Weekend Adventures in the Gainesville Area

At some point during the school year, University of Florida students may find themselves searching for something to do for the upcoming weekend. When you get yourself into a constant cycle of doing school work, working out or going to your job on the weekend, the two days off may begin to fly by before the start of the next week. Taking time to explore a new place and escape from the stress of academics can be the fresh start one needs before your Monday alarm sounds. Some may view Gainesville as a swamp with no entertainment, but the 352 provides numerous opportunities to get out and take advantage of the local area.

Lake Wauburg

One of the perks to paying UF fees is gaining access to amenities such as Lake Wauburg. Located in Micanopy and only minutes from campus, the lake offers outdoor activities whether you go individually or with a group of friends. On the weekends, the South Shore is open from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. (the North Shore is closed until further notice). According to Lake Wauburg’s website, the park offers boating, climbing wall and bouldering grotto, a disc golf course, a sports field, a volleyball court, mountain biking, sailing, stand-up paddle boarding, swimming, and an outdoor team challenge course. In order to enter the facility, all students have to do is present a single Gator 1 Card per vehicle. Carolyn Lightsey, a second-year art history major, ventures over to Lake Wauburg at least twice a semester since she has become a student at UF.

“I love it because it’s free and just such a convenient place to have a relaxing weekend,” Lightsey said. “We also use the paddle boats which is nice because when it’s colder you can stay dry.”

 Lake Wauburg acts as a scenic destination for UF students to get away from the hustle and bustle of campus.

Celebration Pointe

Off of Archer Road lies Celebration Pointe, an up-and-coming shopping and dining venue. In addition to these features, there’s also a Regal Cinema and occasional events. For example, I participated in a 5k run here back in the fall. Students and locals can swing by on a weekend and grab a bite to eat while exploring the various shops and even grabbing a sweet treat at Kilwins. During the holiday season my family visited me, so we drove to Celebration Pointe and admired the light displays and the large colorful Christmas tree. No matter the time of year, Celebration Pointe adds an upscale element to Archer Road and is sure to develop even more in the future.

Haile Farmers Market

If you’re looking to get outdoors without the hard work of boating or biking at Lake Wauburg, the Haile Farmers Market is the perfect alternative. Vendors from the Gainesville area come together to sell crafts and food for those who attend. According to its website, the Haile Farmers Market is open every Saturday from 8:30 a.m. to 12 p.m. The website also offers recipes and a list of the produce that is currently in season. Every Saturday during the market there is live music being played. Abigail Putnam, a first-year agricultural education and communication major, likes watching students, families and vendors interacting with each other.

 “I really enjoy seeing everyone meet the farmers of products that they’re buying,” Putnam said.

Depot Park

Depot Park is a free area that appeals to families and more due to its many amenities on site. The destination’s website states that it originated as the remains of a rail yard but now houses a playground, grotto, general store, promenade, conservation area, pavilion and the Cade Museum for locals to enjoy. Gainesville Regional Utilities (GRU) excavated over 147,000 tons of contaminated soil due to pollution-related activities taking place. Since this renovation, Depot Park has become the perfect place to enjoy the outdoors with friends or even curl up with a good book on its hill.

The Gainesville area provides UF students with the opportunity to get out of their dorms and explore the beauty the city has to offer. Sometimes self-care can be as easy as making a small adventure down the street and exploring an unfamiliar area.