Top Things to Do in Downtown Gainesville
Home to a colorful collection of fantastic eateries, museums, breweries and parks, downtown Gainesville is a fun place to spend a day or more exploring on a trip to Gainesville. Reservations aren’t required for many of the activities downtown—the place to go to try new craft brews, take a self-guided foodie tour or ride bikes with your friends. Here is your guide to some of the cool things to do in downtown Gainesville.
Gainesville Food Tours
Get the best out of Gainesville’s culinary scene by joining a three-hour food tour downtown. Gainesville Food Tours consist of highly-rated restaurants, and guides lead visitors to sample some of the featured dishes. Among the stops are venues like Emiliano’s Cafe and The Hyppo Gourmet Ice Pops—both local favorites. Each tour involves up to five or six restaurants, so it’s advised for participants to arrive on an empty stomach.
Florida Fun Bikes
Why explore the downtown area by foot with your friends when you can do it with fun bikes? Owners Derrick and Amber Robinson thought Gainesville should have its extra perks after exploring Europe on fun bikes, which are essentially pubs on wheels. The human-powered vehicles hold up to 16 pedaling passengers (and one driver) at a time, making it a perfect outing for weddings, bachelor/bachelorette parties, tailgating and corporate events. The eco-friendly fun bike can take a group through downtown and midtown for a fun day out.
Located in Tall Paul’s, Alligator Brewing is a popular nanobrewery for locals and beer connoisseurs. The brewery takes pride in its small business practice and innovative approaches toward old-style beer making methods. The brewery maintains a traditional New England-style atmosphere while tackling creative, new flavors. Among the flavors worth checking out are Squirrel Wrangler (nut brown), Tail Gator (pale ale), White Widow (Belgian Wit) and the award-winning Smoke Habanero beer. Inside, walls are full of vintage movie posters, and the historic building it’s housed in dates back to the 1880s.
Luckily, downtown Gainesville is filled with lively entertainment options. The Hippodrome Theatre, or example, has been a landmark in downtown Gainesville for more than 40 years. It’s a spot to catch classic productions of shows like “The Elephant Man” or quirky spin-off shows like “The Toxic Avenger.” For a more social outing, swing by The Backyard at Boca Fiesta where a large outdoor bar is outfitted with a big television, a full stage and comfy seating. This is the ideal place to kick back and enjoy local live bands and a few cocktails with friends. Other entertainment venues in downtown include Bo Diddly Plaza, Wooly, High Drive, The Atlantic, Hard Back and Florida Theater.
Check out the local culinary scene in downtown Gainesville by hitting some of the area’s highly praised restaurants. Swing by Hogtown MOJO BBQ, a hip new spot where you can get a comfort food fix by ordering plates of pulled pork, beef brisket burnt ends and mac and cheese. Foodies looking to be more adventurous can sample global flavors at Flaco's Cuban Bakery, Dragonfly Sushi, Crane Ramen, Omi's Plaza Azul, Sababa and Emiliano's Cafe. And you can't go wrong with pizza at Big Lou's or italian at Manuel's and Amelia's.
For something a little lighter, consider POP-A-TOP for salads, juice or fruit. Harry's for fresh seafood. In the morning, have brunch at Maude's or The Jones for eggs and warm toast to start the day. And for meat lovers, Loosey's, Original American Kitchen, Relish and Paramount Grill may hit the spot.
Another fun spot to check out is the Arcade Bar, home to a cool collection of vintage arcade games and pinball machines where you can also order great appetizers and drinks. Other popular nighttime joints to for good music and drink craft beers are The Bull, The Dime and Loosey's Pub.
South Main (alternatively known as ‘SOMA’) is a bustling street in downtown and is home to various small businesses and organizations that helped transform and reinvigorate downtown Gainesville. The SOMA Art Hub is an active gallery and art supply store with a mission to promote talented local artists by showcasing their works and making them available for retail. Another one-of-a-kind small business is the LEJ Pretzel Company that makes fun flavors in all sizes and shapes. Other spots to stop in throughout SOMA include ART, Freecycle, First Magnitude Brewing Company, Daily Green, Gainesville Fine Arts Association, and coming soon: Depot Park and the Cade Museum of Discovery and Invention.