Want to experience an authentic side of Gainesville, Florida? Frequent fliers will tell you the best way to travel is to live like a local, and Gainesville has a number of under-the-radar attractions sure to make you feel like one. Here are eight places you must go if you want to live like a local in Gainesville.
1. Mother’s Pub
Located in downtown Gainesville, Mother’s Pub is a hole-in-the-wall sports bar with great food and cheap drinks. Head there on game day—or to watch football or rugby—and grab some shepherd’s pie, wings or fish-and-chips. Don’t miss the sweet potato fries on the side. Daily food and drink specials mean there’s never a bad time to go.
2. Crane Ramen
In the mood for some great ramen? Crane Ramen is where you want to be. Gainesville’s first craft ramen restaurant makes everything from scratch, so you can enjoy an authentic bowl of the comfort food. The spicy pulled pork paitan gets high marks, as does the chicken paitan. When you eat there, you’ll understand why the locals love it.
3. Retirement Home for Horses
Mill Creek Farm in Alachua is home to the Retirement Home for Horses, which is a truly unique and under-the-radar site. The not-for-profit horse farm cares for rescued and elderly (“retired”) horses, and visitors can go see them—but only one a day week. Stop by every Saturday afternoon. Two carrots will get you through the gate.
4. Karma Cream Ice Cream
Gainesville has a few popular ice cream shops, but if you want to avoid the tourists (and satisfy your vegan friends), stop by Karma Cream. This cafe serves all organic ice cream flavors in both vegan and dairy varieties. With tons of flavors like Earl Grey, lemon cookies, Indian chai and pistachio, you may need to make more than one trip before you leave.
5. The Talented Cookie Company
If you’re not after ice cream but still have a sweet tooth, don’t miss the selection of baked goods at The Talented Cookie Company in High Springs. The bakery is known for its custom sugar cookies sold online, which were so popular the owners opened a retail location. Gourmet cupcakes and cookies are baked daily, and they pair well with the Sweetwater Organic Coffee on the menu. Gluten-free and vegan options are also on the menu.
6. Squirrel Ridge Dog Park
Gainesville is a family-friendly destination, and that includes your four-legged family members. Take the dogs off the leash in the dog park tucked away in Squirrel Ridge Park. Locals know it’s the place to take their energetic dogs because of the space for them sprint and socialize with other dogs. A small pond in the park provides some fun relief in the warmer months, so take a towel if you want to protect your back seat.
7. Thornebrook Chocolates
Another local favorite for sweets is Thornebrook Chocolates. The shop has a wide selection of chocolate treats, from truffles to chocolate-covered almonds to chocolates in a variety of shapes. The chocolate-covered strawberries and potato chips attract repeat customers.
8. Food Truck Wednesdays at Innovation Square
What better way to get a taste of local flavors than with Gainesville’s favorite food trucks! Come out to Innovation Square during lunchtime on Wednesdays. You can take your food to go or mingle with locals picnic-style. A different food truck is on the menu each week. Follow @FoodTruckWedGNV on Twitter for updates.