#9. Gainesville, FL
Why It’s a Great Place to Go to College: With great weather and beautiful scenery, it’s easy to understand why more than 55,000 students choose to attend the University of Florida in Gainesville. Those same students who excel at everything from engineering to business also turn out to support the school’s Division I football team at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, affectionately referred to as “The Swamp,” a reference to the university’s team name, the Gators.
Why It’s a Great Place to Live (Even If You’re Not a Student): Though Gainesville and the university are intimately linked to one another, this northern Florida city has lots to offer, even if you’re not studying in one of UF’s 16 colleges. If you love spend time outdoors or learning about nature, Gainesville’s got you covered. Sweetwater Wetlands Park, for example, offers 125 acres of ponds and wetlands, where you’ll see tons of native plants and animals. Downtown Gainesville is also great for shopping, eating, drinking, live theater and nightlife.
What Sets It Apart From Other College Towns: Gainesville offers a unique mix of outdoor recreation, nightlife, arts and culture and other city amenities, making it a great place to live. Whether you’re a die-hard Gators fan or you want to wake up early on the weekends to go kayaking or fishing, you can do your own thing in Gainesville while getting an awesome education.
Iconic Pizza Place: Satchel’s Pizza
Brunch Spot: 43rd Street Deli & Breakfast House
Tailgating Must-Have: A blue or orange shirt that says “Chomp” on it, a reference to the UF Gators mascot.
Shopping Street: Union Street Station Pedestrian Mall
Best Local Hangover Cure: A (very) slow stroll through Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park, which has eight hiking trails to help you clear your head.
Best Place to Grab a Cheap Beer: Mother’s Pub and Grill
Local Dream Job: Any member of “The Croc Docs” team, a group of UF biologists and other experts who study — you guessed it — crocodiles, alligators and other animals.