by By the Editors | October 13, 2022

18 Places to Dine, Drink and Discover in Gainesville

From game days to new plays, here are our favorite spots in Gator Country.

Above from left: Century Tower, Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, the Hippodrome Theatre, the University of Florida bat houses, Satchel’s Pizza; Illustration by Leslie Chalfont.
  1. HIPPODROME THEATRE Heralded as the city’s cultural centerpiece, the historic theatre screens vintage films, hosts a robust season of plays and houses a permanent art gallery. It’s a gathering place for artists and aesthetes alike. 25 SE Second Place
  2. THE TOP A hipster hotspot known for both its inventive vegan dishes and its hearty burgers, making it beloved by carnivores and veg-heads. 30 N. Main St.
  3. DEPOT PARK What was once a toxic rail yard has become the green hub of Gainesville. Rollerskate through the conservation area or channel your inner child at the splash park. 874 SE Fourth St.
  4. FIRST MAGNITUDE BREWING CO. Help save our springs with every sip at this downtown tap room, which pours everything from hazy IPAs to mouth-puckering sour ales and has raised over $60,000 for the Florida Springs Institute. 1220 SE Veitch St.
  5. CADE MUSEUM Creativity is king at this museum made to spark inspiration. Wander the Milky Way, meet mothers of innovation, and quench your thirst for knowlege with the creator of Gatorade—the institution’s namesake. 811 S. Main St. 
  6. HEARTWOOD SOUNDSTAGE This intimate listening room and recording studio is known for its acoustic perfection. From local folk bands to national acts, hear music the way it was intended—up close and personal. 619 S. Main St.
  7. DRAGONFLY SUSHI Fish flown in from Japan combine with the freshest local produce to create the finest sushi and sashimi in the Swamp. Unsure what to order? Roll with the staff favorites menu. 201 SE Second Ave. Suite 104
  8. MADRINA’S No $2 PBR’s here. Escape the college crowd when you steal a stool at this intimate cocktail bar. Whether you order a classic or a crazy creation, these bartenders know the secret to the perfect pour. 9 W. University Ave. 
  9. BEN HILL GRIFFIN STADIUM Cheer for the orange and blue in all kinds of weather at the largest stadium in the Sunshine State. Remember, in Swamp Country, it’s always right over left. 157 Gale Lemerand Drive
  10. CRANE RAMEN Even diehard ramen savants will be impressed by this downtown haunt serving scratch-made ramen in bowls as big as your head. Slurping is encouraged. 16 SW First Ave.
  11. EMBERS WOOD GRILL This upscale steakhouse speaks to the finer things in life, right down to the beef hand-selected for its perfect marbling, decadent chocolate cookies and milk. 3545 SW 34th St. Suite A
  12. LUBEE BAT CONSERVANCY Spend the afternoon with sky puppies at this facility specializing in the care of endangered bats. Feed the furry flyers kebabs, meet some rare residents and learn how this nonprofit brings bats back from the brink. 1309 NW 192nd Ave.
  13. CYM COFFEE CO. This quaint house with a sprawling porch is actually one of the city’s most beloved coffee shops. Swing by for a specialty latte or hunker down in a bean bag with a good book. 5404 NW Eighth Ave.
  14. FLORIDA MUSEUM OF NATURAL HISTORY Venture where dinosaurs still roam and the Calusa still reign when you visit this small but mighty museum on UF’s campus. Don’t skip the Butterfly Rainforest, where blue-spotted charaxes flutter freely. 3215 Hull Road
  15. SATCHEL’S PIZZA Equal parts wacky and well-executed, this eclectic pizzeria has been serving up slices since 2003. Enjoy a pie in a plane or surrounded by stained glass handmade by Satchel himself. 1800 NE 23rd Ave.
  16. PAYNE’S PRAIRIE PRESERVE Buddy up to bison, encounter alligators and reconnect with raw Florida at this sprawling state park. If you’re itching for a gator sighting, La Chua Trail and Bolen Bluff Trail are popular hangouts for the heavyweights. 100 Savannah Blvd.
  17. SWAMP HEAD BREWERY Whether you opt to sling back a Stump Knocker pale ale or whet your whistle with a Wild Night honey cream ale, the brews at this inherently Floridian watering hole are well loved and world class. 3650 SW 42nd Ave.
  18. KANAPAHA BOTANICAL GARDENS Enormous Victoria water lilies, towering Chinese royal bamboo and blooming Asian snake arums flourish throughout these 68 acres of tropical flora. 4700 SW 58th Drive