Gainesville is located in Alachua County in North Central Florida with a population of approximately 133,000. It is home to the University of Florida, which is currently the 5th largest university in the country by enrollment, as well as Santa Fe College. While the city definitely exudes college town vibes, its unique location makes it easily accessible to a wide variety of outdoor activities, entertainment venues, and cultural events. And with warm summers and temperate winters, you can enjoy these opportunities year-round.
Outdoor Activities & Sports
There is no denying the electric atmosphere that takes over the city of Gainesville during game days. With numerous NCAA Division I sports teams and 20 men’s and women’s teams competing in the Southeastern Conference (SEC) there is no shortage of athletic events. Football games are held at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, a.k.a “The Swamp”, which is less than 1.5 miles from the UF Health campus and is the largest stadium in the state of Florida with a capacity upwards of 88,000 fans. Thousands of spectators flood Midtown during home games and the city nearly shuts down with tailgates in every corner. UF Health faculty and staff are privy to discounted tickets before the season begins, which many of our residents have taken advantage of. Click here to learn more about UF Athletics.
While Gainesville is not a coastal city it is situated near some of the most beautiful and scenic freshwater springs that the state of Florida has to offer. Some of the most popular springs where you can find our residents cooling off during the summer include Ginnie Springs and Ichetucknee Springs where you can go river tubing, kayaking, snorkeling or scuba diving. Within a 30 minute drive is also Devil’s Den which features a cave with a staircase leading to an underground spring and is also a popular scuba-diving destination.
Hiking and Trails
If you are daring enough to get up close and personal with the university’s preeminent mascot, then you can’t go wrong with visiting La Chua Trail. With an elevated boardwalk, the 5 km round trip hike provides excellent sightings of the alligators that dot Paynes Prairie, as well as other wildlife including birds, bison and wild horses. Devil’s Millhopper State Park is also a great place to visit for hiking and natural scenery featuring a large sinkhole formed by dissolving limestone.
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For a medium-sized town, Gainesville offers big city variety in terms of options for cuisines and unique culinary experiences. Besides the slew of major chain restaurants that can be found in Butler Plaza along Archer Rd including P.F. Chang’s, Olive Garden, Bahama Breeze, Bonefish Grill, and Cheesecake Factory, there are numerous restaurants to try that are unique to Downtown Gainesville. If you are feeling up to some brisket and barbecue you can try MOJO Hogtown Bar-B-Que located downtown or Adam’s Rib Company which is right around the corner from the UF Health Heart & Vascular Hospital. If sushi is more your style, then Dragonfly Sushi is the place to be. Head over to The Top for some American fusion and unique mixed drinks, although you might want to get there early as this place gets packed during dinner time.
A few of our favorites:
|american & fusion||asian||breakfast & brunch||latin||pizza & italian|
|The Top||Beque Holic (Korean BBQ)||Maple Street Biscuit Company||La Tienda||Satchel’s Pizza|
|MOJO Hogtown Bar-B-Que||Bangkok Square Thai||Metro Diner||Mi Apa Latin Cafe||Piesano’s Stone Fired Pizza|
|Original American Kitchen (O.A.K.)||Dragonfly Sushi||Flying Biscuit||Pepper’s Mexican Grill & Cantina||V Pizza|
|Public & General||Uppercrust||MidiCi Neapolitan Pizza|
|4 Rivers Smokehouse||Keke’s Breakfast Cafe|
Day Trips & Weekend Getaways
Just two hours from Gainesville, Orlando is home to a number of world-renowned theme parks including Walt Disney World, Universal Studios & Islands of Adventure, and SeaWorld. One of the most popular events that takes place during the fall is the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival where you can sample cuisines from all around the world. The parks also transform during the holidays with Universal Studios’ Halloween Horror Nights being one of the most popular events for late October thrills, and numerous Christmas specials in nearly all the major theme parks that run from early November through early January. Orlando definitely has more to offer than just theme parks, and if you are looking for to catch a basketball game with the Orlando Magic or the next big concert then head over to the Amway Center.
Tampa, Clearwater & St. Petersburg
The Tampa Bay area is a quickly expanding metropolitan city which has much to offer in terms of entertainment and relaxation. If you are looking to enjoy professional sports, Tampa is home to the NHL team, the Tampa Bay Lightning, as well as an NFL team, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Amalie Arena is also a major entertainment and sports venue that is privy to many big name musicians. The David A. Straz Center attracts world-class plays including major Broadway shows. Not far from Downtown Tampa is Clearwater Beach which is often named as one of the top beaches in America. St. Petersburg offers eclectic cafes and restaurants by the water as well as numerous art exhibits, including The Dali Museum where you can view some of Salvador Dali’s most famous works, as well as the Chihuly Museum which is home to amazing glass sculptures. During the winter time, Tampa Bay draws in thousands of visitors for its famous Gasparilla Parade of Pirates where crowds cheer as more than a 100 elaborately decorated floats throw beaded necklaces at bystanders.
The oldest continuously inhabited city in the continental U.S is just 80 miles from Gainesville. Founded in 1565 by Spanish explorers it retains a lot of its old colonial architecture and is home to several historic sites including Castillo de San Marcos, a 17th century Spanish fortress, and the St. Augustine lighthouse. The city is also home to the beautiful Flagler College which was originally a hotel built in the Spanish Renaissance style. Besides its rich history, St. Augustine offers excellent beaches along the coast of the Atlantic, as well as tons of unique shopping and top-rated restaurants. This is a popular weekend getaway spot for our residents and their families.
Gainesville is also closely situated to other major metropolitan cities. Atlanta, Georgia and Miami, Florida are both approximately 5-6 hour drive. There are also three major cruise ship ports all within driving distance including Tampa, Port Canaveral and Miami.
Where to Live in Gainesville?
No matter what your preferences are, there is a part of town for you. Gainesville’s relatively low cost of living offers a wide range of housing types and locations and we have an even mix of residents who choose to rent or buy during their experience here at UF.
For those seeking an urban feel, Downtown and Midtown Gainesville offer the convenience of nearby restaurants, nightlife, and cultural events all within walking distance of your abode. And it is only a 10 minute bike ride from UF Health or you can ride the RTS bus system for FREE with your Gator1 ID card.
There are two historic districts – the Duck Pond neighborhood located north east of downtown and the Bed and Breakfast neighborhood located south east of downtown.
For those seeking a more suburban experience, there are many different parts of town from which to choose (too many to adequately list and describe here – feel free to contact us via email to inquire further) and west Gainesville/Newberry are rapidly growing. There are also many smaller towns nearby from which to choose if you prefer a rural setting.
For those with children, Gainesville has many excellent schools to choose from: Great Schools
Learn more about our current residents by viewing the Resident Spotlights.