College Towns: Gainesville, Florida

Learn more about Gainesville, Florida - home of the University of Florida.

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The Town: Gainesville, Florida

One of National Geographic Adventure’s “best places to live and play,” Gainesville has a population of 114,000. Named a Tree City by the Arbor Day Foundation, Payness Prairie lies south of Gainseville. Humid and warm year-round, the rainiest season is summer.

The School: University of Florida

The University of Florida is the second-largest college in the state, with 32,000 undergraduate and 18,000 graduate students. As you approach campus, you’ll notice Century Tower, a tribute to all of the UF alums who died in World War I and World War II. The Food and Agricultural Sciences program at the highly regarded university was rated No. 1 in the country by the National Science Foundation.

Whether you’re staying on campus or looking to take a day trip, there’s plenty of activities for you to enjoy.

Both the men’s football and basketball programs are annual contenders for the national title, and each has won two NCAA championships in the past decade. In the 2006-2007 academic year, UF held the distinction of holding each title, defeating Ohio State University in both contests.

What to Do

Whether you’re staying on campus or looking to take a day trip, there’s plenty of activities for you to enjoy. The beach is only an hour away, and you can take a day trip to DisneyWorld in Orlando, only an hour and a half from the UF campus.

Gainesville enjoys a lively music scene, and many major acts have come out of the town, most notably Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. Each year, the city hosts The Fest, a three-day rock ‘n’ roll music festival.

Take a break from the rigors of your coursework and go for a hike in the 81 acres of wildlife sanctuary that accompanies the campus. Or take a walk by the 34th Street Wall, covered in paintings by local graffiti artists.

And of course, when you’re a national championship contender every year, you can expect nearly 100,000 fans to flock to Ben Hill Griffin Stadium for football games.

Where to Eat and Drink

For a little bit of everything, check out the Top. A fun, funky setting, there’s everything from basic diner food (breakfast), traditional Southern comfort food (macaroni and cheese), and high-end fine dining (steaks and chops).

Did You Know?

When the Florida Gators won the 1996 national championship in football, both the head coach (Steve Spurrier) and quarterback (Danny Wuerffel) had Heisman trophies to their name, given each year to the country’s most outstanding individual player.

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