Back in 2011, I was a naive law school student starting my first year at UF Law School in Gainesville, FL. 3 years, later I’d know the ins-and-outs of the town that was equal parts charming and grotesque (just keeping it real– if you’ve set foot in the beloved bar, Balls, you’ll feel me). My relationship with the ‘ville was rocky at times, but now when I visit, I’m able to see it with fresh eyes and a new-found appreciation. The weekend before last was UF’s Homecoming, complete with football game against Mizzou. As to be expected, I skipped the actual game in favor of a wine tasting, so I can’t give any tips on great tailgating spots for alums, but this post will explore some of the things that a) didn’t exist when I went to UF or b) I made the grave mistake of overlooking.
If you are looking for something to do beyond Midtown (the heart of the bar scene in Gainesville and home to my favorite college bar-Salty Dog) there are always events being put on by local companies. For example, Swamphead brewery usually has fun events going on, especially in the fall. We saw Uppercrust Bakery was doing a wine/cheese tasting on Saturday. The tastings are usually free, but since Uppercrust is turning 35 this year they were charging $35 which paid for the tasting and a $35 gift card that could be used on anything in the store. We had a great time and came home with way too many croissants and cookies–but seriously, check out their pastries because they are bomb.
The pastries would go perfectly with some coffee and there are no shortage of cute coffee shops in Gainesville. Over Homecoming weekend we went to Maudes, Knowhere Coffee and Curia on the Drag. Maudes is somewhat of an institution but the service is notoriously off-putting and the other two places are kind of forgettable. I recommend Cym or Volta for service with a smile and inventive drinks.
On top of coffee shops, we always love getting our fill of Asian food while in Gainesville. Our favorites are Pho Hanoi and Dragonfly. This time we tried Crane Ramen for the first time and we were really into the vibes, menu, and friendly service. Highly recommend stopping by the next time you are in Gainesville and with its convenient location downtown it’s easy to get to.
I also recommend getting cocktails at the newly opened Sidecar bar. It’s attached to V Pizza and where Vello’s used to be located. The menu is fun and the drinks have that great cocktail ice that makes everything taste better.
If you are looking for a chill lunch option and even vegan options, check out Root & Pecker. Another place that was not opened when I was in school, but I wish it was. My sister said her sandwich was the best she ever had (cue Drake). It has a very farm-to-table vibe and is located right by my top pick for coffee-Cym.
All in all such a solid weekend and it was kinda nice getting back to Cantina for a fish bowl and Tatu for some sake bombs. Gainesville is a place close to many people’s hearts, but I hope this post will give you some new options to try out if you haven’t visited in awhile!
- What college town do you recommend visiting?