A female college student walks across campus at the University of Florida.

Courtesy of Visit Gainesville

#7. Gainesville

Perhaps best known for being home of the University of Florida and its Gator Nation, the city of Gainesville, FL offers residents and students much more than a collection of sports teams and rowdy bars. Nationally known museums of art and natural history, historic architecture, pristine parks and a decadent array of restaurants help make Gainesville one of the Top 10 Best College Towns 2015. With an enrollment of nearly 50,000 students annually, the university’s presence in Gainesville is hard to miss.

See where Gainesville ranked on our list of the Best Cities for Centrists 2014.

Thousands of UF students participate in community service projects through the Center for Leadership and Service. The university hosts a series of breakfasts each year the bring together campus and community leaders to discuss timely issues and possible partnerships. Many colleges at the university offer community outreach programs that introduce local high school students to various subjects and careers. The university’s strong connection to the city is what helped it land a spot on our previous list of Top 10 Best College Towns 2013.

Living in Gainesville puts you close to world-class fishing and snorkeling sites as well as places to canoe, kayak and scuba dive. City and regional parks like Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park or Morningside Nature Center provide opportunities to hike and explore unique natural areas. Students and residents often gather in Gainesville’s downtown, the symbolic heart of the city which features many local shops, restaurants and cultural institutions such as the Hippodrome State Theater and the Bo Diddley Community Plaza. Several breweries such as First Magnitude, Tall Paul’s and Swamp Head deliver local craft beer to those old enough to enjoy. A strong art scene in Gainesville keeps students and residents inspired and entertained. 

Fun Fact: The University of Florida has a Bat House and Barn which is home to more than 250,000 bats that venture out each night and come back by day break.


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