Traveling the SEC: Brave “The Swamp,” Gators football in Gainesville

Florida vacations are usually all about fun in the sun. For Florida football fans, trips to the Sunshine State are all about seeing the Gators play at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium (better known as “The Swamp) in Gainesville. But there’s a lot more to “G-Ville” than just doing the Gator Chomp in the stands.


Getting there


While Gainesville is a great place to watch a college football game, it’s a bit off the beaten path. While you canfly into town, there are no direct flights. We suggest you best travel options are to fly into either Tampa (130 miles) or Orlando (111 miles) and enjoy the drive to UF.

Where to stay
Skyscanner has several great hotels in Gainesville you can stay at for a weekend. Just remember that the hotels close to the stadium (like Holiday Inn – University Center & Gainesville Lodge) tend to fill up in advance game weekends. Luckily, there’s a huge concentration of places to stay just off of I-75 to the west of campus and south of the area on US 441 that you can book as short as a month in advance.

Things to do


Gainesville really has something for everyone. Want to shop? Head downtown for shops that cover everything from goodies for the kids to vintage clothing and savory destinations like Mark’s Prime. History buffs will enjoy the Dudley Farm Historic State Park to how farming has taken shape over time. Nature lovers and anyone just looking to have a fun time should drive 30 minutes north of Gainesville to Ginnie Springs in the small town of High Springs. Ginnie Springs is a privately owned park on the Santa Fe River, and is perfect for folks looking to lounge around in an inner tube with a cold beer in hand. But just make sure you’re ready to party hard there as it’s a popular spot with students in the area.

Eat, drink & play


This is a college town, so you know you’re going to find some good food, drinks and fun. Beer aficionados will find paradise in a pint at German restaurant Stubbies & Steins, where they serve everything from Abita Abbey Ale to Zywiec Porter. Those looking to do a little drinking and dancing will want to hit up Simon’s Nightclub. And for those that partied a little too hard the night before can get killer ribs and a proper breakfast to cure any hangover at David’s BBQ.

Gameday pointers
If you’re planning on parking at the stadium, get there early – way early. Traffic gets very heavy in town around 10 in the morning. Parking gets pricy right next to “The Swamp,” so think about parking at a house in neighborhoods north of University Avenue. They usually charge anywhere from $10 to $30 to park, but usually come with an added bonus of partying with the folks that live where you park. And if you decide to have an adult beverage or five, just stay in the parking/tailgating area. Stories are prevalent about the local police ticketing folks that step into the street with an open container. 

Do you have something you love to do at Florida football games that we missed? Sound off in the comments section.