Monday, 14 May 2012 14:20
School’s out for summer, and whether you’re a recent grad, or you’re just plain glad (for less traffic, that is), we’re in a summer vacation type of mood. Lucky for us, we live in a state that many only see for spring break or Disney. We polled readers, friends and writers to see what they were most looking forward to without leaving Gainesville (for long).
Here are the top 10 best things about spending summer in Gator Nation.
By Rachel Rakoczy
Pools are as much a fixture of Gainesville summers as lizards and late nights. Free drinks, food and music from local DJs (plus pools of college students) make apartment complexes like the Estates the place to be on hot Saturday afternoons.
EASY WEEKEND GETAWAYS
If you do choose to head out of town for a day, Gainesville is only a short drive from Ginnie Springs, where for $12 you can spend the day floating down the Santa Fe River. If you're ready for an adventure, try scuba diving or camping overnight. Bob's Riverplace provides a similar experience on the Suwannee River.
St. Augustine was another popular reader favorite. The nation's oldest city has Spanish forts, a pretty beach and tons of small shops and restaurants to pass the day wandering outside. If you're there after the sun sets, be prepared to be spooked. The Ghost Tours of St. Augustine promise a good time without special effects. Tours are held every night for about $20.
WALKS IN THE PARK
Spend a sunny day with Mother Nature. Have a picnic in Paynes Prairie or take a bike ride on the (shaded) 16-mile Gainesville-Hawthorne Trail for a peaceful day outdoors. Stop and smell the roses—and all the other flowers—at the Kanapaha Botanical Gardens just off Archer Road, too.
We're not just talking about the red light-runners or standstills on Archer Road (though that's a plus). We mean at the bar. In the summer, celebrate being able to walk up to the bar and order without having to elbow your way in.
Go from pool to school (and vice-versa). The hot summer makes it OK to show up almost anywhere in a sundress beach cover-up—as long as you pack your umbrella, too.
Gainesville may not have a view of the ocean, but you can still have a beach day. UF's Lake Wauburg is the perfect place. Grab some friends (a University of Florida ID is good for you and your four closest friends) and toss a Frisbee, get some sun or take a dip in the lake. North Park is open Tuesday to Friday 12 to 6pm, and South Shore is open from 1pm to 6pm Tuesday through Friday. Both are open weekends from 10am to 6pm.
The summer is a great time to explore the city's secrets. Visit Thornebrook Village for a shopping day, or try a new place to get your groceries: the Citizens Co-Op. Explore the Harn Museum's new Asian Wing while basking in the A/C.
Thanks to former President Ronald Reagan, July is national ice cream month—but we like to prepare early. PopStop popsicles from the Farmers Market or sorbet from the Gelato Company are the perfect treat after a day at the pool.
Learn something new. The Krishna House offers vegetarian cooking lessons on Wednesdays at 7pm, and the Wine and Cheese Gallery and Half Cork'd offer wine tastings and classes. Check their website for the theme and remember to sign up in advance.
Relax on a hot summer night with a cool show. The Hippodrome Theatre, Acrosstown Repertory Theatre and Gainesville Community Playhouse all have performances this summer. Catch Hamlet and the Prince Formerly Known as Hamlet at Acrosstown Repertory Theatre or Agnes of God at Gainesville Community Playhouse this month. (Plus, watch out for Hairspray at the Gainesville Community Playhouse in July).
Sounds fresh from the pages of the magazine