Saturday’s USF-UF football game will have USF students scouring Gainesville – some for the first time – and wondering what else the college town has to offer.
Even with tailgating and postgame festivities, travelers should have free time if they’re not leaving right after the game. Luckily, the area has plenty worth exploring in good food and bad movies, places to learn and punk sensibilities.
The Oracle suggests some of the best places to visit around Gainesville.
Florida Museum of Natural History
Getting to UF early means avoiding incoming game traffic, but it also provides an opportunity to look at another college’s campus.
The on-campus museum hosts permanent galleries that examine the state’s geographic locations and educate about local fossils, marine creatures and northern Florida.
Two exhibits’ main players are insects, as “CSI: Crime Scene Insects” describes how bugs aid in forensics while the butterfly rainforest lets visitors walk around hundreds of butterflies – with releases hourly from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays.
Admission is free for the permanent exhibits and $11 with any Florida school student ID to see these two exhibits.
Afterward, take a walk around the college’s vibrant green outdoors while others rush into congested stadium traffic.
Flaco’s Cuban Bakery
When students are choosing tailgating take-out or just where to get a quick bite, they should consider venturing into one of University Avenue’s restaurants – with Flaco’s Cuban fare standing out.
The restaurant’s best sandwich options are the traditional Cuban – which can be eaten early or even re-grilled if you brought a tailgating grill – or the Sunshine tofu crumble.
Flaco’s Cuban Bakery also remains open past 2 a.m., so students can always wander back to its 200 W. University Ave. and grab arepas, pastries and coffees later on.
Of course, it isn’t the only dining option. Students can easily grab a 18-inch pizza for a whole group at Leonardo’s by the Slice, or one of Gator Dawgs dozens of hot dogs – even the Ghost Chili Dawg if they think they can handle its pepper paste.
All three restaurants open at 11 a.m.
Civic Media Center & Library
Although its modest 433 S. Main St. downtown location might not suggest it, Civic Media Center is actually one of the country’s largest alternative libraries and a great one at that.
The collection includes more than 7,000 special interest books, including the library of 93-year-old Florida activist Stetson Kennedy.
Yet, visitors can also comb over hundreds of punk zines – several from Tampa and Gainesville – and progressive-minded media one might be hard-pressed to find in the average library.
Any students interested in visiting the Civic Media Center better plan in advance, though – hours on Fridays and Saturdays are 2 to 6 p.m., which could easily conflict with the football game.
If you want to catch the Gainesville nightlife after the game, Boca Fiesta – or “Mouth Party” – on 232 SE First St. is a must-visit for its eclectic taco and burrito varieties and late-night hours.
Opened by former Against Me! drummer Warren Oakes, the restaurant also hosts shows and Monday night movie events – and always offers a “Weird Meat of the Month” special. September’s selection is elk top round with Mezcal BBQ sauce and jicama slaw.
Vegetarians shouldn’t run away in fear, however, since Boca Fiesta also offers excellent tempeh burritos and guacamole that’s mashed tableside.
Finally, the restaurant stays open until the wee hours of 2 a.m. and its bar sells margaritas and draft beers to keep drinkers happy.
Hippodrome State Theatre
Just one block away from Boca Fiesta on 25 SE. Second Place is Hippodrome State Theatre – a location for plays as well as independent and cult films.
The theater will show Argentinean procedural thriller “The Secret in Their Eyes” at 9 p.m., but Saturday’s biggest draw for most students would be “The Incredible 2-Headed Transplant” at 11:30 p.m.
The 1971 film follows mad scientist Girard inexplicably attaching a murderer’s head onto his caretaker’s son. It has a current rating of 2.5 out of 10 from the Internet Movie Database’s user reviews, and is described as having “shoddy effects, a cheesy … psychedelic score … and laughably bad dialogue” by Hippodrome’s own website.
Admission is $5 and, if it makes the film any more palatable, the theater also has a fully stocked bar with drink specials.
Students looking for some Gainesville food after midnight or just a pick-up before the drive back home should try Karma Cream’s vegan-friendly variety of ice creams, cupcakes and coffee drinks.
Although the dessert place offers vegan ice cream flavors like lemon and cardamom, it has organic dairy ice cream as well – both served in bowls with metal spoons to feel more like home.
If you’re just worn out and want coffee from somewhere that doesn’t rhyme with “Barstucks,” you can get fair-trade coffee and espresso frozen blends while using the store’s Wi-Fi to reach Tampa friends.
Karma Cream is located downtown in 1025 W. University Ave. and is open until 3 a.m.
Ginnie Springs Outdoors
Although Ginnie Springs Outdoors is actually in the town of High Springs, the town is only about a half hour away from Gainesville. So, if you’re staying overnight or lodging with a friend at UF, visiting the park early Sunday makes for an ideal nature trip.
Located along the Santa Fe River with 500-year-old trees, Ginnie Springs Outdoors is a popular place for college students to tube down clear, 72-degree waters.
The park also rents canoes and boasts picnic pavilions, so pack a lunch. Admission costs $12, and the park is located on 7300 NE. Ginnie Springs Road.