By Chloe Stradinger
Most students have a ready-made answer to the question: “So, why’d you come to the University of Florida?”
They’ll say, “I’m a sixth generation Gator,” or “football.” Or, perhaps they’ll give the smart answer: “To challenge myself academically and make connections within the Gator Nation that will last a lifetime.”
Which is why I feel sort of guilty when I give my honest answer: “The weather.”
I was born and raised in the great Midwest. My childhood passed in a blur of beautiful seasons, the longest and least appealing of those being winter. The first snowfall was always a surprising and wonderful thing, especially when school was called off, and we could spend the whole day sledding and drinking hot chocolate.
But every year I grew wearier of winter. Dark, gray days stretched for months, and I longed for the sun. So you can imagine my delight when I received an acceptance letter to the University of Florida. Florida, the Sunshine State—a beautiful peninsula with palm trees, sand and saltwater!
Little did I know that UF is actually in north central Florida, which is a part of the state considered “cold” to many Floridians. And the closest beach to campus isn’t super close.
And yet, this weather is glorious! While I sometimes miss the seasons, I feel lucky every time I wake up to yet another beautiful, breezy, sunny day in the middle of February.
As I’m looking to move up north or out west in a few months after I graduate, I’m fully aware that I need to soak up the most of this Florida weather. And you should, too!
Here are a few of my favorite ways to get outside in Gainesville:
1. Take a walk.
Whatever happened to a good old walk n’ talk? Take your friend or significant other for an afternoon stroll. You can end up at a coffee shop, grab some ice cream or just take it around the block.
2. Go to a brewery.
First Magnitude is a great place to sit and drink outside with friends. Grab a beer and challenge a crew to giant Jenga.
3. Check out Depot Park.
This place is my new favorite hangout. I love walking to the Pop-a-Top, which is a cool general store full of goodies. Grab an iced coffee, then sprawl out in the grass and enjoy the day.
4. Eat outside.
Downtown Gainesville has tons of great outdoor eating spots that feel very Euro when crowded. Enjoy lunch on Gelato Company’s patio or sip on a margarita at Boca Fiesta.
5. Check out a nature-y place.
Try a new trail at Payne’s Prairie or head to San Felasco Hammock Preserve State Park for a hike. If you prefer the water, go to Ichetucknee Springs and drift the day away in a tube.
However you choose to spend your day, make sure you get outside. It’s beautiful!