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Preview Weekends - a Guide for Parent is text over an image of two hands holding glasses of champagne
16 Jun 2022
College Life
Posted by
Alyssa Hockensmith

Preview Weekends

Preview Weekends at the University of Florida - A Guide for the Parents

Congratulations and welcome to the legacy of the University of Florida! Your child has gotten into the University of Florida, and now you're all headed to Gainesville to learn what being a Gator is all about. But, while they're mingling with future classmates and setting up their first university schedules, you're left to explore the town they'll call home for the next four years.


Here's a guide of ways to spend your two days in Gainesville during Preview.


Note: There are some activities that the University of Florida has planned for parents and families to attend, but in case you're on information overload, here are some other options for you.



For a small town, there are many great places that are perfect for your brief two-day trip to this college town. Covey Kitchen + Cocktails, located on the main level of Hotel ELEO at the University of Florida, is a fan favorite and was voted one of the top 100 restaurants in the USA. One of the best things about exploring Gainesville is getting to know the local food haunts. Suggestions below!



For something small, check out Luke's New York Bagels, located on Main Street in Downtown. Owned and run by Gator alum, Luke Vescovi, this breakfast place opened its doors in March 2020 and has since become a popular breakfast spot for locals and tourists alike. Bagels are made in-house with a New York Water Maker to give it that authentic, New York flavor. Call-ahead orders seem to be your best bet because this family-owned place can get busy. They're open from 7 a.m. - 1 p.m. Tuesday-Sunday.


A family-friendly, casual dining option serving breakfast all day can be found at Gainesville's branch of The Flying Biscuit located on 16th Blvd., outside of the typical campus perimeter. Make no mistake, this place is frequented by anyone and everyone who enjoys the comfort of southern cuisine. Famous for their grits, and obviously, their biscuits, this place will bring a small-town neighborhood feel alongside simple food that tastes great. They're open Monday-Friday 7:30 a.m. - 2:30 p.m. and Saturday & Sunday 7:30 a.m. - 3:00 p.m.


A fan-favorite breakfast place in Gainesville is the Peach Valley Cafe, located on 34th Street. They make great-tasting food with fresh ingredients. One of the top items on the menu are their fresh apple fritters tossed tableside in brown sugar. They're perfect to have as a starter or a finisher to your breakfast or to take to-go for later. Aside from these delectable fritters, they also have all your traditional breakfast favorites. There's a little something for everyone here. They're open Monday-Sunday 7:00 a.m. - 2:30 p.m.



If you have looked up food places to go in Gainesville, you have already heard about the out-of-the-way-but-totally-worth-it brilliance that is Satchel's Pizza. But, did you know that there's another place serving up Detroit-style square pizzas and waffles aptly called Satch Squared, located in the Fourth Avenue Food Park? Well, there is. Like Satchel's Pizza, this location boasts using only the freshest locally sourced ingredients for everything they make. This location has only been open since 2020, but these guys have been in the pizza game for a lot longer than that. Experience something a little different for a change. They're open from Sunday - Thursday, 8 a.m. - 10 p.m. and Friday - Saturday, 8 a.m. - midnight.


Another inhabitant of the Fourth Avenue Food Park is Sublime Tacos. They serve tacos, quesadillas, and elotes along with some other favorites. They have both a restaurant and food truck for you to enjoy anywhere. They boast fresh ingredients to create bold flavors in their creations and their success is in the name...the flavors are sublime. They have a wide variety of proteins and flavors to suit anyone's palette. They're open Thursday-Sunday, 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.


Another great place to grab dinner in Gainesville is The Top. Located on North Main Street in Downtown Gainesville, this eclectic hidden gem serves up phenomenal food with even cooler vibes. They cater to vegan, vegetarian, and meat-loving crowds, and also serve up craft cocktails and over 33 rotating drafts. One of the best things on the menu is the Top Nachos, which combine two types of gooey melted cheese with other ingredients to give you the messiest, best-tasting nacho experience of your life. They're open Tuesday-Sunday 5 p.m.-2 a.m.


For a more upscale, relaxed dining experience, Covey Kitchen + Cocktails is the place to be. Covey Kitchen + Cocktails offers a stellar menu crafted by Chef Charlie Keller with a focus on American cuisine with global influences. There is always something new at Covey. New dishes are added to the menu based on the season and freshest ingredients available. BE sure to try one of their creative, hand-crafted cocktails. 



Now that you're officially tantalized by some of the great food options in Gainesville, let's look at some of the fun things to do while you're in town.


Looking to explore some of the outdoors around town? Definitely check out Devil's Millhopper Geological State Park, which is a giant sinkhole that stretches 120 feet deep and 500 feet wide. There's an easy nature trail that allows you to overlook the sinkhole that is filled with water and has three distinct ecosystems that developed because of this ecological anomaly. But, if you want some nature on UF's campus, check out Lake Alice (and, if you want to see the famous bat house, check it out just before sunset). Lake Alice used to be home to the indigenous Alachua culture and was an important site for them. Today, it is a wildlife area where you can see alligators basking in the sun. There are trails and boardwalks surrounding the lake to give you a better look at this beautiful bit of nature.


If you're looking for a parents-only escape while your child is experiencing their overnight preview of college life, look no further than the Bluefield Estate Winery. The Bluefield Estate Winery is a family-owned and operated winery located just outside of Gainesville. While it's not super fancy, it is real. It was established by a couple who were experimenting with blueberries and grapes in their kitchen and discovered how to make delicious wine. It's something unique and different for you to experience while you're in town.

From our Summer blog, you can also find out about live music, outdoor adventures and even arts and culture to be enjoyed this summer. 

When you are ready to jsut chill, Gainesville is home to award-winning breweries that offer live music, events, and more. Read our Beer Blog for more information. 




There are plenty of places to shop while you're in Gainesville. There's Butler Plaza on Archer Road for your traditional big box stores (Target, Walmart, etc.). Or, there's the Oaks Mall on 20th Avenue. But, if you're looking for a place to buy some Gator gear for your new Gator, check out the UF Bookstore in the Reitz Union. It's open Monday – Friday 8 a.m. – 6 p.m., Saturday – 10 a.m. – 5 p.m., Sunday – 12 p.m. – 5 p.m.


For more unique shopping ideas, check out our Moving In/Moving On blog that shares great ideas of local spots to shop. 



Whether you're planning to attend every optional family event for Preview or you sneak out to get the lay of the land, Gainesville is a place that you should explore a little further when you get the chance. We highly recommend wandering the campus, first with a tour guide and then on your own, to explore the campus more fully. Visit the Norman Tunnel that goes under 13th street so kids can get to class without having to wait for the lights to turn red or stop by and see the 34th Street Wall where people illegally graffiti but no one stops them. Walk through the Ben Hill Griffin Stadium or escape the heat by ducking into the O'Dome across the street. Get to know where your child is going to be spending the next four years of their life so that you can share the experience together.

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