Welcome to The Swamp! Of course, the term “swamp” doesn’t have the same negative connotation here in Gainesville that it might have in other parts of Florida. That’s because this is the home of the University of Florida Gators, and “The Swamp” is where this community gathers to watch their favorite football team on Saturday afternoons.
College towns are probably not the first places that come to mind when contemplating where to spend your retirement, but the more you investigate places like Gainesville, the more sense it makes. This entire community is filled with a rich history, and its permanent residents are surrounded by a youthful energy, tons of culture, and excellent dining options.
Let’s take a look around the swamp and check out this community from a retirement perspective!
Like most of Florida, people have been calling Gainesville home since way before it was even called Gainesville. Ancient burial mounds that have been found on the University of Florida campus date back prior to 1000 A.D. European explorers then discovered the area during Hernando de Soto’s time exploring the southeastern part of the country.
Gainesville’s first big boost came when the Florida Railroad Company built a line from Cedar Key to Fernandina Beach. The city saw more periods of rapid growth following the Civil War, World War I, and World War II.
In 2007, Gainesville was named the #1 Place to Live in North America by Cities Ranked and Rated. It was also labeled as one of the “Best Places to Live and Play” by National Geographic Adventure.
Gainesville saw an incredible period of growth from 2000 through 2010. The 2000 census reported a total of 95,447 people living there, but that number grew to 124, 354 for the 2010 census.
There were an estimated 128,460 people who call Gainesville home in 2014.
As a college town, life in Gainesville definitely revolves around the University of Florida. But there are also plenty of unrelated activities and attractions to pursue. For what is billed as a college town, there are tons of opportunities to explore the outdoors in Gainesville.
If you are an outdoors enthusiast or a nature lover, there is a virtually unlimited number of options for you to explore. Places like the Butterfly Rainforest, Florida Museum of Natural History, Paynes Prairie, and the University of Florida Bat House all give you the chance to really get up close and personal with nature.
One of the biggest perks of retiring in a college town is that it will have a thriving arts and culture community.
Gainesville has more than dozen different theaters and auditoriums, so you will always have the opportunity to catch a show somewhere like The Hippodrome State Theatre, The Curtis M. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts, or at Rockeys Dueling Piano Bar.
There is also a great collection of local art and history museums here in Gainesville. You could spend entire days lost in the creative world at the Samuel P. Harn Museum of Art.
Another great thing about life in a college town is that you will never have trouble shopping for gifts to send back to friends and family. There is never a shortage of Florida Gators gear available at a number of different stores in downtown Gainesville.
When it comes to dining, the Gainesville restaurant scene has you covered for pretty much anything your heart desires. There are some really great ethnic restaurants like La Tienda Latina for Mexican and The Spot for Greek cuisine.
One really interesting option is Beque Holic, which serves “Premium Korean Table BBQ.” This is a hands-on experience where you get to choose your own flavor combinations and cook your dinner right at the table!
If you prefer a more traditional dinner, Manuel’s Vintage Room is a perfect option for a romantic Italian dinner…and they have an incredible wine list. This is a smaller place, so you will definitely want to make a reservation.
Circling back to the college town atmosphere, there are also dozens of causal restaurants throughout Gainesville where you can relax and watch the big game.
Whether you are looking for outdoor activities, a rich cultural environment, great food, or a sports-lover’s paradise, you can find them all here in Gainesville. That’s why this exciting college town in the middle of “The Swamp” is such fabulous place to spend your retirement.