Gainesville and Alachua County, FL

“This is Gator Country.” On Saturday afternoons, that phrase and 90,000 screaming University of Florida football fans are what most people think about when they think of Gainesville. But there is more to offer than just football, especially as the weather cools and gameday grub gets replaced with local flavors and winter harvests.

Located a couple hours north of Orlando, winters in Gainesville feature temperatures in the 50s and crystal clear blue skies with plenty of sunshine. The saying “Gator Country” proves true, as alligators keep warm and bask in the sun at Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park. Outdoor activities are quite popular this time of year with cyclists on the paved Gainesville-Hawthorne Trail, families walking the wooden stairs at Devil’s Millhopper Geological State Park, or swimmers hitting the numerous freshwater springs.

Outdoor lovers are sure to work up a thirst and Gainesville’s growing craft beer movement is a perfect pairing to a day of exploring nature. Swamp Head Brewery and First Magnitude Brewing Company are a couple local favorites with tasting rooms where you can sample seasonal flavors with fellow beer lovers.

Downtown Gainesville has a tremendous selection of local establishments within walking distance including The TOP Restaurant, Big Lou’s NY Style Pizzeria, Dragonfly Sushi, Emiliano’s Café, Crane Ramen, and Manuel’s Vintage Room just to name a few.

Winter farmer’s markets provide a great opportunity to gather your own harvest. Cool Florida weather yields a peak selection for kale, broccoli, collard and mustard greens, beets, sweet and juicy citrus fruit, and strawberries making their appearance in January. Local farmers are proud to show off their yields at various markets throughout the week.

This combination of nature and wildlife, craft beer, and diverse local flavors make Gainesville an easy recipe for a delicious Florida getaway.

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