Downtown Gainesville is at the heart of a city that glows small-town charm as it radiates a lively and welcoming invitation to its visitors. Lined with quaint shops, restaurants, theaters and peaceful parks, it draws visitors in to share Gainesville's story.
If you're planning your visit to Gainesville, you'll want to see and experience these places for yourself. Here are a few of our favorite things to do downtown.
Just east of the University of Florida, downtown Gainesville is considered the area around University Avenue and Main Street. It has much to offer visitors during the day and even more at night. From modern shopping centers to old-fashioned movie theaters, you could spend an entire weekend exploring and still not see all downtown has to offer. You're sure to discover a wide array of activities, shops and restaurants to explore that offer something for everyone.
There are so many popular restaurants to choose from. Team favorites include Dragonfly Sushi & Sake
, Boca Fiesta
, Crane Ramen
, Paramount Grill
, The Top
, Satchel's Pizza
and Big Lou's NY Style Pizzeria
. You could make an entire day out of experiencing the cuisine alone, but if you do, be sure to visit some of the unique boutiques along the way!
Downtown Gainesville comes to life at night. There's never a dull moment when you can relive your favorite childhood games at The Arcade Bar
. Or, if live music is your thing, you can meet local and passing musicians as they play at the Hardback Cafe. Downtown Gainesville is also home to award-winning local breweries (be sure to read our blog on local breweries).
Union Street Station
Union Street Station, Gainesville Source: unionstreetstation.com
You won't be catching a train at Union Street Station
— the station is a shopping and dining destination lined with pavement cafes, retail therapy and is perfect for people watching. A five-story residential and office building on top, the ground floor is full of top shops and great eateries. You'll find a colorful, captivating collage of food, fashion, fun and lifestyle.
Visitors come to experience downtown dining at local favorites such as Marks Prime Steakhouse
, Dragonfly Sushi
, and Relish Big Tasty Burgers
. After grabbing a bite to eat or coffee, enjoy a curated collection of vinyl records at Hear Again Music
or one-of-a-kind gifts and artwork at Artisans' Guild Gallery
Union Street Station, 201 SE 2nd Ave., Gainesville, FL 32601
West University Avenue
West University Avenue is an active and energetic part of the city where you can always find things to do. It's packed with bars, clubs, restaurants, shops, gyms and movie theaters, making it one of the best areas in Gainesville for nightlife. You'll find plenty of opportunities to dance and grab a cocktail here.
West University Avenue can also be used as a jumping-off point for many other local attractions. Whether you're headed to the nature reserves up north or the museums and art galleries down south, you can make your start on West University Avenue and easily find your turn-off.
Find out more about the Gainesville attractions nearby.
A fun and fit way to see downtown Gainesville is by renting a bike and cycling through the urban and park areas. Visit the Zagster bike share at Rosa Parks Station on South East Second Street. Take a self-guided tour around the streets of the downtown district on any of the many cycleways.
Feel free to stop whenever the urge arises to check out places to eat or shop. If you're feeling adventurous, take the Sixth Street Rail Trail, which is a combination of urban and country or head to Loblolly Woods Nature Park for a dose of nature.
Hippodrome Theatre Source: thehipp.org
Catch a slice of Broadway in downtown Gainesville at the Hippodrome Theatre
, or "The Hipp." The Hipp is Gainesville's cultural centerpiece offering live theatre, films, gallery exhibits, classes and special events over 340 days a year. The Hipp presents top-quality theatrical programming with Broadway, off-Broadway and regional titles.
A downtown must-see, The Hipp has been delighting audiences for over 40 years. Be sure to catch your favorite musicals, comedies, dramas and holiday productions while you're visiting.
Hippodrome Theatre, 25 SE 2nd Place, Gainesville, FL 32601 Phone 352-375-4477 (Box Office)
Loosey's Downtown Source: looseys.com
Wander into Loosey's Downtown
on South West First Avenue for a refreshing craft beer, and soon you'll feel just like a local. You'll find a large variety of U.S. craft beers to satisfy any craving, regionally sourced foods made from local ingredients and enjoy live music performed by Gainesville musicians.
Be sure to enjoy the local favorites – two-bite tacos, the chef's special mac ‘n cheese or fried shrimp seafood dinner, all while sipping on the featured beer of the month. Catch a local show or team up for trivia while sharing a cold one with your friends.
Loosey's Downtown, 120 SW 1st Ave., Gainesville, FL 32601 Phone 352-672-6465
Simon's Nightclub Source: Facebook
If you're looking for a night of club dancing and electronic music, Simon's Nightclub
is the place to be. An iconic nightclub in the 1990s, Simon's has earned its position as a premier nightspot in Gainesville through to the present.
The club has a super chic and ultramodern interior, large dance floor, high-tech lighting and top DJs who know how to make the place come to life. Simon's also hosts regular events such as Glowrage fluorescent parties, Freestyle Fridays and Social Saturdays.
Simon's Nightclub, 8 S. Main St., Gainesville, FL 32601 Phone 352-448-9915
Downtown Gainesville is bustling with retail therapy, quaint cafes and delicious food options during the day, and comes to life at night. Want to make the experience complete? Stay with us during your visit at Hotel ELEO at the University of Florida. We're conveniently located and offer welcoming accommodations to help you recharge while exploring all that downtown Gainesville has to offer.