Come this Easter weekend, it will have been exactly four years ago that I was lying on the beach at night, back home in Sarasota, with my best friend talking about how we couldn’t believe freshman year was almost over. Even more so, we couldn’t believe that in three years, we’d be right back there talking about how fast all of college went. But as graduation gets closer, that’s becoming a lot easier to believe.
Whether you’ve been counting down the days, or hiding the calendar in denial, you simply can’t graduate and leave Gainesville without saying you’ve had the true UF experience, even in the most unconventional ways.
1. Experience the Gainesville pizza
Yes, Blaze is the perfect transformation of Chipotle into pizza, and Piesano’s is a “parent-worthy” pizzeria, but nothing tops Gainesville originals – or sitting in a van eating your pizza.
2. Run stadiums
If for nothing more, then at least to say you’ve done it.
3. Stay for an entire football game
It’s tempting to follow the herd making a mass exodus after you fulfill the obligation to stay for the “We Are the Boys of Old Florida” song, but be a trooper and stick it out – just once.
4. Visit First Magnitude
To drink or not to drink (soda, of course) is not the question – the question is who will win at a game of life-sized Jenga. Plus, the owner is the honors-beloved John Denny.
5. Resist (or give into) temptation at Saturday morning puppy adoptions
If you’re a frequent visitor on Archer Road, then you know exactly what those white tents outside of PetSmart mean every Saturday morning – adoption time. Whether you’re looking to adopt or just squeal for an hour or two over the irresistible cuteness, you have to make a visit here before looking at puppies no longer constitutes a productive morning.
6. Take your Halloween to the corn maze
Unfortunately, this one is seasonal, but carpooling out to Roger’s Farm to pretend you’re a little kid again going through the haunted corn maze (actually, some of them are pretty scary) is a must for a Halloween in Gainesville.
7. Frequent Dunkin Happy Hour for $1 coffee
Fits the college budget, but yes, you can do this anywhere. However, visiting the outdoors Dunkin on University Ave so often with your dog that everyone knows his name (but not yours, of course) is a bit more on the college-side
8. Take advantage of the great Mother’s deals
No, I’m not talking about your mother offering to your laundry – although, if she’s offering, I suggest saying yes. I’m referring to Mother’s (on University) offering $0.40 wings every Monday night and $3 burgers every Wednesday night. Not much more says “college” than fighting over a table at a bar to get absolutely delicious yet unhealthy food with the few bucks you have in your pocket.
9. Waste away your day in Wauburg-ville
If you choose to go for the Jimmy Buffet style, that’s up to you. Gainesville might be all farmland, but you can’t leave without taking advantage of the one not-so-Gainesville-like experience: Lake Wauburg. There’s nothing like wasting away a day soaking up the sun in between cycles of midterms.
10. Visit The Swamp Restaurant
Whether you’re there from 9-11 on a Friday night or just there for an average lunch, nothing represents the Gator spirit (sometimes with spirits) more than the restaurant named after the home to us all.