Gator gamedays are holidays in Gainesville. Therefore, residents and visitors alike should know the best places to observe the Gators battle on the field, even if they can’t score some tickets.
1. A tailgate
Everything smells like charcoal and sweat. You pull out a pop-up tent, a cooler full of beer, hook up a TV, and surround yourself with family and friends. Tailgates are the nostalgic younger cousin of college football. These gameday festivities range from a modest crowd in the bed of a truck to fifty people gathered around an RV with multiple flat screens. Dorito dust on one hand and a Natural Light in the other just feels like college football, right?
2. The Swamp Restaurant
Swamp is the obvious destination for any fall Saturday. After all, it is named after the glorious UF stadium itself. The food and drinks are a bit overpriced, sure, but this Gainesville is always overflowing with Gator fans when those cleats hit the field. The patio and top deck are perfect spots for gameday people-watching, as students and families brave the Florida heat as they make the trek to Ben Hill Griffin Stadium.
3. The Social GNV
Social is bursting at the seams on Gator gameday. Right off of West University Avenue’s main drag and in the heart of Midtown, Social’s air conditioning is a life-saver. Their mac and cheese? A thing of dreams. The front half of Social is where you bring your parents. There may be a giant, circular bar in the middle of the room, but your mom’s going to love their bloody mary - blue cheese stuffed olives and a straw made of sausage. Oh yeah. Plus, from front, to back, to rooftop; The place is lined with TVs, and each time the Gators’ score, the place erupts.
4. Mother’s Pub and Grill
Mother’s is the quintessential sports bar. Period. From the buzzing TV lights bathing hightops covered in pints of beer and chicken wings, to the ever-dedicated fans who rely on Mother’s multi-screen experience to stay up to date on the Gators and beyond. When it comes to Gator gameday, though? Prepare to drown in a sea of orange and blue.
5. Salty Dog Saloon
The Salty Dog Saloon, or “Salty” as frequenters call it, is that perfect midpoint between your dad’s favorite jukebox joint and your fill of Midtown madness. Have a Zipperhead, Salty’s signature, sweet and chugable cocktail, every time the Gators score. You might stay relatively sober this season, but that’s your prerogative.
6. Gator’s Dockside
Gator’s Dockside is way out on Newberry Road, so once again, far enough away from campus to avoid the bumper-to-bumper madness. This is a great way to keep and eye on those competitive away games, especially if you’ve got a big group of hungry friends. Gator’s Dockside owns its motto, “Wings, Ribs, Seafood, and Sports.” Sounds about right.
7. Balls Bookstore
Balls is the legendary hole-in-the-wall your parents are unable to question on your bank receipts. It may seem a little odd to enter Balls in the light of day, but put aside your least classy memories and step inside. This dingy Midtown staple always has cheap shots and Gators on the screens. Tell your parents you skipped the game to go to “Da Bookstore.” They’ll be so proud.