By Kelena Klippel
Freshman, English major
As the well-known Journey song goes, “Just a small town girl, living in a lonely world…Just a city boy born and raised in south Detroit…Both Gators with limited spending money and a need to have fun.” All right, maybe those aren’t the exact lyrics, but still pretty relatable right? You are either hailed from a town that didn’t even have a post office or from a bustling metropolis filled with smog and boutiques as far as the eye could see. And now you’re in Gainesville, a pubescent city that is nearing its maturity in attractions and restaurants. Believe it or not, this college town of ours is chock full of activities that will keep both you and your wallet happy.
Of course, Gainesville would be a ghost town without UF. We are the heart of this town, and UF has to keep us entertained so we won’t start riots over mundane activities, like a weekly workshop on dying napkins orange and blue. In order to prevent this probable angst, the Reitz Union holds GatorNights every Friday night from 6:00 p.m. – 12:00 a.m. GatorNights consists of a free night of food, a recent movie, booming music, and other activities such as dance battles and making your own dream catcher. When asked why GatorNights is his favorite activity, sophomore honors student Edward Daly said, “It’s just an easy place to be able to hang out and talk to everyone”. It’s pretty much a massive party without the hassle of planning and food preparation. The Reitz also has a game room where you and your friends can bowl or play pool for less than $10. So all in all, if you need something to do and want to stay on campus, the Reitz Union is the palace of activities galore.
Santa Fe College is also a huge part of Gainesville, and they offer interesting activities as well. The Kika Silva Pla Planetarium has stellar star shows set to the music of Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin. Admission to these shows is $4 with your Gator1. If you want to pull a Steve Irwin and know what an Scheltopusik or a Springbok is, Santa Fe also has a zoo, and admission is also $4 with your Gator1.
Feeling artsy? Head on over to the Museum of Natural History or the Harn Museum—both are free with your card, but they do accept small donations. The former has interesting exhibits that rotate year-round. For example, there is currently a Native American tribe set-up, so if taking an Instagram selfie with a plastic native chief is on your bucket list, I would recommend going. There is a beautiful butterfly rainforest that is home to over 1,000 butterflies of 80 different species. This miniature man-made ecosystem also has giant koi fish, baby turtles, and various songbirds. But remember to leave these creatures be. Don’t frantically grab one or try to take one home. This isn’t Viridian Forest from Pokémon…Don’t try to catch them all. The Harn is much more formal, with pieces of all media placed neatly around the building. The pieces vary from ancient American and African pieces to works by Goya and Dürer. If you really want to take home a souvenir, the museum has a penny-pressing machine that indents an image on a penny for about 75 cents, which is a great price for a souvenir.
If you want something more intimate, Gator Cinemas offers $2 movies everyday and $1 movies on Tuesday with your card. So smuggle bring your sweetie (and by sweetie I mean a bag full of Twizzlers and Mike & Ike’s) and enjoy the view of the back of people’s heads…and the movie, of course.
About 8 miles south of campus is Lake Wauburg, the hub of all things active. With your Gator1, you are free to boat, climb a wall, sail, water ski, wakeboard, and even disc golf. You can also bring up to 4 guests! (But don’t bring your sweetie from the movie theater; I don’t think Twizzlers are proper swimming noodles.)
So what are you waiting for? This college town of ours holds plenty of fantastically cheap activities! Don’t be afraid to take the midnight train…er…Later Gator going anywhere.