With graduation less than 50 days away, it’s time to start thinking back on your last four years. Time to reminisce on the things you’ve done and realize all the things you still have to do.
The good news is you still have time to check those items off your bucket list. The bad news is you have less than 50 days to do so. You got this, though; I believe in you. For those of you who aren’t graduating just yet, congratulations! You have more time than the rest of us to check these off your list.
Here are the 30 things you have to do before you walk across that Stephen C. O’Connell Center stage.
1. Bat cages
Yes, this is something everyone says you need to do, and they’re not lying. Once you get passed the pee smell (yikes!), it’s really a beautiful site. The bat houses are located across the street from Lake Alice, and at sunset hundreds of bats fly out of their houses. The contrast of colors between the black of the bats and the orange (sometimes pink) skies is breathtaking.
2. Football stadium at night
The legality of sneaking into Ben Hill Griffin Stadium after 10 p.m. any given day is a little questionable – but hey, you’re graduating in less than 50 days.
3. Paynes Prairie
Whether you’re an outdoorsy person or not, Paynes Prairie is a MUST. Try to spot an alligator in the wild (even though you can see them on campus at least once a week), scope out some bison or count how many of the almost 300 bird species you can see. Not to mention, you can get a cute sunset picture for the Insta at the observation deck.
4. Get a free shirt
Just by going to the first football game of the season (which you should totes do anyway), you can get a free shirt. Hit up RecStravaganza and check off the six things on their list for a free RecSports shirt. (I did it every year!)
5. Visit (and have a drink in) every bar in Midtown
Each bar has its specials. Zipperhead at Salty’s. Sake bomb at Tatu. Rum bucket at JJ’s. Slushie at Fat’s. Rolling rock pitcher at Rowdy’s. Vegas Bomb at Social.
Satchel’s has some of the best pizza ~ever~, not just in Gainesville. The local favorite gives you the opportunity to eat in a van, under a pane or even in a greenhouse, surrounded by stained glass windows and local art.
7. Arcade Bar
90s arcade games. Three floors. Three bars. Need I say more?
8. Attend the Florida-Georgia game
Also known as the world’s largest cocktail party, attending the Florida-Georgia game is a must — however, it’s in October. So, if you haven’t gone yet, you’re just going to have to meet all your Gators in Jacksonville in a few months. Yes, even after graduating.
9. Frat hop
Something else that you definitely could’ve started freshman year, but hey, it’s never too late. Find your fave group of guy friends, and stick to them, but get to know the others, too.
10. Support your Gators at every sporting event at least once
UF has a lot of sports besides football and gymnastics. Go to a baseball game, a basketball game, even a tennis match. Cheer on your team where it counts, because sadly, we are not a football school.
11. Graffiti on the 34th Street wall
Grab your friends. Perfect a design with purpose. Plaster it across the 34th street wall. The best part? It’s completely legal! Don’t expect your design to be on there for more than a day though.
12. Lake Wauburg
We go to school in Florida. It gets HOT. While pools can help with that, sort of, Lake Wauburg is even better. AND you can do water activities like paddle boarding, sailing and boating.
13. Springs, springs, springs
The amount of springs we have within an hour (or two, max) from us is insane. Three of the most popular ones are Ginnie, Ichetucknee and Blue Springs. Get your girl squad together and ride out to one of these springs to cool off on those hot days.
14. Expand your taste buds with Krishna Lunch
For those of you who are particularly picky eaters, Krishna Lunch may not be for you, but you shouldn’t knock it till you try it. I’ve heard the best day is spaghetti day, a.k.a. Wednesday.
15. Midnight Cookies
Yes, people will say cookiegazm is better, but they’re lying. Or just wrong. Midnight Cookies is the OG late-night snack, and their range of flavors is to die for. The s’mores are the best in my personal opinion, but the birthday cake is a close second.
16. Later Gator Flip
The Later Gators’ popularity may have dwindled slightly because of Uber and Lyft, but the buses still run every night. In order to graduate as a true Gator, you need to grab on to those bars and flip!
17. Gator Growl/Gator Nights
While both of these are primarily for freshmen, Gator Nights more so than Gator Growl, but regardless, they’re both events you should attend at least once. Gator Nights takes place every Friday night at the Reitz, and Gator Growl is the Friday of homecoming week.
18. Bob’s River Place
Bob’s River Place stands right on the Suwannee River and is a private residence that the owner has opened to the public. The property has all sorts of tree houses, rope swings, water slides and jumping platforms, just to name a few. Check out this hidden gem, reopening March 31.
If there’s anything Gainesville has more than springs and Gator fans, it’s breweries – at least by square foot. We have four, and for those of you who, like me, don’t like beer, each brewery has something for you, too.
20. Union Street Farmer’s Market
Every Wednesday night from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m., Bo Diddley Community Plaza is covered with tents put up by local farmers. Head over to downtown and pick everything fresh for dinner that night.
21. Downtown Festival and Art Show
Once a year, downtown Gainesville gets converted into a full-blown art festival with live music, performing arts and so much good food.
22. Food Truck Rally at High Drive
Downtown Gainesville is full of fun things to do. Every semester, the High Dive puts on a Food Truck Rally totally free of cost for the attendees. Not to mention, they have outdoor bars!
23. Backyard/Palomino’s on Fridays
Friday nights used to be reserved for mid. Now they’re reserved for Palomino Pool Hall and the Backyard – at least they should be. Palomino’s is a chill pool hall next to the Hippodrome, but for those who like to party it up on a Friday, the Backyard is connected to Palomino’s, and it’s wonderful.
24. Downtown in general
Downtown Gainesville in general is just a really cool place to be. There are so many delicious restaurants and hole-in-the-wall bars that you never would’ve come across had you not just walked around the few blocks that make up the area. Find your secret place.
25. Norman Tunnel Graffiti
Surprise! There’s another place to do graffiti in Gainesville. This one may not be as legal, but honestly, no one’s really going to stop you. Also, it’s really dope because you can spray paint whatever you want, without having to create an intricate design – for the less artistic ones, myself included.
26. DNA bridge at night
As cool as this bridge looks just above 13th Street during the day, imagine it at night lit up.
27. Go to a show at the Phillips Center or the Hippodrome
Broadway shows and professional dance and music companies tour at the Phillips Center all the time. No, sadly Hamilton hasn’t yet, but we all have hopes. @Lin_Manuel, make it happen, please.
28. Day trips
Apart from all the springs, there are so many places you can visit for the day. Jacksonville, Daytona, St. Augustine, Orlando and Tampa are all within two hours of Gainesville. So the next time you’re bored, grab your friends and explore one of these cities instead of sitting around.
29. Go up Century Tower
This one is going to take some long-ish-term planning. Some of the only people allowed up are the music kids. Find one that’s taking carillon studio (which is the class of students who play the music in Century Tower). Befriend them. Convince them to take you up to “watch them play,” but really you just want to be able to say you climbed to the top of one of UF’s most iconic buildings.
30. Get a selfie with President Fuchs
He’s precious and super involved around campus and beyond approachable. You can do it.
If you’re worried because your time at UF is coming to a close and you haven’t done more than half of these things, don’t be. I haven’t either, and most graduates probably haven’t either. You have more time than you think, and honestly, UF isn’t going anywhere. You can always come back.