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University of Florida is full of natural and architectural charm. (Source: University Relations)

University of Florida is full of natural and architectural charm. (Source: University Relations)

Gainesville is home to the University of Florida, the nation’s ninth largest university campus by enrollment, as well as to Santa Fe College. The Gainesville MSA was ranked as the #1 place to live in North America in the 2007 edition of Cities Ranked and Rated. Also in 2007, Gainesville was ranked as one of the “best places to live and play” in the United States by National Geographic Adventure. Numerous guides such as the 2004 book Cities Ranked and Rated: More than 400 Metropolitan Areas Evaluated in the U.S. and Canada have mentioned Gainesville’s low cost of living. The restaurants near the University of Florida also tend to be inexpensive. The median home cost remains slightly below the national average, and Gainesville residents, like all Floridians, do not pay state income taxes.

Arts & Culture

Gainesville is known as a supporter of the visual arts. Each year, two large art festivals attract artists and visitors from all over the southeastern United States.

Cultural facilities include the Florida Museum of Natural History, Harn Museum of Art, the Hippodrome State Theatre, and the Curtis M. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts. Smaller theaters include the Acrosstown Repertory Theatre (ART) and the Gainesville Community Playhouse (GCP). GCP is the oldest community theater group in Florida; in 2006, it christened a new theater building.

The presence of a major university enhances the city’s opportunities for cultural lifestyles. The University of Florida College of the Arts is the umbrella college for the School of Music, School of Theatre and Dance, School of Art and Art History, and a number of other programs and centers including The University Galleries, the Center for World Art, and Digital Worlds. Collectively, the College offers many performance events and artist/lecture opportunities for students and the greater Gainesville community, the majority of which are offered at little or no cost.

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Students attend Pop-Up Culture on campus. (Source: University Relations)

Since 1989, Gainesville has been home to Theatre Strike Force, the University of Florida‘s premier improv troupe. In addition Gainesville also plays host to several sketch comedy troupes and stand-up comedians.

  • The Spring Arts Festival, hosted each year, usually in early April, by Santa Fe College (formerly Santa Fe Community College), is one of the three largest annual events in Gainesville and is known for its high quality, unique artwork.
  • The nationally recognized The Downtown Festival and Art Show, hosted each fall by the City of Gainesville, attracts award-winning artists and draws a crowd of more than 100,000.
  • The Hoggetowne Medieval Faire has attracted thousands of fairgoers for over 20 years.
  • The Gainesville Improv Festival provides a venue for new talent.

 

Music

Gainesville is well known for its music scene and has spawned a number of bands and musicians, including Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Stephen Stills, Don Felder and Bernie Leadon of The Eagles, The Motels,Against Me!, Less Than Jake, Hot Water Music, Loyal Revival, John Vanderslice, Sister Hazel, Hundred Waters, and For Squirrels. It is also currently the location of independent labels No Idea Records and Elestial Sound, and it is also the former home of Plan-It-X Records, which moved to Bloomington, Indiana. For two years, the Gainesville non-profit Harvest of Hope Foundation hosted the Harvest of Hope Festival in St. Augustine, Florida. Gainesville is also the home of www.FLAROCKS.com, the founders of ‘Santa Jam’ who hold concerts every December throughout North Florida as a toy fundraiser for sick, injured, and homeless children, as well as being a local musician showcase. Since 2011 they have distributed nearly 700 toys to hospitals, local churches & homeless charities, and to needy families across the area.

No Idea Records puts on an annual three-day rock festival known as The Fest, which typically occurs during the last weekend in October, coinciding with the annual Florida-Georgia football game (played in Jacksonville) to minimize tensions between the largely out of town music festival goers with the University of Florida students and alumni.

Sports

The Florida Gators is the varsity team of the University of Florida, and competes at the Southeastern Conference of the National Collegiate Athletic Association since 1933. It has been ranked in the top 10 in the NACDA ranking since the 1983–84 season. it has won 32 national team championships, including two men’s basketball titles, three football titles, four men’s golf titles, and six women’s tennis titles.

The Gainesville Raceway is a dragstrip opened in 1969 that hosts the Gatornationals, one of the four NHRA major races.

Bats emerge nightly from the UF Bat Barn. (Source: University Relations)

Sight-seeing