A Beginner’s Guide to Neo-Bohemian Gainesville


“There’s only one rule that I know of, babies--God damn it, you’ve got to be kind.”

Kurt Vonnegut, God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater

A quick note

This guide was never finished--but a lot of people’s work went into it and it would be a shame to leave it unpublished. For that reason, I’m going to post it to the internet now (October 28, 2012). I’m gonna delete the original Google Doc it was created in because I suspect over time it would be vandalized and spammed to death. Thanks very much to everyone who helped out. If anyone wants something removed from this document (be you contributor or just offended third party), you can find my contact info at paycreate.com/ja.

What is neo-bohemian Gainesville?

"Neo-bohemian" is a catch-all term to describe a community of several hundred young people who live and spend time near downtown Gainesville. It's not a term anyone actually uses, nor is it intended to include or exclude anyone specifically. It is a scene, a happening, a village. To the best of my knowledge, the following are significantly more common in the neo-bohemian community than in the general Gainesville population from age 18 to 29:

  1. familiarity with and discussion of non-mainstream culture
  2. artists, musicians, writers, and other creative types
  3. consumption of alcohol and other intoxicants
  4. anti-authoritarian political leanings
  5. discussion as a pastime
  6. bicycling as main mode of transportation
  7. food-sharing
  8. house shows
  9. dancing

None of that is necessary, though -- really, all you have to do is keep showing up.

What is this guide for?

This guide is intended to describe that community to those unacquainted with it, and, if they like the sound of it, help them become a part of it. While the specific focus is on young newcomers (e.g., freshpeople), hopefully even veterans of Gainesville will find something useful.

What does neo-bohemian Gainesville do?

That's a tough question. To try to answer it is to risk being misleading and narrow. The diversity of lifestyles is huge.

Nonetheless, it's fair to say that social gatherings are what tie this community together. Some people come out every few months; others, most nights of the week. But we all hang out sometimes.

Some noteworthy aspects of these social gatherings:

  1. There are a lot of them. At minimum on most nights, there will be a few at-least-semi-open hangouts you can show up at if you know somebody there. On average, there are a few large-ish open parties a week.
  2. They happen all over. While a few people are perennial party-throwers, most people open their homes at least occasionally.
  3. A lot of them are unofficial. That is, no establishment is organizing or hosting the gathering -- just people inviting over their friends and maybe their friends' friends.
  4. Even if people go out to an establishment, it's often for people they know (and not for, say, the impersonal appeal of the establishment). They meet their friends at some bar some night each week; they watch their friends' bands play.
  5. They're often unscripted. A dance party might break out, or it mightn't. The cops may or may not come. The party might be so good people might have to be reluctantly sent home at 5am.
  6. There are familiar faces. It's very rare that two big open parties on different nights are attended by totally non-overlapping groups of people. Often there are quite a few people who know each other, even if they didn't plan to see each other.
  7. They vary in kind. There are smallish get-togethers where almost everyone is good friends with everyone else. There are cozy potlucks that end before 2am because everyone wants something like a good night's sleep. There are costume parties and masquerades. There are spontaneous adventures that last till sunrise.

But anyway, it is bigger than all that. Again, the only constant is that people keep showing up.

Why was this written?

  1. It was fun.
  2. To help people enjoy their time in Gainesville more thoroughly.
  3. Because everyone who joins the scene contributes something irreplaceable.

How does it work?

Well, if you like the sound of all that, the rest of the guide has information and advice about how to find it and join in.

The first section contains advice and information on a number of topics. Not all of it will be useful to everyone, some of it might seem obvious, but hopefully each bit is useful to SOMEONE.

The second section is a series of write-ups on areas, establishments, and goings-on frequented by the neo-bohemian community.


Philosophy of making friends in Gainesville

  1. Preconceptions are dumb. If you assume you know people based on whatever stereotype you can fit them into, you WILL miss meeting people you could become good friends with. There's a hell of a lot more to everyone than their clothing, political beliefs, or taste.
  2. Commit yourself to Gainesville. If you leave town often for some other city you call home, you’ll miss what’s here. That's true even if you stay in town but mostly think of and talk to people in other places. It's true even if you’re out and about in Gainesville but only with people you knew before you moved here.
  3. The longer you plan on being here, the more roots you can put down. If you’re interested in living in Gainesville as opposed to merely inhabiting it, strongly consider staying at least four full years.
  4. Use Facebook as a tool to find and create social events, not as a substitute for attending them. Close the computer and go for a walk.
  5. That said, chatting one-on-one with someone online remains a very good way to get to know someone better.
  6. This should go without saying, but: listen intently to both yourself and others. Think carefully. Speak honestly. Go out on limbs.

If you're a freshperson and/or live in a dorm

  1. It is VERY unlikely that you will ever again be so near so many people so open to meeting and hanging out with you. You will not see many of these people very often after the year is over. It is a fruitful time to make friends with very little social risk.
  2. Explore. Drop in on other floors and common areas.
  3. Attend the events in your dorm and on campus. Even if they seem contrived or dorky, odds are decent that there are people there you'd be glad to have met. If you're a UF student, eat midnight breakfast at Gator Nights at least a few times, perhaps inebriated.
  4. Remember--these things take time.

Where to live

  1. You are strongly encouraged to move off-campus after your first year (if you lived on campus at all).
  2. The easy option is to move to an apartment. Some apartments have a dorm-like atmosphere where it's still fairly easy to meet people. That atmosphere and the convenience are the best arguments for an apartment. If you and several friends and acquaintances all get nearby apartments in the same complex, that can be really cool.
  3. If you do decide to live in an apartment, pick one that doesn't put campus (or too much distance, really) between you and downtown. If you can't walk to the intersection of Main and University in under 15 minutes, you'll be geographically cut off from the community.
  4. When it comes down to it, a car doesn't remedy distance because you'll probably go out and drink--and then driving is impossible/reprehensible. Similarly, the buses don't run late enough or often enough to truly make up for living far away.
  5. All told, a house is probably the better option. You can get more space, a nicer place, a better location, and more privacy for the same price or less.
  6. It's not difficult to find a house to rent, but if you put a decent amount of time into finding, viewing, and choosing a house, you'll definitely be rewarded. Here's how:
  1. Search the classifieds section of the Gainesville Sun or the Alligator.
  2. Check www.padmapper.com (it is pretty amazing).
  3. Check craigslist.
  4. Drive around looking for For Rent signs and jotting down phone numbers. Many of the places you'll find are listed nowhere else.
  5. Google for realty companies in Gainesville and check their websites or call for a list of the houses they're renting (e.g., http://www.trend4rent.com/rentals.html.)
  6. Check the "Regions of near-downtown Gainesville" section below for more about specific places to move.
  1. If you choose to find a house, be aware that you're moving into a neighborhood where at least some of the residents have been living for years. Be respectful. That's even more important if you move into a poor or family-heavy neighborhood.
  2. At all costs avoid housing near Butler Plaza. Culture died there when the last Timucua native died of plague.  It is a lonely place of commerce. [ccc]

Ways/places to meet people

A caveat:

For some readers, advice in this section (and elsewhere) might seem impracticable because of social anxiety. This guide cannot cure you--if anything can, it is time, patience, persistence, and luck. That said, a concerted long-term effort to confront your nervousness and talk to new people will probably help quite a bit.

  1. Talk to your classmates about things other than class. Odds are good you have at least a few shared interests. Plus, if you miss class, they can clue you in on what happened that day.
  2. Get a job, even if you don't need one, preferably one close to downtown that puts you in regular contact with customers. Working can suck, but you’ll meet lots of people--both coworkers and customers--AND have extra money. If you can't work during the school semester, stay in town over the summer. See Appendix 3 for a couple more ideas.
  3. Attend the meetings of a student organization. Meeting people and doing stuff together is the whole point.
  4. If you're interested in a specific academic subject (e.g., your major), search that department's website for: (1) a calendar of events; (2) the existence of an undergrad society; (3) a list-serv, which you can probably just ask to be added to.
  5. Search the events listings on the Gainesville Sun website (http://events.gainesville.com/). There's a LOT of stuff. It's mostly aimed at an older and/or family audience, but definitely not all of it. Keep checking and something will probably catch your eye.
  6. Go to music shows. It's hard to overstate just how many genuinely good musicians there are in town. Gainesville has had a kickass music scene for decades. Not to mention, we get a decent share of nationally acclaimed acts. If you really like one of the bands playing, you already have that and probably other shared interests with people in the crowd. A more or less complete list of upcoming shows is at http://www.gainesvillebands.com/shows.asp
  7. Similarly, the UF music department has free recitals going on all the time; you will probably never have the opportunity to hear so much classical music performed live for free ever again.
  8. Go to art shows. They're usually abundant with good conversation pieces. The Loop is a decent UF arts blog that'll keep you up-to-date on events:  http://uffinearts.tumblr.com/
  9. Volunteer. It'll put you in touch with an aspect of the community you were probably unaware of, introduce you to some truly decent people, and let you give back to the community you're trying to be a part of. Some suggestions in Appendix 4.
  10. Check your Suggested Events on Facebook. If there's something interesting, you can ask whoever you know who's attending what the deal is.
  11. If you find an establishment/club that you like, check to see whether they have a page/group on the Fabe. If they do, they probably invite members/fans to everything they have going on.

Meeting people at parties

  1. Mingle and eavesdrop. If you find yourself in a casual atmosphere where people are standing around in groups around and talking, wander among them and inconspicuously listen. If you hear something that interests you, join the group in a polite but obvious fashion. If nobody looks at you weird, you're in. The worst that can happen is you stick around for 30 seconds and bail. If they think less of you, they’re either assholes or having a bad day--don’t take either personally.
  2. Come bearing gifts. If you come to a party with booze you're willing to share, you have an excellent conversation starter. If it's fairly late and people are fairly drunk, delicious food works just as well. Even if you don’t smoke, you might carry a lighter in case anyone asks for one. Also, if you're drinking from your own supply, nobody will think you're a mooch. That said, don't hand out something people can make a mess with.
  3. Introduce yourself to the host(s)--it’s just courteous. They're letting you, a stranger, hang out in their home, so thank them. There are other advantages: they can help you if you need anything later; you'll probably meet lots of their friends if you get along with the host; if they're hosting now, they're likely to host again, and you can probably attend then.
  4. Relatedly, try to be helpful to hosts or organizers in some way. Hosting is busy work and help is usually appreciated. You might: clean up little messes you spot; help clean up as things are winding down; help keep the peace (and relative quiet); offer them whatever treats you have; straight up ask them if they need help with anything. Of course, don't be overeager or clingy.
  5. Host your own events. You can do this even during your first year by inviting people to your dorm, or out to the grill, or over to the pool, or wherever. Once you have your own place, it's even easier. They needn't cost you much if anything--you can throw a potluck or a BYOB party.

Getting around

  1. The city of Gainesville and its addresses are laid out on a mostly predictable and comprehensible grid. Knowing the grid means knowing how to get to almost anywhere based solely on the address, even if you've never been. If you don't understand the grid, see Appendix 1.
  2. STRONGLY consider getting a good bicycle for your main mode of transportation. You can find decent stuff around $200 and up. This guide specifically recommends Bikes and More as well as the Eighth Ave Bike and Coffee House, but there are lots of other good shops in town. If you don't know anything about bikes, that's fine: just tell them what you need the bike for (to get around town, and maybe ride the many trails in/near/just outside of town) and how much you're willing to spend. Have them measure you to get a good fit. Shop around. If you have a good grasp on what's worth what, check craigslist.
  3. [Parking meters, parking on Sunday, reading parking signs and knowing where it's okay to park and for how long and when]


Going to any of these places once is unlikely to make you friends. If you visit them regularly, though, you’ll undoubtedly start to recognize faces--and be recognized--and THAT is how you’ll meet people. Like I said above, it is enough to just keep showing up and let serendipity do with you what it will.

[insert some kind of explanation here about how some of these will never be places to meet people, but all are excellent places to invite people]

There were no exact criteria for making it onto the following list of places, just a general sense that these are staples of neo-bohemian life in sweet Lady G.

Probably someone else can come up with a much better way to do this, but I wanted to get something rudimentary started. This section is [for the moment] split up into:

  1. Regions of near-downtown Gainesville
  2. Non-venue locations
  3. Events
  4. 18+ venues
  5. 21+ venues
  6. Nature

Regions of near-downtown Gainesville

- Living in "The Duckpond" (NE Blvd) is golden. There are fewer parties, yes, but the neighbors are a good mix of students and families, and it's heavily forested (sometimes with fruit trees!)

- "Third Ave is Love"/the student ghetto.

- The pleasant street district

- South of University, east of 6th street

All-ages/non-venue locations

Cafes: There seems to be an unspoken rule that it is bad form to introduce yourself at cafes. Perhaps this is generally because many people use cafes as a quiet place to work or study and tend to be annoyed when interrupted, but somehow this rule does not apply to people you already know. Personally, if it is someone I have spoken to in less than three other locations, I will only spare a wave. It is best to only strike up conversations with new acquaintances at cafes if you are familiar enough with them that they know they can cut it short without offense. -ccc

The Laboratory

also known as “the Lab”. Wear a lab coat and get free coffee, best beer pitchers PBR.-Luhz

Lot of noise/experimental shows here. Will someone who knows more about music describe better the scene that’s developing here? Like, with Action Research, etc.?--ja

A place for the nerdcore scene and awesome sandwiches.  They serve their drafts in 500ml (?) glass beakers. -TS

I don’t know his name but the owner guy makes some fucking delicious food. He once made my wheat-intolerant friend amazing tacos with romaine hearts as the shell. -mm

Haha, the owner’s name is Larry, and he was my first friend in Gainesville. Literally my favorite place in the world, where I’ve met many friends and gone on many dates. I’m an open mic night regular there on Mondays at 9:42 and it’s an insane show, all the time. 3 dollar cover if you’re new but that’s to keep out the people who would trash it. Great food, good times. - Helen


One of the few all-ages venues in Gainesville that really makes thorough use of it. On some nights, you’re likely to encounter a number of high school-aged Gainesville locals. They have mid-90s era video games near the bar which, as I understand it, are a fairly integral part of the 1982 experience. Mainly punk music, I think.

I met my last boyfriend here. I’ve seen a handful of ska and folk-punk bands here, one of my favorite venues. -Helen


Has a certain after hours charm to it.  Somewhat of an essential post drinking food choice.

Lentils and Tostada is the cheapest ($3 for a small take-out filled) lunch in Gainesville that you didn’t prepare yourself or dig out of the dumpster. -TS :)

Their sandwiches are blindingly good.--ja

Vegetarian or vegan? Just ask for a sunshine bowl or sunshine sandwich!

Flaco’s is where you go when you are drunk and have been dancing your ass off for several hours, thereby working up a serious hunger. You must be willing to wait in a ridiculous line, though. The “Sunshine” is great. --[Andre]

They have huge burritos for $5 and tacos for $2 in the back room.

Sun & Monday closed, Tuesday is lunch only and Wed-Sat is usually Noon to 3AM

Video Rodeo

If you don’t take advantage of Video Rodeo while you live in Gainesville you’ll regret it. They stock many videos that you won’t have access to ever again unless you purchase them online --[Addison]

Watch out for the late fees--return your videos on time! :(

The late fees are high, however they throw store parties every few months where they take half off your late fees (anddd theres a keg for those of age)! A great way to meet interesting people in Gainesville. -- [Addison]

They will make you never want to go to Blockbuster again (not that you were going, anyway. you young whippersnapper, you). --[Andre]

If you give them a Blockbuster membership card to chop up, they give you a free rental. --[Meredith]

My friend Dan helps run the place and I can’t say I’ve found a wider variety of movies anywhere else. I mean, a VHS of Where’s Poppa? Oh my god. - Helen

The Jones


Difficult to find--23rd Ave, east of Main. I can never remember. A great place to grab breakfast when you have a hangover and don’t want to be seen by the general population (it’s far enough away that you only risk running into a handful of your peers). They have the best tofu scramble ever.

May not still be the case, but last I was there was still cash only!  You can get some at the gas station next door, but definitely better to be prepared. --[Meredith]

Still cash-only. -m  They take checks, though! -ccc

Civilization is

Like the Jones but classier, which is not to discount the Jones, they both serve creative and delicious locally sourced food and beverages, they simply have different atmospheres. The Jones brunch is for hangovers, Civilization brunch is for when your parents visit, both have great dinner and lunch choices. They’re both great for everything actually, just try them out and decide for yourself. Closed Sundays!

Last I heard it was a cooperative, but my info might be outdated.  It’s an unusual business model for a restaurant.  The food is awesome. -TS

Still a co-op. I hear it makes a good gig. -ccc

significantly slower service than the Jones, expect about 2 hours from start to finish. -ehc

The Plaza of the Americas/Krishna Lunch is...

Excellent place for slacklining and hacky sack.

A great place to meet people for lunch, whether once or every single day. It might seem crazy, but if you’d like to meet people, you could do worse than just spotting a large group and asking if you can join them. People who are willing to sit down in a circle in the dirt and grass are literally pretty down-to-earth people. Wednesday, spaghetti day, is the most popular day, albeit not the most nutritious one.--ja

Where a band of jugglers called Objects In Motion can be seen on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 12ish pm to 2ish pm. --dgp

The thing I miss most about Gainesville. --[Meredith]

How much does it cost now? Used to be you could scrape by for a free a couple times if you asked nicely, but they won’t let you abuse their generosity. I miss it, too, but mostly because of work. -ccc

It’s $4 now. $3.75 if you bring a bowl, spoon, and cup.--ja

They’ve added plastic chairs now, and you can always migrate to a surrounding brick wall or bench in the shade (often in front of Peabody or Library West)... so the ground is an option, not an obligation. -kcw

Boca Fiesta

Where you'll find the plaid-wearing, heavily tatted/beardy men.

Oh, and some Against Me! dude.

After moving away from Gainesville, not a week goes by without me mentioning Boca Fiesta to a fellow adventurous foodie or interested tex-mex connoisseur. Nothing makes me happier than sitting outside in an alley during October to a pint of Abita Turbodog, some guacamole and a tempeh burrito with double habenero hell. If that wasn’t enough, Boca has a friendly, inclusive atmosphere where tables converse with one another, waitstaff smile and advise you to go over to the Palamino for a beer if time permits.  

The food is super good, as well.

Where I wish approximately 4% of the patrons weren’t straight. - JP

Boca’s cool and the atmosphere is good and they’ve got a lovely community space going on with movie screenings, dance nights, art shows, and live music, but I cannot be convinced that their food is good for the price. Also the service lacks sometimes. (sigh). The Margaritas kick ass, though. -MM

A great spot for tempeh taco salad


The mysterious diner step-child of Boca Fiesta located inside the Sun Center. When Boca abdicated lunchtime, they sent us here for both breakfast and lunch. Don't expect tacos and burritos, it is all homecooked diner food: sandwiches, pancakes, oh and smoothies. I've been eyeing the homemade poptarts (sweet and savory), but have yet to make the leap. -ehc

Great food and you get a lot of bang for your buck. Chips, bean burrito, sweet potato and jalapeno cornbread for 8 bucks? Hot damn! I go there for lunch every weekend. - Helen.

Rest In Peace. - RJM

The Bull

Cafe during the day, bar at night. Free wifi. Great decor, down to the entomology collection under the glass in the bar itself. Huge walls with moulding and wire, so makes a nice venue for showing artwork. Same owners as the Jones. Acoustics are decent, too, and they have shows on Tuesdays? Wednesdays? -ccc

Lots of tasty snacks to try from homemade oreos, delicious open-faced bagel sandwiches and do try the quiche du jour! And if regular beer's not your thing, the pomegranate hibiscus ginger brew is even better than Eli's. -ehc

Its got some similarities to Alcove but its a lot louder and full of crazy single people.

Really great bartenders

8th Avenue Bike and Coffee House

just, the best

Free wifi! Drink coffee while your bike is repaired! I also think that when you spend a certain amount of money you get a free cup.

El Indio

Mexican fast food. Do you have a hangover? Order the large fries and the queso and dip the former into the latter.--ja

The thing about El Indio is that it’s often literally incredibly fast. Like, you question how exactly it’s possible that they got your order ready when you’ve just fucking said it. And then it’s really good food, all of it. And it’s cheap. And it’s really near campus. I ate it so much that I burnt myself out on it for a year or so.

I really want to eat some El Indio now. Those salty delicious black beans...good god. I feel like the Indio has raised their prices and become more organized, which is kind of unfortunate because they were really rocking the indie thing, but alas. I’d still eat there in a pinche.

If you end up doing laundry at Don’s in north Gainesville--which you should, by the way--you get the benefit of a clean, operable laundromat, and El Indio next door, and a bangin’ Christian thrift store in the bargain. --kcw

Leonardo’s By the Slice

One of the first off-campus places a lot of people discover, and one of the first places that comes to mind when anyone suggests eating out in the mind of even the oldest, most decrepit members of the scene.--ja

1. I think their pizza is better than Satchel’s (especially if you order an entire fresh pie). There, I said it.

2. They usually have the most ambivalent staff I have ever seen. I’m always half-expecting someone to slit their wrists on my food.

3. Greek salad is a winner. -eam

La Tienda


Oh my god eat a lengua taco. Beef tongue is fucking delicioso. -mm

Wonderful authentic-ish (ish because I’ve never been to Mexico) Mexican food. The red mole is awesome, and you can buy bottled sodas made in Mexico, thus with real sugar instead of corn syrup. Expect soccer on the televisions. As the name implies, there’s is also a store in the back to buy ingredients for your own authenticish Mexican! -ccc

And it looks so cool in there but they’re not even trying too hard, it’s just really awesome -- j

The Civic Media Center

Where to go if you’re tired of textbooks written by old (or dead) white men. They also host some cool social justice-oriented events if you’re into activism and organizing. -Iris

They’re always hosting pretty cool events. Good place to meet a lot of people who want to talk very seriously about non-mainstream politics. Most of them are also pretty good at talking about extremely unserious stuff, too.

Free wifi and a good venue to host meetings for whatever group or club you’re putting together. Quiet, and free, and they just usually ask for a donation collection during or after the meeting. -ccc

Great po-jam (poetry jam) on Thursday evenings. Also be sure to look and see what movies they’re showing! - Helen

The Rock Gym

Good exercise. A bit on the pricy side but an excellent place to meet some really motivated, physically conscious stoners. Anyone there will be more than happy to show you the ropes if you’re willing to ask, and the environment is extremely supportive. Feel free to cheer someone on while they’re climbing a route, but don’t tell them how to do it unless they ask.

The cool thing about rock climbing is that there’s a problem-solving element tied in with the physical control/exertion. It takes a little bit of toughing it out to get started, but you’ll be amazed at what your body is capable of. -mm


Expensive but delicious.

Probably the best cup of coffee in Gainesville, in my opinion.--ja

Rotating taps of coffee beans from the heavy hitters of coffee connoisseur-dom, free trade and all that jazz . A bit on the pricy side but totally worth it. I’d recommend drinking some of your coffee when it’s hot and then letting it chill out for a little bit for a complete flavor change. It won’t go shitty like Starbucks does. Teas, daily baked goods, tasty chocolate, free wi-fi, excellent music. Local events like Pecha Kucha once in a while, hosts a show for ARTWALK, free public cuppings on Sunday (I think) where you taste coffee and tell people it tells like old sock and they nod sagely and slurp on their own spoons. -mm

Rare teas and scones are the reason to come to Volta. Amazing, amazing stuff. Cappuccinos are fantastic as well. Basic rule of Volta is to never get anything too basic; be adventurous and I’m sure you won’t be disappointed. - cn

Karma Cream

A sugary vegan fantasy Karma Cream offers the best in vegan sweets from awesome cupcakes to the superb vegan ice cream. They also have a full coffee bar menu that is just as top notch.

Order the iced lattee it’s a tasty joy and they use coffee cubes which is genius in these insanely hot Gainesville days. KEEP your rewards card seriously you will be cashing in a free cupcake, ice cream, or coffee sooner than you think if you keep it somewhere safe in your wallet. They recently got a stand at the farmers market which is only a plus. -jg

Seriously original ice cream flavors.  Earl Grey Tea ice cream, cardamom ice cream....just wonderful

Best vegan ice cream I’ve ever had. Try the unique flavors. --dgp


A good place to be alone or with everyone you know.  And they have $1 refills!  Bring your biggest jar! -rn

A good place to see drugged-up high school students writing bad poetry and smoking cloves.

Order the iced soy chai latte. Best first date drink ever.

Always iced coffee with the works it is meaningless unless it has the works. jg

Associated with board games (which they have for use) and meetups. --dgp


The Kickstand

Looking for volunteers.  Check out their website.  Right now it is only open for bike repairs at the downtown farmers’ market on Wednesdays. (- Cheryl)


slightly overrated.  Yeah, occasionally there’s something good showing, but mostly it’s either the super elitist elderly established Gainesville Artists displaying their prolific plethora of palm trees, beaches, and country scenes (attempting to be impressionists or highwaymen, despite the passing historical significance of these movements), or, in some venues, consistent complete shit.  But HEY, if you like free cheese and crackers and wine if you’re old enough to drink or are drinking anyway THEN DO IT --rn

seconded- Addison

I think that you’re going to the wrong place. There was an awesome oil paint show last time at the Randy Batista Gallery next to Palaminos, and a lot of studios are opening up on south main, it seems. -m

Yeah, while the blue-hairs seem to have a monopoly on show space downtown, it’s slowly but noticeably being injected with younger, more interesting artists. However, because of the caliber of art that currently dominates the scene, the new blood artists are discouraged from being associated with them. It is really up to these artists to aggressively establish a place that they can call their own, whether they advertise through the ArtWalk system or not. Until they are organized enough to rent or buy such a joint, it may just require guerrilla art shows on the street. Oh, and while you might find that their art is tired, talk to the older artists, because they know a lot about the downtown art scene, its politics, and its history. Ask them about the eighties.  -ccc

Critical Mass

There’s a facebook page. Briefly, on the last Friday of every month people meet up on bikes at Plaza of the Americas and ride around town. Because, fuck you people driving cars during rush hour. -eam

Farmer’s Markets

Every Wednesday, a good place to buy delicious local produce at good prices. You’d be surprised at the variety of things available on sale--plus, a good way to just take in an eyeful of exactly who’s living in Gainesville. Not everyone goes, and not everyone who goes always goes, but it’s rare that it’s anything but an extremely pleasant experience.--ja

Wednesday downtown farmer’s market is a great way to meet the people growing your delicious local organic fruits and veggies!

Waldo Flea Market = not a true farmer’s market. True, some local plants, fruits, and veggies, but their vegetable matter is known to be pretty stickered. --kcw

18+ venues

The Atlantic

...the second syllable in toplantic

Where I had some of the best times of my life: getting drunk in a dorm and then going to dance to indie pop on Thursday nights.--ja

co-signed! -fl

co-signed --[Addison]

Like a can of sardines, but with better music.

Not mid-town, which seems to be more of a social scene. The Atlantic is a happy place with happy people - there are still some people trying to get their one-night stand catch for the night (I’ve done it and I’m not ashamed,) but they are certainly not as hyper-aggressive as you might find in many many many other clubs. Also, much less of a scent of Axe body spray. (I’ve done it and I AM ashamed.) - [Chase]

The Atlantic is dirty and it smells bad. That said, it’s a great place to get down with your bad self.

Thursday nights are the busiest and funnest nights, the main draw being free PBR until 11, but I can’t stand the DJ. There is something to be said about Motown (?) nights on Wednesdays, however. -ccc

Double Down Live

Formerly called Common Grounds. Still the best venue in Gainesville. Most of the major acts that come through play here.--ja

Hmm, what’s the deal with the karaoke here?--ja

Where you'll find the plaid-wearing, heavily tatted/beardy men.

They have AC now!

The Midnight

A larger, much more inclusive Alcove-lite (see below) with tasty bar food and better prices -- they serve rotating taps of pretty great microbrews and have extremely cheap beer on Tankard Tuesdays. You can get a tankard (25oz) of cheap beer for $2.50 and a tankard of decent beer for $4.00.  They also have $1 Narragansett tallboys all day erryday (true fact). The Midnight’s crowd is diverse and inclusive, supplies board games for the bored and offers a trivia night on Monday. Might be open on Sunday very soon. Large side porch for smokers and conversation. - m

With the exception of Tuesdays, one of the more chill bars in Gainesville. You don’t have to shout to have a conversation, and the lighting in the side room is bright enough to read a book or sketch if conversation isn’t really your thing. They always have a good selection on tap, and a massive selection of bottled beers. For wine drinkers, they have a two for one special all night on Wednesdays (which is why there is always flocks of girls drinking their sangria). They also have a small kitchen that serves things like chili and grilled cheese sandwiches and BLTs for when you’re feeling drungry, but don’t get carried away! You will find yourself spending a lot more than you bargained for once you start smelling bacon. No liquor. -ccc

Tankard Tuesdays Tankard Tuesdays Tankard Tuesdays Tankard Tuesdays. And board games. And a real friggin’ jukebox with real CDs where you can play “Money for Nothing” as many times in a row as you damn well want. Also my SO rarely eats less than 2 grilled cheeses when we are there. -eam

21+ venues

The Top

...the first syllable in toplantic

The top, to me, was the place where all the subcultures within the counterculture could meet and combine forces like the folks from captain planet.  Beardos, electros, and others could share a common space and not start a riot.

also, amazing drink specials on Thursday.--ja


Kitsch as fuck.

Like one of the above posters was saying, one of the thumping hearts of the Gainesville social scene. Not everyone comes here, but many, many people do. They think they’re pretty cool, but they’re right.--ja

Whenever I go to The Top, I always wonder where the Bottom is.

Midtown. -ja

The Top is probably the best place to take a first date or your when they come into town. The food is good. It’s a good place with pretty decent people in it. Thursday night is easily one of the drunkest in town due to this place. Unfortunately it’s 21+ everyday after 10pm, so you’ve either got to get there early or stick to the Atlantic.

Don’t even try to deceive or seduce the doorman if you’re underage. Chuck is the strictest bouncer in town, and you’ll just make him mad AND remember your name and face. He draws the signs and he keeps the joint from getting cited, and he’s good at both.

Chuck lets me mess with the sign and is easily the bestest doorman in town. Chuck seriously rocks. CHUCK!

Decent Sunday Brunch. Try the pancakes! -ccc

The photo booth in the back is old-school; chemicals make your picture, not a digital camera. 3 bucks for 4 shots, but it’s a great keepsake! Many people collect them.


Too cramped for my  liking, it’s like drinking in a hallway.

It is drinking in a hallway - Addison

ja likes this.

It is decent on an off night to bring an old friend you haven’t seen in a while. -gp

The best beer bar in Gainesville. Wine and sake, too, but no liquor (a feature, not a bug). Tuesdays are sake night. A small but decent place to show artwork. Classy, but they always carry your Narragansett. -ccc

and a selection of Framboise![a] -ehc


Water Springs

Central Florida has an awesome natural water system with our aquifer and beautiful springs systems (of course perpetually under threat of overtapping), and a short day trip out of Gainesville north or west will lead you to a number of State Park or private springs. Some of them are simple swimming holes, while a few allow tubing down the rivers. There is of course no shortage of places to canoe or kayak. The water is around 70 degrees Fahrenheit year-round, so is a great relief to Florida’s lengthy summers, but you can watch the water steam in the cold nights of winter, or slip into its comparatively warm embrace if you’re feeling adventurous. At the state parks you can expect picnic tables, grills, restrooms and occasional pavilions. Drinking alcohol is often prohibited, and glass containers are always forbidden. Research the rules before you go. Buy the boiled peanuts from the roadside and bring a watermelon and float down the water with it to chill it. Entrance can cost a range from $2 per person to $10 per car.

Despite the fact that the springs are a essentially redneck past time (in a way I love), I almost always hear at least four different languages around the picnic tables and in the water.


Ichetucknee, Ginnie, Fanning, Rum Island, Otter, Hart, Manatee, Troy, Blue, and Poe are some names of springs to look into. -ccc

There is the oldest and largest Live Oak tree in the area in Lacrosse. Good date spot.

Morningside Nature Center

Not far east of Gainesville, with trails and lots of native Floridian ecology. Gorgeous place. --dgp


Payne’s Prairie deserves some mentioning, both the state park and the La Chua trail off the Hawthorne.  All the alligators to see, and other wildlife and birds.

Also this town has like 100 miles of trails for mountain biking apparently, don’t know where most of them are but a few bike shops do weekly group rides.  Sweetwater preserve has an entrance from the hawthorne trail and Loblolly woods off 34th st. Parks: http://www.cityofgainesville.org/GOVERNMENT/CityDepartmentsNZ/NatureOperationsDivision/ParksFacilities/tabid/182/Default.aspx - [Cheryl]

Bike Trails


San Felasco

Hawthorne Trail

… a bike trail that is about 40 miles round trip: http://g.co/maps/3sf6 (bring spare tubes, granola bars and water and don’t go at night). There’s ice cream in Hawthorne if you get there in time.

A great diversion from regular life. Beautiful, and if you go early enough, you can see turkey, deer, rabbit, and gopher tortoises. Ration your calories and ration your water, because it’s 18+ miles down to Hawthorne, and longer back. Sunscreen. -ccc

Why not go at night? seems fine with sufficient lights [cheryl][b] 

The Clock

Only edible after 2 am. --rn

The Touchdown Breakfast - $4.25, the last time I looked, and HUGE. --kcw

Do NOT order the “clam chowder” - [seanP]

All stuff below this point has not yet been sorted into the rest of the document.

Arts & Culture

UF Galleries

Grinter Gallery often has unusual shows within its display windows from mathematical origami to 16th century maps. -ehc

Focus Gallery

University Gallery

Reitz Gallery

Tench Building

Tench Building Artist Studios at 115 S. Main Street are located upstairs of the Sweetwater Print Cooperative and next door to Eleanor Blair’s gallery. The upstairs floor consists of roughly eight studio spaces (with doors!) and a small gallery. Wednesday nights 7-10 they host weekly figure drawing sessions, to which participants are expected to bring $5(?) to pay the model.

That corner is considered somewhat of a sweet spot of the downtown art scene and is always a hub during ArtWalk. While many observers claim to be unimpressed by the stagnation of the artists in these spaces, it is not for  a lack of opportunity for new artists. These opportunities are simply not advertised. Studios are $100, and the charter favors opening new leases with new artists in favor of upholding older leases.

You may also be obstructed by a poorly information management. The website suggests   Erica Chatman at (352) 393-8539 or chatmanej@cityofgainesville.org, though I think that this information is outdated. A bit of digging may be required to find the new coordinator.

Power District

Over the last 5 or so years, Gainesville has experienced growth and development of the art community especially in the industrial district around SE 5th Ave by the GRU plant, including the Orange Blossom Studios, the Church of Holy Colors, Display. Apparently there are other types of workspace behind Display (There are rumors that the Sequential Artists Workshop will be opening in one of those areas as early as January 2012) , as well as other numerous unnamed or unknown pockets of creators elsewhere nearby. If you stay up late enough you can even hear the muffled drums of musicians practicing in their homes or warehouses.

The Gainesville CRA has taken it upon themselves to brand this section of town as “The Power District” which also includes their vision for the redevelopment of the GRU industrial properties when they have vacated in the near future. The pace of this is glacial, as the project dates back to 2007, but it is on of many of the CRA’s projects that deserves the attention of Gainesvillians, if only to avoid poor decisions like the Seward Johnson “Crossing Paths” debacle.


Sequential Artists Workshop

Also known as “SAW,” This is Gainesville’s brand new comix and graphic novel school, headed by author, artist, and teacher, Tom Hart. The school offers short courses, full-year progarams, and multiple guest lectures and workshops.



Really good landmark, once the person you’re giving directions to knows where it is. - [seanP]

Bookmark their upcoming movies http://thehipp.org/cinema/current-films - [seanP]

Give the live theatre a chance students get a discount on tickets and this is some of the best live theatre you will be able to see for an affordable price. -jg

The Doris

Lengthily and legally titled The Doris Bardon Community Cultural Center, the Doris is a brand arts center in Gainesville intended specifically as a  communal studio space, exhibition space, arts education venue, and generally as a geographic hub for the arts community for the city. They have a paid membership system that is unnecessarily complicated right now, but they should sort it out soon. Labor for the center is executed by Artists in Residence, who are paid with their separate (ly communal) studio space. -ccc

A good on-campus place/event/thing to do

The Undergraduate Philosophy Society meets Tuesdays at 7PM on the third floor of Griffin Floyd. Come for some stimulating philosophical talks and conversations.

--“Good Young” Andrew Smith, the President. Shameless plug, but other editors of this doc can vouch for it


Outdoor Adventure Rec club is fun to get out of the city or state and meet people who like adventures. [cheryl]

In the same spirit, TRiP [http://www.union.ufl.edu/trip/] organizes some awesome treks, and other activities [prithvi]

The library west bookstore is always the best place to find dated books on all manner of subjects or find the perfect specimen to alter into oblivion for your latest art project. -ehc

If you’ve got a few extra minutes, check out the beautiful rare books reading room on the second floor of Library East. Usually 9-5, it’s pretty deserted most of the time; you get a whole table to yourself, and you can look at as many rare books and special collections materials as you want! --kcw

Lake Wauburg: One UFID gets a whole car load of people in.  Once you’re in, free kayaks, paddleboats, and canoes for borrowing.  They even have sailboats you can learn to use and borrow for free (must be UF student)!  Kayaking there is a great way to see gators in the wild.

The way I met my best friends in Gainesville

Student orgs and classes. That’s not the best way to do it (the best answer is “Everywhere”) but I recommend student orgs for campus involvement in general - Andrew Smith

Krishna Lunch on the Plaza of the Americas!

Seems obvious, but actually talking to people in classes outside of class material. I met one person who shared some classes with me, he introduced me to his friends and I formed a lasting relationship with all of them - not to mention that it really livened up my third and fourth year. (Chase)

Shows shows shows. Gainesville has a great music scene and you’ll meet a lot of people with similar interests at one. Hell, I met my last boyfriend at a Know How reunion show and he is still one of my best friends! - Helen

One thing I wish someone had told me as a freshfaced newcomer to Gainesville

Go see a movie at the Hippodrome. It will probably be something great.

There is a pocket of like-minded people in Gainesville for every sort of interest and activity. You just have to be willing to find them. -Iris

Don’t get discouraged. This place grows on you.

Gainesville is a vortex...this is what everyone will tell you, but it’s really just what you make of it. Enjoy your time here. You’re young. This too shall pass.

Don’t worry about trying to fit in, there’s too many people to not find people who share your values/interests/ideas. And even then, the ones that don’t are still cool as fuck and want to talk to someone different. [Chase]

LEARN ABOUT THE SUPERFUND SITE.  Cabot-Koppers.  Don’t live too close to it, it’s potentially causing a cancer cluster plus other illness for residents in the Stephen Foster neighborhood.  Important for all of Gainesville, as the toxic plume could be currently moving towards the city’s wells where your drinking water comes from. There are community organizations working to educate and raise money to try to start lawsuits and get the corporation to relocate residents currently living near it.  I don’t know if this is the right category for this, but I can’t believe how long it took me and others I know to find out about it and I feel like freshmen should know.  [Cheryl]


The Downtown Farmer’s Market does not happen everyday, and potlucks do not magically supply themselves. Ghetto Publix (1302 North Main Street) can cover the basics, but you will be rewarded if you branch out and look at what else is out there. -[seanP]

Chun-Ching Oriental Market (418 NW 8th Avenue)

Where the good ramen-style noodles are, some of the good ones are over $1, for single pack. Watch out for the noodle packs that say they are ‘spicy’ or contain ‘chili powder’ as an ingredient - depending on how much water you use, they may be the hottest food dish you will ever eat.

Fresh, very affordable produce including korean sweet potatoes (purple on the outside, white on the inside), outrageously large carrots and asparagus, bok choy, beets, and more.

Ward’s (515 NW 23rd Avenue)

Good beer and wine selection, spanning nearly every budget.

Bulk foods including granola, nutritional yeast, herbs, spices, steel cut oats, and sweeteners.

Grassfed beef, local Tempeh, Tofu, organic produce, good BBQ, fresh boiled peanuts

Very affordable conventional produce

Also have fresh locally produced milk that I love.

Citizen’s Co-Op (435 South Main St.)

 If you live in the area, it works as a great convenience store but with great independent foods and beers instead of doritos and cigarettes. -RJM

India Bazaar (3550 SW 34th St.)

The goto place for many Indian spices, snacks, vegetables and frozen stuff. Also has a large selection of ready to eat meals. Avoid these.

Carry a decent selection of halal meats, including goat meat. [-prithvi]

The store formerly known as Mother Earth

“Earth Origins Market” (521 NW 13th Street)

$6.99 hot bar / salad bar

$1 cup of organic coffee (the sign says $2, so you may have to ask nicely)


Appendix 1. How to Navigate by the Grid System

[aka Euclidean Coordinates]

First: get a map out and follow along.

Gainesville streets are based on a grid system. This means that the streets are numbered sequentially with the lower numbers being closer to the intersection of Main St. and University Ave. (the origin, if you will, because thinking about the town as a coordinate system is helpful.) Avenues go east to west, and Streets go north to south. A helpful mnemonic device here is APRL or ‘April’. Avenues, Places, Roads, and Lanes all go East-West. Everything else (except for a few outliers) goes North-South  There are 4 quadrants to the city, North east, North West, South east and South west. Once again, thinking of it as a coordinate system, North East would be above and right of the origin and south west would be below and left.

Using this info, you know that the intersction of University Ave. and 13th St. (the North Eastern most corner of UF) is 13 blocks from the center of downtown (the origin) and right on University Ave.

So, If someone says: “Hey, theres this bitchin party at 311 NW 4th ave.” you know its 3 blocks north of University Ave. and 4 blocks west of Main St. and Its on an Avenue, so you know you should be going East-West if you want to find it.

Be sure not to get the quadrants of the city confused. I’ve wasted many nights circling the same block over and over, looking for a shindig only to find it was in the NW quadrant and not the NE one.

A little about the areas and major streets:

The University is bounded by 13th Street on the East, University on the North, 34th Street on the West and Archer Road on the south.

Two major roads with names that dont follow the grid system are Archer Road, and SW Williston Road/Waldo Road.

Archer starts by curving off of South West 13th Street and encircling the bottom of campus, all the way to Highway 75 and beyond.

Waldo Road starts way up north and way out east and comes plunging down passing UF at a distance. At around University Ave, it turns to the West and turns into SW Williston which continues far south of Archer but parallel to it, all the way to highway 75 and beyond.

East of 6th street is called downtown about until you hit the library headquarters. Lots of bars, resturants and venues. This is where a lot of ‘alternative’ people hang out.

West of 13th Street until about 20th Street is called ‘midtown’ and it also has a lot of bars and resturants. A lot of sorority and Fraternity people hang out there. Nobody knows what the area between 13th and 6th is called...

- [Matt]

((Hey Matt, I think that area is called the student ghetto.

It should also be noted that 3rd Ave is Love.--ja

everyone knows it’s called the student ghetto, like people who live there, people trying to give you directions and calling it the student ghetto, employees who work in downtown, etc. ))

Appendix 2. Classes You Might Like to Take

At UF:

  1. Social Entrepreneurship by Kristen Joos  (pronounced Joe’s)- This was one of the most transformative classes I’ve taken at UF, and I’m saying this as someone who was only introduced to the concept as a last semester senior. You will learn everything you want to know about the organizations already “doing good” in the world and leave only with exciting ideas and possibilities in your head. Take it when you’re a sophomore or junior because it’s an intense class that assumes a lot of prior knowledge of social issues and business. --Iris
  2. If you’re an English major and like literature, take Dante or Shakespeare with Shoaf. He was an amazing teacher.
  3. Padgett Powell is an awesome teacher if you have any interest in writing fiction.
  4. If you like history, and Tegeder still teaches it: American History ????-1845. The man is a library of quotations of the founding philosophers.

Professor Harpold (English dept.) cannot be recommended highly enough--for book tech, Jules Verne, hypermedia, etc. &c. Wait. I should keep this to myself. This dude is awesome. --kcw

Appendix 3:

- If you’re a fast and accurate typist, try Copytalk (AKA Gainesville Student Business Services), which is located under the blank sign in the plaza on the corner of NW 6th St. and 3rd Ave. The job is to put on headphones and type what you hear. Most people agree that it’s brutally monotonous, but it’s decent money and excellent hours. Anyway, if you do work here, take frequent breaks and introduce yourself to the other employees. Very few of them are not in the neo-bohemian scene. By the way, never call it Copytalk in earshot of anyone in charge.

- You can also try the UF Survey Research Lab, located at Ayers Medical Plaza on the corner 1st and 2nd ave. The job is to call up random people and try to interview them. It’s always for non-profits, so you’re never selling anyone anything. As with Copytalk, there are many people to meet if you go on break and chat them up.

Appendix 4.

Edible Plant Project is an awesome way to see local food production and learn about new food plants you’ve never heard of.  GIFT gardens through Fl Organic Growers builds raised beds for low income families to help them support themselves sustainably.  Not sure how active they are but Barrels for Hope was/is an organization trying to send rainbarrels full of materials for building an earthen, earthquake resistant house to Haiti for the rebuilding efforts there.  Morningside nature center I think takes volunteers for its historic reenactment days, so you could dress up as a settler and bake biscuits or make candles maybe. http://www.cityofgainesville.org/GOVERNMENT/CityDepartmentsNZ/NatureOperationsDivision/Volunteering/tabid/104/Default.aspx


You mean lambics.