Home to one of America's largest academic institutions, the University of Florida, Gainesville enjoys a distinctly college-town vibe, where the youthful energy manifests itself into a thirst for sports and music. The legacies of musical greats like Tom Petty and Bo Diddley has made the area one of the best in Florida for festivals and live music, while hotels fill up fast whenever there's a Florida Gators football game being played. Away from the student neighborhoods lie a number of lakes and conservation areas out of town, providing perfect places to stay to see wildlife or take in the fresh air.
Where to stayin Gainesville
Best Neighborhoods for Festivals
It's no surprise that the home of Tom Petty has a thriving music scene with a penchant for festivals. Stay in hotels near the Innovation District in the downtown area of Gainesville for the annual three-day October festival known as The Fest. It's held at numerous venues around Bo Diddley Plaza, named after the Rock and Roll legend. To the west of the city center, accommodations in Alachua and High Springs offer a quieter experience in towns known for their eco-tourism. Book rooms early during the annual Pioneer Days Festival, held in the historic downtown district of High Springs.
Where to Stay for Sports
The university's varsity team, the Florida Gators, has been a regular at the top of university sports rankings for decades. Book a hotel in downtown Gainesville to attend a game at the 90,000-seater Ben Hill Griffin Football Stadium - the largest in Florida - known as "The Swamp." Meanwhile, baseball and basketball teams from the University of Florida play games at various campus venues in the area. For something a little different, find accommodations further north in Waldo or Alachua to be closer to the Gainesville Raceway, a quarter-mile dragstrip that hosts regular races during the National Hot Rod Association season.