be that biking or walking to campus is preferable, while bus comes in at a close third.
Okay, so most people that know anything about Gainesville can figure out that the town is crazy about sports. Midtown will flood with bodies making their way towards the stadium for a good game. But what if you’re not into sports? Well, how about a good festival? Gainesville offers a fest for a wide variety of interests, including a Spring Arts Festival, Downtown Festival and Art Show, Beer Fest, Hoggetowne Improv Festival, and the Hoggetown Medieval Faire.
Gainesville may not offer too many touristy attractions, but when it comes to taking a walk on the wild side, Gator Country’s got you covered! If you're a lover of fauna, head over to the Santa Fe College Teaching Zoo. This small 10-acre zoo houses many different kinds of animal exhibits, ranging from wild cats to snakes. Flora more your style? The Kanapaha Botanical Gardens offer 62 acres of paradise to explore, including an arboretum, bamboo garden, classic rose garden, and hummingbird garden, among other collections.
Gainesville’s food scene leaves little to be desired. Tasting Gator Country is one of the most awesome ways to spend your time! Featuring dishes from across the globe ranging from Japan to Germany, there's almost nothing you won't be able to find. Though you can find great eats around basically any corner, many of the best locally owned establishments are located right Downtown! Whether you're hoping to devour the perfect hangover cure or take your date out for a night on the town, you're sure to find a restaurant for the occasion!
The bar scene in Gator Country is alive and well, so much so that pointing out all of the top hot spots in the area is nearly impossible. If you want to party hard, hit up the dives and nightclubs along University Avenue in Downtown Gainesville, where you can finish off the night by drunkenly staggering back home with tons of other students. Those that are under 21 can check out some of the hot spots in Midtown, many of which allow underage people to enter with an "x" on their hand. Looking for specifics? Some of the local favorites include the Salty Dog and Balls.
Though many of the cultural events in Gator Country revolve around UF, the Thomas Center is often called the "cultural heart" of Gainesville. Once a private mansion, this gorgeous place now is home to two art galleries, restored rooms from the 1920's, and some historic exhibits. You can even see a play or two in the performance space! The architecture is so beautiful that many come simply to feel like they've been transported to the Mediterranean and explore the lush grounds. Of course, this isn't the only cultural attraction that Gainesville can brag about. A college town through and through, you can also find small art galleries dappling the landscape for your enjoyment. For a little slice of Broadway right in Central Florida, head over to the The Hipp for a knock out show!
Gainesville hosts a number of events every year, but none are more celebrated than the Downtown Festival and Art Show. Bringing more than 100,000 people together every year, this two-day fest features some of the finest artworks from Central Florida and beyond, ranging from paintings to jewelry. Many of these items are for sale, while others compete for prizes. Enjoy the sounds of bands from every genre, as well as some dazzling dance performances from around the world. Vibrant and just downright fun, the Downtown Festival and Art Show is a must-see!
Gainesville may not provide an abundance of options, but quality over quantity definitely applies when it comes to Gator Country! Professional shoppers should make Butler Plaza their first destination. Known as the "Miracle Mile," this complex includes everything from cute clothing boutiques to mid-range chains like Target. Shop-until-you-drop outdoors at the Tioga Town Center, which boasts specialty shops to luxury boutiques. Waldo Farmer's and Flea Market provides a less commercial shopping option, with over 50 acres of markets featuring unique antiques, handmade jewelry, and fresh local foods.
There's a reason why people say that Gainesville bleeds green. University of Florida’s Gators are widely loved, but basketball and football tends to be the closest to people's hearts. On a game day, the Ben Hill Griffin Stadium – or "The Swamp" as it's affectionately called – is always filled to the brim with thousands of viewers! Why all the love? UF's teams are first class with win after win fostering an overwhelming sense of pride in the community.
One of Gainesville's best qualities is that it’s located right in the heart of some of Florida’s most awesome natural landscapes. The highlight of Gator Country is Paynes Prairie Preserve, a National Landmark that’s defined by gorgeous marshland landscapes and rich wildlife. Enjoy sightseeing from the many observation platforms, with chances of spotting alligators, bison, or even horses! You can also take advantage of the area's paved hiking and biking trails. Honorable mention for parks go to Devil’s Millhopper Geological State Park, a unique rainforest environment set at the bottom of a 120-foot dip in the earth.