Gainesville is the largest city and the county seat in Alachua County, and has a population of approximately 130,000. It is the quintessential “College Town” with a dynamic and growing population. Nature preserves dominate the area, abundant with wildlife (birds, alligators) and manatees are found at the local Springs where one can go tubing. Downtown is very quaint and historic (approx. 5 min cab ride from campus) and is home to the Hippodrome (Performing Arts Center) and a number of unique shops and cafes. There are many options for restaurant dining and to enjoy warm evening weather on a patio. Downtown Gainesville offers a multicultural array of dining experiences, including Dragonfly Sushi & Sake Company, serving contemporary izakaya and tapas-style Japanese pub fare, the OAK (aka Original American Kitchen) for those seeking American-style cuisine and assortment of micro-brewed products, Emiliano’s Cafe serving Latin fusion fare ranging from Mexican to Spanish, as well as specialty beverages such as mojitos, and Harry’s Seafood bar and Grille which features Cajun, Creole & Southern cuisine in a friendly atmosphere. Downtown Gainesville also hosts a farmer’s market and free music concerts at Bo Diddley Plaza, which features local blues and jazz artists.
A great place to see wildlife is La Chua Trail, where alligators, wild deer, bison, and plenty of birds abound.