Gainesville is the type of city you see in movies. Neighbors wave hello at one another, kids play outdoors, yards are green, the oak trees tower and there are beautiful bodies of water throughout. The buildings are lined with bricks and the trees are filled with Spanish moss. The city is home to Florida’s oldest and largest university, the University of Florida.
Compared to the towns around Gainesville, it is a large city. People in the surrounding areas commute to Gainesville to shop at the Oaks Mall, get treatment at UF Health Shands Hospital and work within the vibrant community. Compared to metropolitan areas in Florida, like Miami, Orlando, Tampa or Jacksonville, Gainesville is a small and peaceful town.
The city is full of culture, from the historic University of Florida campus, to the Hippodrome State Theatre, to Art Walk. The University of Florida Cultural Plaza alone is home to the Florida Museum of Natural History, the Harn Museum of Art and the Curtis M. Phillip Center for the Performing Arts; however, the plaza is only a fraction of the art’s presence in the community. Public art, like the Gainesville Solar Walk, adds character to the area. The Solar Walk lies along about one mile of 8th Ave. The art was designed by Elizabeth Indianos, and is a 4 billion to 1 scale model of the solar system and a few stars. The art can be admired from within the car, on bike or on a hike.
Gainesville has personality. Signature restaurants, like Satchels Pizza, the Flying Biscuit and the Top, are fun spots for community members, students and visiting families. Satchels is basically decorated with junk and local art. License plates line the parking spots, a fountain put together with hodge-podge sits in the middle of the parking lot and food is served on a mixture of plate sets and utensils. You can even eat your food inside of an old-style van!
Rather than painting sporadic walls throughout the city with graffiti, artists confine their work to a 1,120-foot wall on 34th street and the Norman tunnel. Artists and students alike paint messages on the wall that express their emotions and opinions.
Gainesville is the perfect place to live for road trippers. While Gainesville is landlocked, residents continue to enjoy living in the sunshine state. Just a hop, skip and a jump away from Gainesville is a visit to St. Augustine Beach, Jacksonville Beach, Crescent Beach and more. Additionally, Gainesville is less than two hours away from the Walt Disney World and other big-box Orlando area attractions. Unlike most of Florida cities, Gainesville is close to the border. Georgia and Alabama are short road trips from Gainesville.
Devil’s Millhopper Geological State Park, Paynes Prairie Preserve and Lake Wauburg are adventurous places to head on the weekends and for special events. At Devil’s Millhopper, you can climb steps into a giant sink hole, where you are surrounded by waterfalls, trees and wildlife. Paynes Prairie Preserve hosts special stargazing nights that include peace of mind, hot chocolate and s’mores. During the daylight, Paynes Prairie is home to trails, habitats and wildlife. Ginnie Springs, Itchetucknee Springs and Blue Springs are only a few of the springs to relax at on hot days. Students and families alike head to the springs to float along the 73-degree water and enjoy the day.
The University of Florida consistently ranks as one of the top 50 universities in the United States. Santa Fe College also calls Gainesville home. Santa Fe is currently the top community college in the country based on the Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence.
Gainesville and its surrounding areas beam with Gator pride. On game days, fans dress from head to toe in Orange and Blue. Outside of the Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, you can hear the thunderous clap of fans chomping their arms together at kick off. Football is not the only big box sport at the University of Florida; the coaching staff brought home 13 National Championships and 78 Conference Titles in the 2015-2016 school year.
Fitness lovers have a plethora of options to choose from. Whether they choose to use the abundant bike lanes to go for a ride, the trails throughout campus and local nature, campus tracks and fitness centers or one of the countless local gyms, there is a workout spot for every workout preference. When it comes to gyms, there are large-scale, small niche, low cost, body building, women-only and weight loss gyms throughout Gainesville. There are also studios for specific workouts, like yoga, karate and kick-boxing.
Gainesville’s highly educated population is a catalyst for innovative and creative work. Beginning in 1965, Gainesville has been a hub for entrepreneurship. A team of researchers created Gatorade. The concoction quickly migrated from the lab to the sidelines as an iconic sports beverage. Today, new ideas thrive at the University of Florida’s Innovation Hub, which has helped launch more than 60 companies and is expanding to house more.
Gainesville in 2010, is a mere shadow of what the city is today. Long-time businesses have relocated to larger locations to accommodate more variety. And the city continues to expand. Throughout the next year, Celebration Pointe and the expansion of Butler Plaza will bring even more businesses to Gainesville. The list of newbies is constantly growing. Soon, Bahama Breeze, P.F. Changs and Whole Foods will be opening Gainesville locations, to name a few. It seems that at every turn new businesses are being constructed.
Gainesville’s high-traffic streets share namesakes with the cities they lead out to, like Archer, Newberry and Williston. Gainesville is home to local communities like Haile Plantation, the Town of Tioga and Historic Duckpond, among others. Haile Plantation is a community within Gainesville. It is home to many current and retired professors. The community is a small village within Gainesville. The Haile Village Center is a hub for businesses in the community. It’s Haile Plantation’s Main Street, U.S.A. Each Saturday, rain or shine, the Farmers Market opens to greet community members with fresh foods, laughter and a sense of community.