It can be hard to choose what to do in Gainesville if you have little time. The weather is nice and warm, there are countless outdoor places to visit, so much is happening on campus and the cute plazas scattered around offer tasty dining and fashionable stores. This is a list of what I would do in Gainesville if I only had 24 hours:
1. To begin the day, I would head over to Luke’s New York Bagel Shop to get a fresh, warm bagel. This bagel spot is perfect for those on the go because you order at the window and get your food brought to you. They offer a variety of bagels, any cream cheese flavor you can imagine and can make your bagel into a breakfast sandwich. I’m not a coffee drinker, but I’ve heard that they have amazing coffee too.
2. After eating my favorite breakfast, I would go on a walk in Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park. This is a drive away from campus, but definitely worth the trip. The nature park is full of a variety of wildlife and natural beauty. It is so cool to see alligators, bison, horses, deer and all of the birds that call Paynes Prairie home. I would go on a shorter walk just because it can be a little buggy.
3. After completing my walk, I would head over to Butler Plaza. Whether you want to get a tasty meal or adorable apparel, Butler Plaza has it all. Cheesecake Factory, P.F. Chang’s, Ford’s Garage, BurgerFi, Hopdoddy Burger Bar, Bonefish Grill and 4 Rivers Smokehouse are just a few of the many dining options perfect for a nice lunch. This plaza is booming and continuing to grow. Aerie, Sephora, Narcissus, Pink Narcissus, Kendra Scott and Agapanthus are a few of my favorite fashion, home and beauty stores in the area. Ending the visit with a stop at Kilwins would be the cherry on top. I recommend cake batter in a waffle cone!
4. You can’t go to Gainesville without visiting the bookstore. Located in the Reitz Union, the bookstore is an easy place to visit on campus. No matter if you’re a prospective student, current student, alum or fan, nobody can have too much Gator gear. UF has one of the most incredible college bookstores due to its variety of products and stylish designs. I didn’t even know there could be that many Gator-themed products. Countless popular brands partner with UF and sell products, such as Lululemon, Boys Lie, Yeti, Champion, Nike, Johnnie-O, League and more. Remember to get a gift for the other Gator fans in your life too!
5. Put on your new Gator gear and attend a sports game. No matter the time of year, I can almost guarantee that some team will be competing in the Swamp. Seeing the Gators play in person is an incredible experience. After all, the Florida Gators did report that we won six SEC Team Titles in 2022-2023. There is so much school spirit, and the crowds are full of excited fans. Volleyball games in the fall and gymnastics meets in the spring are my favorite sporting events to attend. Football games are a lot of fun too.
6. After watching the Gators win, I would go downtown for a nice meal. OAK, Amelia’s, The Top and Dragonfly Sushi are my favorite dining spots. These restaurants are on the pricier side but are worth every penny. I remember driving up to Gainesville with my family to visit my older siblings when I was younger, and that is when I got hooked on Dragonfly Sushi. The food is incredible.
7. I don’t know about you, but I am still obsessed with frozen yogurt. Even though Yogurtology (my favorite place ever) recently closed, Menchie’s has delicious frozen yogurt with so many toppings. Frozen yogurt would be the best way to end an activity-packed day in Gainesville.
I hope my ideal 24 hours in Gainesville can give you an idea of what to do on your next visit. Whether you’re here for work, to tour campus, to visit a student or to cheer on the Gators as an alum, Gainesville has many activities to offer that you can explore. Spending time in the outdoors, shopping and eating delicious food make up my perfect day. Good luck planning!