Hi! Welcome to Abby and Caroline’s Gainesville Survival Guide! We are a big/little duo and members of Chi Omega! With 5 years of experience in Gainesville (combined!), we have lots of advice for surviving the Swamp! Here is our certified sorority girl opinion on making the best out of your time in Gainesville. We’ve spent hours exploring campus and finding the best spots in Gainesville, and we wanted to share some of our favorite places and things. From food to adventures to how to make the most of campus, we’ve created a one-stop shop for how to live, laugh, love Gainesville!
Being the center of student life, UF’s campus has some great places to explore! We recommend finding your favorite study spots and enjoying all that campus has to offer.
Take advantage of outdoor spaces!
Set up a hammock by Lake Alice or bring a picnic blanket to enjoy a busy Plaza of the Americas! We love eating lunch outside (especially in the Chi Omega courtyard) to enjoy the weather and people watch. We also recommend the dock on Lake Wauburg– great for reading and tanning!
Hot girl walks! - This is a classic way to learn your way around campus and find some fun new places. Go find all of the gator statues, and take selfies with the Heismans (especially Abby’s favorite, Tim Tebow)!
Sweetberries! - Gainesville’s most popular date spot turned on-campus dining! We love making the same custard order and comparing how many chocolate chips we get.
Smathers Library - Our favorite not-so-secret study spot on campus. A real life Hogwarts library perfect for studying chemistry (Abby!) and physiology (Caroline!).
Gainesville is known for its food! When all else fails, there’s always a new restaurant or food truck to try. We recommend trying the classics (like Satchel’s!) and finding your own favorites. Ask your friends and your professors for their recommendations, and make a list of everything you want to try while you’re here so you’ll never be out of options! Here are some of our favorites to get you started:
4th Ave. Food Park - This is where we went on our first big/little date! 4th Ave is super close to campus and has pizza, tacos, ice cream, bagels, and so much more, all with live music and a great atmosphere.
Afternoon - The best brunch in GNV! We love getting cinnamon rolls, orange juice (Caroline!) and iced coffee (Abby!).
Luke’s Bagels - Luke’s is a Gainesville classic! HUGE bagels with so many flavors. If you love a good breakfast sandwich, this place is for you! And, our littlest (Caroline’s little!) works there!
Flaco’s - A great little Cuban place that is open late enough to satisfy all your nighttime cravings. Pastries, bowls, arepas, they have it all! A quesito is known to fix everything.
Gainesville is a great place to explore! Caroline is devoted to finding the best adventures in the area, and Abby just loves going along with her. When you think you’ve found all of the fun things nearby, try exploring Alachua County and the surrounding area! There is so much going on, and sometimes you have to step off campus to find it. Here are some of our favorite adventures that aren’t too far from home:
Ichetucknee Springs - This is the perfect day trip on a sunny day! The springs are less than an hour from campus and nothing says Florida more. Pack a lunch, grab your inner tubes, and pile in the car for a float down the Ichetucknee River!
Cedar Key - The best spot to catch the sunset on the West coast of Florida! We love enjoying ice cream while chatting and watching the sun go down over the Gulf.
Amber Brooke Farms - We! Love! Strawberry picking! This farm in Williston has strawberries, blueberries, peaches, and sunflowers for all of your fresh fruit and photo taking needs! They also have festivals during peak seasons! Highly recommended.
Paynes Prairie - Another great sunset spot and Gainesville classic! You can drive right up (less than 10 mins!) to the most stunning sunset for miles around. Fun Fact: our first selfie was taken here.
Butterfly Rainforest at the Florida Museum of Natural History - This one is right on campus and a must-see! The butterflies are gorgeous year-round (free with your student ID), and the museum is so much fun on a rainy day.
GO LINE DANCING Our last and most important tip. To complete a Caroline and Abby tour of GNV, you MUST make a trip to Vivid Music Hall. We have been inseparable since our first night together in our cowgirl boots! Nothing makes retired competition dancers happier than picking up new dances on a Thursday night. If you’re looking for a fun new activity, a way to relive your dancing years, or your new best friend, this is your place!
With love, Chi Omega Sisters Abby McDade and Caroline Cosby