Gainesville is associated almost exclusively with all things UF — especially for new students from pockets of Florida and across the country who wouldn’t be able to point to where Gainesville is on a map.
While UF has much to offer, Gainesville itself does too. It doesn’t take many miles of driving or even walking to find fun spots to hang out, eat and enjoy memorable experiences that make college worth it.
Feeline Good Cat Cafe
Nestled among busy bars and crowded coffee shops, Gainesville’s only cat cafe resides in the heart of downtown. The cafe, located at 201 SE Second Place, offers customers the chance to book up to two hours with a room full of cats. Customers can also make a pit stop to pick up coffee and a pastry before or after their visit in the cat room, but the cafe provides tables and chairs inside and out, which can be used for studying or catching up with friends. The space is open with a minimalist design, and the designated cat room is decorated with a plethora of cat trees and colorful toys.
Feeline Good opened on June 21, and the cats are provided by the Humane Society of North Central Florida. After spending a session with the cats, if a customer wants to adopt one (or two) they can do so and bring home a new pet.
Midpoint Park & Eatery
Located in Gainesville’s innovation district, Midpoint Park & Eatery provides an enjoyable outdoor experience for people of all ages, abilities and diets. While the space itself is small, it packs a punch with four food trucks, plenty of places to sit and string lights that create a relaxing ambience.
The park resides at 931 SW Second Ave. and has ample parking availability in the lot located right next to it. However, the walk to Midpoint from campus is less than 10 minutes, so students could grab a meal between classes or stop by to do homework, especially during the cooler months.
Visitors wishing to get a bite to eat can stop by Da Kine Poke, a Hawaiian-inspired poke bowl food truck that also offers vegetarian and vegan options, Mexi Cocina, which offers authentic Mexican cuisine with menu items like tacos and quesadillas, Keller’s Kitchen, where people can sink their teeth into classic American favorites and last but not least, Plantology, which provides fully vegan comfort food.
Students and families alike can visit Midpoint anytime between 11 a.m. and 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday, making it a perfect place to stop by with friends on a weekend afternoon or pit stop for dinner after a long day of classes.
4th Ave Food Park
The restaurants include Satch Squared, Fehrenbacher's Artisan Sausages, Humblewood Fire, Feliz Flavors, BakerBaker, Sublime Tacos and an Opus Airstream. Food items range from lattes to bagel sandwiches to vegan and vegetarian friendly Mexican tacos making it the perfect place to stop by at any time of the day and with any one with any kind of dietary restrictions or preferences.
Customers can enjoy their food at tables with colored tiles with a view of a mural in the background while listening to live local artists. Pets are welcome, and the large open space makes it safe and fun for people of all ages. This makes it the perfect place to bring family members and friends from home when they come to visit.
If the live music at 4th Ave or Midpoint isn’t enough, Gainesville’s High Dive is dedicated to presenting live music and events, showcasing the talents of many local artists and bands. The music venue is located at 210 SW Second Ave in downtown Gainesville surrounded by several other bars and restaurants.
This Fall, the High Dive is welcoming flipturn, Mayday Parade, Chris Renzema, and Hobo Johnson and The Lovemakers, just to name a few.
Season passes are available for frequent concert-goers each semester, but tickets to individual shows can also be purchased. Beyond music, the High Dive hosts comedy shows and other events like a food truck rally.
The park offers green spaces, benches, tables and sidewalks, which can all be enjoyed with the view of a fountain. The Depot Station sits right next to the park and offers places to eat and drink, and it can also be reserved for events as big as weddings.
The park allows direct access onto the Gainesville-Hawthorne State Trail, which provides bikers, runners and walkers 16 miles of a scenic, somewhat curvy route with overlooks and wildlife along the way.
Depot Park’s vast, open, outdoor space provides a safe way to gather with friends whether for a stroll along the park’s sidewalks or playing a card game on the grass.
Fans of the Gainesville-Hawthorne State Trail might also enjoy a visit to Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park, whether to hike a trail or enjoy a sunset by pulling off to the side of US-441 South.
Less than 10 miles away from campus, the park offers various trails including La Chua, Bolen Bluff and Cone’s Dike. The park is open from 8 a.m. to sunset, and traversing the trails promises beautiful green scenery and a high likelihood of wildlife from deer to bunnies and even bison.
Florida may be flat, but hiking opportunities in Gainesville are not scarce, and Paynes Prairie is proof of that.
Contact Abigail Hasebroock at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @abbeyhasebroock.
Abigail is a second-year journalism major covering university general assignment news for The Alligator. When she’s not catching up on school or reporting, she’s spending time outside, reading or reorganizing her Spotify playlists - usually all at the same time.