Gainesville may just seem like any other bustling college town. Whether with a significant other, a tinder meet-up, or a steamy “friends with benefits” that’s testing the waters to be something more, this city has countless hidden gems that are prefect for that night. Luckily these fun and creative date ideas won’t break the bank and are great if you want to treat your partner, but you won’t feel bad if they treat you too. Here are the best cheap and fun date ideas near University of Florida.
1. Test your taste at Union Street Farmers Market
Have this weekend filled with plans at Midtown? Head over to Bo Diddley Plaza on Wednesday evenings to stroll around the lively farmers market! Pick up a muffin for $3, taste homemade cultural foods, or just listen to the live musicians play in the plaza stage, the farmers market is the perfect place to do it.
2. The Gelato Co.
After your stroll in downtown, be sure to take a stop at the Gelato Co. Honestly better than ice cream- taste different flavors of the light and cloud like homemade gelato in this small little shop. They also serve delicious crepes, sandwiches, soups, and salads if you want to make it a one stop trip for brunch and a refreshing dessert.
3. Get wet at Ginnie Springs.
Go tubing down Ginnie Springs which is perfect for the sweltering day in typical Gainesville. Enjoy the refreshing year-round 72-degree spring that is guaranteed to start those playful summer water splashing wars.
4. Dizzy nights and pretty lights at the Alachua County Fair.
Sadly seasonal, but truly one of the best places to fill your fair date fantasy. Housing all of the classic fair rides and games, you’ll undoubtedly have a blast at this classic fair. The view from the top of the ferris wheel with your date will ignite that feeling of love and awe. This is one of my favorite date ideas near University of Florida.
5. Watersport mania at Lake Wauburg.
Only 15 minutes from campus and free with a UF ID, go paddle boarding or take a sailboat out on the big and beautiful Lake Wauburg. You could even pack a lunch with some pub subs and drinks and have a picnic on the sand looking out onto the shimmering water.
6. Stroll down the Murals on South Main Street.
Take a stroll down South Main Street and admire the aesthetic and creative walls created by local artists. Capture those fun moments with your partner and get that artsy Instagram worthy photo on that timeline.
7. Indulge in music at High Dive Bar.
If you and your significant other really vibe when you talk or listen to music, venture out to the High Dive. Small, yet popular, this place is always bumping with music and concerts from not only local bands, but the occasional bigger artists and bands too.
8. Be a #1 Gators fan at a UF football game.
What are you doing in Gainesville if you aren’t in the stands singing “We Are The Boys” or Tom Petty classics. Tailgate around campus and cheer on the Gators to really embrace the college football lifestyle- win or lose.
9. Spontaneously explore events at Bo Diddly Plaza.
From free Zumba classes, to art festivals, to concerts, Bo Diddly plaza has it all. If you and your date are feeling spur-of-the-moment, just go into downtown and something is bound to be happening at the time you arrive. A staple date location because the events and things to do are always changing!
10. Have a tasteful night at the Hippodrome Theatre.
Whether you think you’re a play person or not, the Hippodrome theater will not disappoint. It only puts on the best selection of plays and films so don’t be afraid to pick something neither of you are familiar with- it’ll make it that much more interesting and conversable. Who doesn’t love getting dressed up and seeing their date looking finer than ever on a night in downtown?
11. Witness breathtaking views at Paynes Prairie.
Sunrise, Sunset, or just a plain afternoon, take a drive over to Paynes Prairie and enjoy the beautiful scenery from the extending dock. The perfect place to hang out and just talk if you want a beautiful view and to get to know your S.O. better.
12. Coo over CYM Coffee Co.
True coffee fans: this is a must. Despite the many promising cafes around, CYM is an honest hidden gem. With a cool atmosphere and aesthetic, this coffee house is just the best. The best coffee and drinks without a doubt.
13. Pick the tastiest summer strawberries.
For a more creative and interactive date, head out to Roger’s Farm for some serious strawberry picking action. Mess around in the strawberry fields and pick some ripe red strawberries that you and your partner can snack on after your fun adventure.
14. Fly around the UF Bat Houses.
As dusk falls, watch dozens and dozens of bats fly and circle around above you at the bat houses on UF campus. This is a really amazing sight and fun experience that will top off your day, or be a great start to your night!
15. Go back in time at Satchel’s Pizza.
Last but not least, urn a simple dinner idea into a fun and memorable one when you’re dining in a vintage hippie Volkswagen. You really can’t go wrong here. I mean come on, who doesn’t love pizza?