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Articles Tagged "Gainesville"

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Conch Fritters

Conch shells are thought to contain the sound of the ocean, and they also contain a unique form of meat. Known as "the escargot of Florida," conch fritters are one of the state's famous foods that can be found at these top restaurants. 

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Do you love exploring the diverse, unique natural beauty that you can only find in Florida? This is the perfect time of year to plan your next hiking trip on the Florida Trail, which stretches for more than 1,500 miles from the Gulf Islands National Seashore to the Big Cypress National Preserve. The Northern Region of the trail is the perfect place to start your next adventure. We've got all the exciting details on what you'll find on the Northern Region of the Florida Trail.

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Gainesville, FL is no stranger to holiday spirit! The home to the University of Florida, Gainesville and its residents don't slack when it comes to celebrating Christmas with ornate displays and festive atmosphere. Here's where you can see the best Christmas lights in Gainesville, FL.

Butler Town Center Friday Night Lights

Every Friday night through December 18, you can catch a live lighting of the Butler Town Center's Christmas tree. The event features special sales, letters to Santa, giveaways, and more. You can even tune in live on Facebook or Instagram if you can't make it in person!

Celebrate D Holidays at Depot Park

Venture out to Depot Park for a stunning light display featuring more than 200,000 LED lights. Wander through the festive wonderland while enjoying tasty snacks and drinks provided by local vendors. The best part? You can visit any day until December 30.

Celebration Pointe Holiday Lights

One of Gainesville's more popular destinations, Celebration Pointe, has its impressive holiday light display hanging until December 31. Chances are pretty good you'll be visiting Celebration Pointe anyway, so why not enjoy the festive lighting while you're there?

Lights on 20th Avenue

Lights on 20th Avenue is the masterful work of one man and his family. Logan Euler, a self-proclaimed Christmas lights maniac, has been creating this extravagant display of lights, decorations, and music for years, and the show only gets better each year.

31st Annual Duck Pond Lighting at North Florida Regional Medical Center

For the 31st year in a row, the North Florida Regional Medical Center kicks off the holiday season with its 90,000+ light ceremony! Unlike previous years, the event will be broadcast virtually as opposed to an in-person ceremony. Guests are still invited to visit the campus and see the display for themselves throughout the month of December, however.


There's an interesting feeling of civic pride you feel when you discover a celebrity you know and love is from your hometown. But for every well-known celeb from the Sunshine State, there's another handful of famous people from Florida you didn't know were from here.

The Allman Brothers Band, Lynyrd Skynyrd, & More | Jacksonville, FL

Jacksonville may as well one of the capitals of Southern Rock given the number of legendary bands from the genre it's produced. Lynyrd Skynyrd of Freebird fame, The Allman Brothers Band, Blackfoot, Molly Hatchet, and .38 Special all hail from the Bold City. Rock bands continued to emerge from Jacksonville during the 90s and 2000s as well. You probably know Limp Bizkit hails from the First Coast, but so do Cold, Yellowcard, Evergreen Terrace, Shinedown, and The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus.

Maya Rudolph | Gainesville, FL

Gainesville was home to a famous rocker of its own (the late, great Tom Petty), but a well-known comedian also hails from Gator Country. Maya Rudolph was born in Gainesville in 1972. The famous actress was a prominent cast member on Saturday Night Live and has starred in several feature films, including Bridesmaids, Inherent Vice, and Big Hero 6.

Bob Ross | Daytona Beach, FL

America's favorite televised painter just so happens to be one of the most famous people from Daytona Beach, FL. That's right, Bob Ross was born in the city in 1942. He served 20 years in the Air Force before eventually becoming the honey-voiced master of zen with a paintbrush we all knew and loved.

Chipper Jones | DeLand, FL

The popular Atlanta Braves slugger hails from DeLand, FL. Chipper Jones also fits as a famous person from Daytona Beach, FL, too; he was raised in the Daytona Beach metro area. That being said, he got his start in baseball playing little league in the DeLand area.

Wayne Brady | Orlando, FL

Despite being born in Georgia, Wayne Brady is still one of the most famous people from Orlando, FL as he spent the majority of his young life in the Central Florida city. The likable improv comedian got his start with Orlando improv troupe SAK Comedy Club, where he developed skills that would catapult him into the national spotlight on TV shows like Whose Line Is It Anyway?.

Mandy Moore | Longwood, FL

Mandy Moore is one of the few famous people from Longwood, FL. Her family moved there when she was two years old, and it's where she spent the majority of her formative years. Mandy Moore got her start as a singer with a handful of chart-topping hits to her name before taking on roles as an actor later in her career.

Kate Upton | Melbourne, FL

The eye-catching model moved to Melbourne, FL as a kid in 1999, where she attended Holy Trinity Episcopal Academy and even competed nationally as a young equestrian. She later built her career as a head-turning model and actress.

Jim Morrison | Melbourne, FL

Jim Morrison is, without question, one of the most famous people from Florida. Hailing from Melbourne, FL, Morrison made his name as the front man for rock band The Doors. His vocals, lyrics, and memorable live performances have left a lasting impression not just on his fans, but on the entire rock genre for decades after his untimely passing.


What once was a relatively obscure trend among small populations has grown into a full-blown lifestyle adopted by celebrities, professional athletes, and regular joes alike. Veganism's rise as a lifestyle choice has, in fact, made it easier for people to go vegan thanks to a great proliferation of vegan-friendly eateries and grocery stores – especially in cities dominated by a younger population, like the collegiate town of Gainesville. From trendy neighborhood spots to unique cultural cafes, here are some of the best vegan-friendly restaurants in Gainesville, FL.


Located in a historic Gulf Oil building, Civilization proudly touts its locally sourced ingredients as well as its impressive cultural footprint. Their menu features food from five continents, and every Wednesday they offer a new special from a different country. Civilization also boasts an entirely separate vegan menu full of appetizers like onion rings and delicious entrees like Thai Green Curry with Mushrooms.

The Top

To put it simply, if you're a cool kid, you've been to The Top in downtown Gainesville. The Top serves up fine cuisine without pretension or stuffiness in a hip setting full of fun people. You're treated to delicious meals like eggplant rollatini (filled with house-made cashew cream cheese) or coconut panko-fried tofu. If you're in a handheld mood, check out the black bean or falafel burgers served on whole wheat Kaiser buns.

East End Eatery

East End Eatery prides itself on its familial atmosphere, eco-friendly ingredients and practices, and home-cooked breakfast and lunch. The all-day breakfast and Sunday brunch menus feature items like huevos rancheros with tofu eggs and vegan cheese, while the lunch menu is full of tasty options like a buffalo tempeh wrap with vegan blue cheese.

Daily Green

This downtown eatery commits to environmentally friendly practices so much, they put green in their name! All the drink cups are recyclable, they cook all their food with Energy Star appliances, and they give all food scraps to local farms from which they source ingredients. Meanwhile, the menu is full of vegan-friendly delights, from dairy-free waffles to tempeh sandwiches.

Reggae Shack Café

Who says vegan food can't have a little kick to it? The folks at Reggae Shack Café put Jamaican spins on classic vegan meals – or perhaps they put a vegan spin on classic Jamaican meals? You won't ponder the question for long when you're chowing down on handmade seitan steak simmered in a sweet Caribbean sauce with veggies or spicy tofu with the heat cranked up to 11.


233 days. That's how long it's been since the Florida Gators last played football. After an agonizingly long offseason, the Gators will finally don the orange and blue this Saturday for the first time in 2019. If you're a member of Gator Nation, this day couldn't have come soon enough. After all, Florida football isn't just a fun hobby – it's a way of life. If you subscribe to that idea, then you'll likely feel a deep connection with these seven things only true Florida Gators fans will understand.

Orange & Blue

They're more than just school colors – they're your very lifeblood. Bright, snappy, and vibrant, orange and blue perfectly capture the spirit of UF as well as the Gators' standout reputation on the field. Saturdays during football season see the entire town of Gainesville awash in orange and blue. The colors are even part of a call-and-response chant in the stadium on gamedays!

The Holy Trinity of Quarterbacks

Steve Spurrier. Danny Wuerffel. Tim Tebow. These guys are Gators legends. Each quarterback won the Heisman Trophy, college football's most coveted individual award, and two of them (Wuerffel and Tebow) led the Gators to a National Championship. Spurrier, meanwhile, cemented his own UF legacy by becoming the program's head coach and introducing an explosive offense that would dominate the SEC in the '90s (it was Spurrier at the helm when Wuerffel and the Gators won their first National Championship in 1996). You can find bronze statues of each icon standing outside the west side of Ben Hill Griffin Stadium.

Gamedays in The Swamp

Plenty of teams boast strong homefield advantage, but none can quite match Florida's. The Gators call Ben Hill Griffin Stadium home, or more intimidatingly: The Swamp. Pre-game festivities in the stadium are electric, amping up the home crowd with intensity until the team storms the field, heralded by the legendary call of "Heeeeeeeeeeeere come the Gators!" Between the deafening crowd and the oppressive heat, opposing teams rarely get comfortable. The hype video that plays before games puts it best: It's the Swamp, where only Gators get out alive.

Two Bits

Remember those pre-game festivities we talked about last paragraph? Two Bits is one of the most beloved. Way back in 1949, George E. Edmondson, Jr. spontaneously kicked off the chant to fire up the limp crowd. The team won and fans were so in love with the chant, Edmondson continued leading it during every game. Soon after, Edmondson would be asked by the university to lead the cheer from the field prior to kickoff. It's a simple chant: "Two bits! Four bits! Six bits! A dollar! All for the Gators, stand up and holler!" but it's mighty effective in pumping up the home crowd.

We are the Boys from Old Florida

Between the third and fourth quarter of every Florida home game, fans interlock their arms, sway back and forth, and sing this classic pep tune. The lyrics celebrate the camaraderie and unifying power of not just the Gator Nation, but the state of Florida itself. Even if you don't know the words, it's easy to sway and enjoy the tradition all the same!

The Gator Walk

Roughly two and a half hours before kickoff of every home game, fans can travel to the north end of the stadium to cheer on the team and coaches as they disembark from their buses and head to the locker room. It's an exciting pre-game tradition that you should experience at least once.

The Chomp

The Chomp is a great celebration move, to be sure. But it's also a unifying force, a communicative symbol that immediately says "We are the same," to other fans. The Chomp is simple: hold your arms in front of you, right over left, lock them at the elbows, and bring your hands together in a vertical clapping motion – just like the jaws of an alligator.


When you think of Gainesville, FL, the first association you probably make is the University of Florida. It makes sense – UF is one of the nation's top public universities, and it just so happens to reside in a pretty small town.

If there's a second association you'd make, though, it should be Gainesville's abundant natural beauty and life. From dense blankets of maples, palms, and oak trees to the miles of swamp and marshlands in and around the city, Gainesville is rich with picturesque Floridian beauty. Even better is how easily accessible it all is! No matter where you are, you'll always be close to some of the state's finest trails and parks. Pack your comfy shoes and immerse yourself in nature with these amazing hiking trails in Gainesville, FL.

La Chua Trail

The La Chua Trail winds through Paynes Prairie, one of Florida's most diverse nature preserves. Often associated with the vast, interminable plains of the west, wild horses and bison roam freely through Paynes Prairie, and the La Chua Trail offers countless opportunities to spot these animals in their natural habitat.

That's not all; along the boardwalk trail and especially on the dike to the watchtower at the end, you'll spot anywhere from one to two dozen alligators sunbathing or floating in the water. If you're spooked by the idea of being so close to gators without any barriers – no fences here, and it's not uncommon to see gators on the actual hiking trail! – La Chua Trail might seem intimidating. Conquer that fear, however, and you'll be treated to an amazing hiking experience.

hiking trails in Gainesville, FL Sunbathing gators at La Chua Trail | Photo: Arkon Soikaew

Sweetwater Wetlands Park

Much like La Chua Trail, Sweetwater Wetlands Park is another great trail for wildlife watchers. Alligators roam freely here, as do the many snakes that make up the area's healthy reptile population. Various birds take up residence in Sweetwater, like coots and limpkins. Sweetwater offers up to 3.5 miles of hiking along various trails, with offshoot paths occurring frequently throughout the area.

Gainesville-Hawthorne State Trail

The Gainesville-Hawthorne State Trail tells a story as you walk it. Stretched out across 16 miles with passages through Paynes Prairie and many other points of interest, this winding trail reveals old railbeds transformed by time into verdant leisurely trails. As you hike past landmarks like concrete mileage and whistle markers, you'll gain a deeper understanding of the history permeating the area.

Mill Creek Preserve West

Driving along the curtains of pine forests of Mill Creek Preserve is one thing; hiking through them is another experience altogether. Trek through the southernmost American beech forest and marvel at the ancient trees whose limbs have outstretched over the landscape for untold time. Two trails comprise nearly five miles of hiking, giving you the freedom to choose the route that suits you.

Devil's Millhopper

Given its petrifying name, you might think this trail would be a Herculean trial. In fact, the name belongs to the park's defining feature: a 120-foot deep and 500-foot wide sinkhole. The trail here pushes through dense forests of trees before opening up to a set of staircases which spiral down into the sinkhole. The journey ends at an observation deck overlooking the bottom of the sinkhole.

hiking trails in Gainesville, FL The view from the bottom of Devil's Millhopper

Watermelon Pond

Hiking through the wide-open prairies of Watermelon Pond lends a sense of liberating solitude and tranquility that's hard to find. It's one of the drier hikes in the area (an unfortunate side effect of continued development), though you'll be treated to a string of panoramic views of the seemingly boundless prairielands.


After a chilly winter, we think we speak for all Gainesville-ians (and Floridians, for that matter) when we say welcome back, spring! Now that spring sunshine and warmer temperatures are becoming the norm again, there are plenty of reasons to get outside and explore all the wonder the city has to offer. So put the long sleeves back in the closet and go check out these outdoor events in Gainesville, FL.

The Great Inflatable Race April 6, 9:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. 3100 NE 39th Ave., Gainesville, FL 32609

How do you make a run for charity even better? Add inflatable obstacles! Bring the whole family out to this fun run and a have a blast bouncing around the custom-designed course.

Santa Fe College's 50th Annual Spring Arts Festival April 6, 9:00 a.m. – 5:30 p.m. & April 7, 12:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. 111 E University Ave., Gainesville, FL 32601

Santa Fe's Spring Arts Festival is one of the three largest annual events in Gainesville, and it's easy to see why. Set amid the picturesque homes in the Northeast Gainesville Historic District, this festival features live music, dance performances, and of course, tons of dazzling local art.

Springs Celebration and O'Leno Ole Chili Cookoff April 6, 8:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. 410 SE Oleno Park Rd., High Springs, FL 32643

This sponsored event features kids' activities, environmental exhibits, art vendors, live music, and more. But the real star of this event is the chili cookoff. Get your best chili recipe ready to take on the rest or brave the spices as a taste-tester. Either way, you're guaranteed a good time.

Watson Annual Easter Egg Hunt April 13, 10:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m. 120 SW 130th Way, Newberry, FL 32669

Watson's Tioga office is holding its annual Easter egg hunt, offering loads of fun for kids and parents alike. Kids of all ages can hunt for Easter eggs, play in bounce houses, or participate in a series of fun games like the Rabbit Hole Maze or Rabbit Hole Toss. There will also be face painting and treats including snow cones and cookies.

Gainesville Garden Club Marketplace April 13, 9:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. 1350 NW 75th St., Gainesville, FL 32605

Come for the beautiful gardens on the property, stay for the tasty food, local artisans, vintage wares, and so much more. Admission is free, and any proceeds from sales will benefit the Gainesville Garden Club's philanthropic endeavors.

3rd Annual Great Gainesville Car Show April 13, 9:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. 111 E University Ave., Gainesville, FL 32601

Gearheads and modern history buffs come together at this festival of gorgeous vintage and modern cars and motorcycles. Spectators get in free or you can register your vehicle to compete for the grand prize of coolest car!

Party for the Planet April 13 – 14, 9:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. 3000 NW 83rd St., Gainesville, FL 32606

Head to Santa Fe's Teaching Zoo for this family-friendly event and learn about fun ways to enjoy and conserve nature. Your kids can explore the zoo and take part in fun activities like face painting, crafts, training demonstrations, and more.

We Are Neutral's Earth Day Celebration April 14, 12:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. 200 SE Depot Ave., Gainesville, FL 32601

We Are Neutral has made its mark helping local businesses and individuals understand, reduce, and offset their carbon footprints. Now's your chance to join the movement at their Earth Day celebration. In addition to the fun education, there will be live music, local craft vendors, food trucks, and more.

Run the Good Race April 27, 8:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. 6500 W Newberry Rd., Gainesville, FL 32605

A local physician couple teamed with World Help, a humanitarian organization, and Created Gainesville, a local women's outreach, to create this run for a good cause. Both the 5k and 10k walk/run aim to generate awareness and raise funds to help bring an end to human trafficking.

Walk the Talk for Epilepsy April 27, 9:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. 7400 SW 41 Pl., Gainesville, FL 32608

Do your part to aid Floridians impacted by epilepsy by participating in this event. In addition to the walk, there will be a DJ, raffles for prizes, presentation of the Clayton Feigh Youth Award, and more.

43rd Annual Pioneer Day Festival April 27, 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. & April 28, 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. 20 NW 9th St., High Springs, FL 32643

Journey back to ye ole pioneer days at this historic festival located only a short 30-minute drive outside of Gainesville. Visit vendors selling homemade crafts, clothing, and furniture of the era and check out art from local artists. There's even a pie baking contest on Saturday, April 27!

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