Florida is such a great state to live in. Think about it: we live where people vacation. There are many Florida cities that are full of culture, hidden gems, good food and weird fun. Gainesville is the home of the University of Florida. This is not just the home of the Gators and good college football, but a beautiful place to visit and live. Shands is a teaching hospital that is also a home to many specialists. People come from all over to see their doctors.
The first stop I always make in Gainesville is straight over to The Reggae Shack Cafe for the best Jamaican cuisine. They even have vegan options, desserts and a table of hot sauce. The first time I tried their Caribbean style food, I fell in love; Sweet plantains, spicy jerk sauce… every morsel is heaven. The culture is there and the food is made with love.
Even though there is no room in my belly, I walk down University Avenue to their neighbor, Karma Cream. They have ice cream and fresh baked goods. Even if I can’t stay, I at least grab something for the road. My favorite is the vegan peanut butter chocolate.
The Devil’s Den Prehistoric Spring is an underground spring that was once a hidden gem and is now a hot spot in Florida. If you arrive late, expect to wait up to two hours. After you sign in and pay, there is plenty to do if you need to wait your turn. They have a campground, pool, corn hole, food truck and a large property to wander. When your time has come, you get your snorkeling gear that they rent to you and head down the steps to the brisk clear water. You can look up at the sky and greenery, or down below at the rocks under your feet. It is an amazing must-have Florida experience.
Downtown Gainesville has a lot of great restaurants and shops. Restaurants near the college are more Gator influenced with college vibes and Gator games on tv. If that isn’t your scene then head to downtown. During the weekend there are farmers markets, Depot Park, Brunch at Boca Fiesta and record stores to browse. I spotted an awesome vendor, Medusa Moderna at a pop-up event.
Crooked Path Forge is Jordan Borstelmann’s forge for his blacksmithing and bladesmith workshop. Jordan offers exclusive classes for those who want to learn how and make their own hatchet or knives. The classes are small for more one on one crafting and each student leaves with their own finished working knife that will last them their lifetime. Sign up in advance because his classes fill up fast.
Gainesville is a great Florida getaway, with so much to offer. It’s the perfect Florida staycation for a quick weekend trip. I recommend going when there is not a home game or the hotel prices will be much higher.
Our last stop before heading home was the Kanapaha Botanical Gardens. It was a beautiful place to explore. It felt like we were Alice in Wonderland.