Our promised guide to Gainesville for the Inquiring 'Bama Fan is here thanks to consultant Boridicus, who actually wanted to be called "Boridicus Reptilicus the Frapplesaur," a moniker that we just get tired of typing. We were rusty on the updated, sprawltastic Gainesville, which most people are since businesses open and die like flies there and the city's forever widening roads, declaring odd ordinances, and generally pretending like it doesn't need the University to exist. ("The battery plant will keep us alive!")
Boridicus leaves out one important link, however: The Gainesville Police Department's Event Information Page. All an inquisitive Crimson Tide fan need know is listed there, but we highlight a few points:
1. All decal restriction are lifted, but if something says NO PARKING on gameday, it means it. Gainesville does not tow so much as practice legitimate auto theft, often towing your car while you sit pondering a roadmap or the movement of the clouds across the sky. Remember, though, that in Florida tow companies MUST remove your car if you catch them doing the deed. Ironically, all tow truck companies are really run by jort-wearing guys with mullets.
This beats the controversial practices of the 1990s, where illegally parked cars were destroyed by Hellfire missiles fired from UPD Predator drones.
2. Open container laws are NOT enforced on campus so long as you are not actually vomiting on a police officer. However, note the wording on the UPD page: you will, upon stepping so much as on the sidewalk of a Gainesville street, get an open container violation on the spot. Don't take your drink out of the bar, and stick to the tailgate. You don't want to make a contribution to the town wacky ordinance fund.
Other than that, you'll be fine. Gainesville's beautiful, loaded with amenities, and very pro-alcohol. We'll have directions to our tailgate up tomorrow for those who would care to come and see our be-jorted legs in person.
The statue of Albert Murphree on the Florida campus, who will have a football in his hand on Saturday.
I suppose we should begin our tour of Gainesville near the interstate. This is what most people see when they come into town, so it’s as good a starting place as any. I have to preface this tour guide with a warning about our little town’s infrastructure. As one of my friends put it, you’re never more than twenty minute from anything in Gainesville.
Of course, you’re never less than twenty minutes from anything either. The traffic, especially on game day around the grocery stores is remarkable. You will not move for a very long time, probably because of a maddeningly long red light. This is because the traffic lights are not in sync and poorly timed. Here’s a tip for those who may find themselves lost on the way to the game: you know you’re in Gainesville when you’re at a red light and there is no traffic, foreseeable or otherwise, going the other way. And don’t bike if you like the shape of your skull.
Our first stop will be Kanapaha gardens, a little botanical place that may or may not be a football fan’s thing. I hear its nice, but I’ve lived in Gainesville for like ten years and I’ve never been inside. To get there, take the Archer exit and go west for a mile, maybe two. It’ll be on your right. Incidentally, another place that I’ve heard is nice is on this same road – a Korean barbeque restaurant.
Next stop is the butterfly rainforest, or Lepidoptera exhibit, if you will. If I had written only Lepidoptera, you may have imagined a panther exhibit. This unfortunately is not the case. Rather, the Lepidoptera is part of the natural history museum, which has some pretty cool exhibits. At some point in the past there was a whole room devoted to ancient pachyderms (QEDMF). But don’t show up drunk; high is much better, or so I have heard. Another winner is the nearby Harn museum, which I only write because I like it and there’s no reason why modest fine art and a weekend of football cant go well together, except that maybe fine art is a little too faggy.
But enough culture – most of you have already seen enough of that bullshit, what with Vulcan atop the phallus and all that.
How about something more traditionally Southern, like tubin’? If you’ve got a whole weekend to kill, I heartily recommend either Ginney or Itchnatuknee Springs. The Itchnatuknee is much prettier and more prIstine, but no booze allowed. You can pick up tubes anywhere around these places, and that is actually a pretty good way to find them – just follow the tubes. Don’t go on Saturday – its too crowded. Another interesting natural sight is the Devil’s Millhopper, located down 53rd Ave., about 3 miles west of 441. For some it’s a wonder of geology, for others its just a hole.
The Ichetucknee: difficult to spell, easy to enjoy.
If you’re feeling patriotic, you can always save our nation by visiting the Oaks Mall, replete with a functioning Ruby Tuesday’s and Suki Hana (has teriyaki chicken ever been so velvety?), along with an arcade and several locally owned shops – including Cords, manufacturers of fine corduroy furnishings (Orson may well crash on one Saturday night). And don’t forget Dillards, that bastion of fashion for the sophisticates of Archer, Newberry, Williston and all the surrounding metropolises. (An interesting feature of Gainesville – the road your driving on is likely named after the place it goes to, hence all of the above-mentioned towns are also roads.)
If you are running low on essential supplies, you can restock anything at Butler Plaza, including scuba supplies, Halloween costumes, fake flowers and even used NES games. This strip mall monstrosity is horrifying at first blush – over a mile long and bristling with fast food and chain restaurants. Sprawl at its masturbatory pinnacle – stores splattered everywhere and way too much parking, only contained by the interstate on one side and the university on the other.
One positive thing about Gainesville is that you’re never more than a mile (or twenty minutes) from a Publix. I recommend the new one just off the Williston exit from I-75.
Nice places to watch football include Gator’s Dockside, just west of 34th Street on University Ave. (be careful, the name changes to Newberry Ave. – it’s the same damn road) and
Hooters on 34th near Archer Road. Both have lots of TV’s and people, though Gator’s is better if you ask me. Another good place is Ichiban, a sushi restaurant with plasma screens everywhere. The sushi is also pretty good. Its off of 43rd St, just past 23rd Ave on your left.
If you want good food, go to Leonardo’s by the slice on the corner of 13th St (441) and University Ave. – only buy the thin crust, all the flavors are good. Other good restaurants include Mellow Mushroom (on Univ.), Caribbean Spice (on Univ., if its open), Big Lou’s Pizza downtown and La Fiesta (Mexican) behind the Red Lobster (by the Newberry exit from I-75). Nicer places are Emeliano’s downtown, the Pontiac Tavern (downtown), The Top (also a very fine drinking establishment) (Seconded!--ed.), Dragonfly (downtown) and Leonardo’s 706 on Univ. There are more, ask the locals over the age of 25. We also have an Applebee’s, but I’m not telling where; you may as well buy a cheap microwave and a couple of Hungry Man’s.
Gainesville has other activities, but its pretty typical stuff. If you’re there at night you ought to go downtown. There are lots of bars and pool halls and dance clubs. The bowling alley is way the fuck in the middle of nowhere and the staff are assholes, but of you gotta roll, you gotta roll. It’s called Alley Cats and its off 34th St down a tricky bastard of a road, three lights south of Archer, but if you see the post office you’ve gone too far (good luck). You can also do your best tom-cat impression at Alley Cats’ karaoke stage.
If golfing is your thing check out Meadowbrook. It’s just off the interstate on Exit 390 – go west and turn left at the bottom of the hill – you can’t miss it. It’s a decent course and it’s pretty cheap.
But as you can tell, Gainesville is nice but its still just a college town. Here’s the deal. You will have a great weekend if you 1) get drunk before the game at the Salty Dog (you MUST drink at least one drink there – it’s mandatory) or any other establishment across from the stadium 2) get drunk that night and party downtown. The rest is just filler and you know it. But drive safe and designate a driver or find a cab. And be forewarned – the bars close at two (last call at 1:30, so the roads are pretty dangerous around 1:45-2:30). Oh, I almost forgot. You Alabamians, or whoever, can reel in revelry of revulsion at Gainesville’s monument to our fallen Confederate heroes, featuring a reb slouching proudly against a musket on the corner of Main St and University.
It's not pretty, but it's essential: the Salty Dog. Yarr.