Gainesville, Florida is 80 miles south of the Georgia/Florida border and right in the dead mid-way point between the east and west coasts; an hour to and hour and a half to beaches on either side. It’s more The South than it is Florida (i.e., Miami, Tampa, Orlando, etc.), with dripping Spanish moss, anoles left and right, families selling boiled “p-nuts” off their porches, ceiling fans, Caribbean food, cuban coffee and crazy barefoot naturalists shopping at the farmer’s market.
We like sun. And sunshowers. And waterfowl and Spanish moss and sinkholes and skateboarders and artists and swimming and coffee and pizza and lizards. In addition, students can find movies, bookstores, theaters, rock shows, cheap food and housing, sunny days, bike paths, egrets, lizards, free yoga at the library, free lunches on the University of Florida campus, midnight soccer, organizations and ad hoc sub communities within communities.
More importantly, Gainesville is an arty, welcoming, DIY place that with loads of creative professionals, lots of ingenuity and creative excitement. It rewards initiative and offers lots of chances for engagement.
The University (UF) has a long-standing academic comics convention/symposium which has flown in such luminaries as Eddie Campbell, Dan Clowes and Kim Deitch. There are also a large number of academic scholars at the University dedicated to study of sequential art and these people, who have done historical research, and investigated the mechanisms of comics in unique ways are a great asset. The town is small but there is a lot of culture, including an art museum, a museum of natural history, an arthouse movie theater, good bookstores, a renegade video store, an alternative avant garde film festival and more.
Some Gainesville institutions we like:
The Hippodrome – Art film theater and live theater space
Devil’s Milhopper – Creepy sink hole in middle of town
Wayward Council– non-profit performance space, record shop and meeting space
Civic Media Center – Amazing, long-standing community space, lending library and more.
University of Florida – Giant University. Apparently the Gators are a big deal in sports
Thomas Center – Outdoor movies, park space and more
Satchel’s Pizza– local pizza joint, junk store, performance space and more.
Video Rodeo – Renegade video store
Flexfest – Florida experimental video/film festival
Cracker Crazy – documentary about Florida
Alachua County Library – Great library with LOTS of COMICS
Leonardo’s Pizza– Staple pizza joint. Great coffee too.
Saigon Legend – Charming Vietnamese restaurant
The Top bar and restaurant– Great place to eat, drink, meet friends, isten to music, visit the photo booth
Maude’s Cafe – We love this dispite the banana smell
Votla Coffee – Fancy great coffee and sunlight
The Bull – Great new coffee shop/bar. In fact, I’m heading there now.
Salty Dog – There are better bars, really, but somehow this one is still charming.
Most of the images below we cribbed off of Flickr or the web. We’ll be posting credits soon.