Story by Soumya Kona

So you’ve somehow found yourself in Gainesville, Florida for four years (give or take)!

Don’t let what you’ve heard about our city make you feel like your only options are going to parties or staying in. There are tons of things to do in and around Gainesville! While you might not have time to try everything during your time here, you can leave knowing you’ve made the most of your time. Here are the recommendations of Honors students’ favorite things to do in Gainesville.

Sweetwater Wetlands Park is located only about six miles from campus. It’s closed Saturdays, but open every other day from 7 a.m. to sunset! This is the place to be if you want to experience the real meaning of “welcome to the swamp”. Third-year biology major Nicole Lukowski highly recommends the park. “I really like wildlife, so I got really excited to see all the birds and gators and wild horses!” said Lukowski. “It was an amazing experience.”

Advice to first timers: “Before sunset is the best because the sky looks amazing, the water reflects the colors and all the animals are more active!”

Skate Station Funworks is an amusement center found a little over five miles from UF. The center is closed Mondays and Tuesdays, and its website includes hours for the rest of the week! (They’re a little random.) Public relations third-year Tanika McKenzie frequents the establishment and thoroughly enjoys it. “It’s a pretty fun place,” she said. “Like I’m in college, but I can still have kid moments.” The center has a range of activities, from roller-skating to go-karts, and is a great go-to for a casual weekend!

Advice: “Definitely bring more than two friends, make it a group activity! It’s a nice way to build a group and experience something new with other people.”

Lake Wauburg is an exciting destination a little further from campus at around 13 miles away. You can drive there or take a bus! Entrance is even free with your Gator1 card, as is any equipment you rent while there. The lake has opportunities to go kayaking, paddle-boarding and rock-climbing. One second-year finance major, Dhruvi Contractor, said about her experience, “It was super fun and a great way to bond with my friends!” The lake is a great place to go when you have a free day and the Gainesville heat is getting to you. “It’s a good way to get active and use the resources UF gives us!” said Contractor.

Advice: “Just get excited and embrace the nature!”

What our Honors gators have recommended is only a fraction of the experiences awaiting you during your time at UF. No matter what you’re interested in, you’ll find your niche in Gainesville!