The following is one in a series of blogs prepared by the Convention & Visitors Bureaus of the 14 cities that are home to the universities of the Southeastern Conference. These blogs are presented to enhance fans' enjoyment of the rich history and culture of SEC cities across the 11-state footprint of the Conference.
Hundreds of thousands of fans visit Gainesville, Florida, every year to experience a game at one of the loudest and most imposing football stadiums in the Southeast, Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. Also known as "The Swamp," it is the largest stadium in Florida and is the epicenter of many memorable SEC moments. But it's the fans and long-standing traditions, like the annual homecoming parade and Gator Growl, the largest student-run pep rally in the country, plus the iconic establishments that make the pilgrimage to Gainesville and Alachua County the stuff of Gator greatness!
INDULGE IN ONE OF A KIND LOCAL EATS AND LIVE MUSIC
Arriving on Friday before the big game is the best way to start your football weekend in Gainesville. Enjoy dinner and drinks in Downtown Gainesville's open-air street dining and entertainment area, the GNV Commons, then head to Bo Diddley Plaza for the Free Fridays Concert Series and listen to some of the area's top entertainment.
GET IN THE SPIRIT WITH GAME DAY TRADITIONS
Visitors can find Head Ball Coach Steve Spurrier's 1966 Heisman Trophy and rare football memorabilia in the heart of Spurrier's Gridiron Grille, which features a sports museum and a collection of coach Spurrier's visors and washrooms wallpapered with handwritten plays straight out of his championship playbooks. On game day, take in some of the traditions before making your way to the "The Swamp." Get your photo with University of Florida's most famous couple, Albert and Alberta. Their bronze statues are located directly across from the stadium and have become a popular photoshoot stop for fans of all teams. Find pre-game festivities at Gator Walk Village, located on the stadium's north lawn and featuring food trucks, games and live music, plus one of the most popular pregame traditions, the Gator Walk. Fans form a line in front of the stadium prior to kickoff and the University of Florida marching band, The Pride of the Sunshine, and cheerleaders hype the crowd as the team marches in.
CHECK OUT SOME (Real) GATORS AND MORE
If the Gators don't take to the field until Saturday evening, or you stay an extra day on Sunday, experience a hike through wetlands on a raised boardwalk to see alligators, roaming bison and wild horses on the La Chua Trail, or explore Sweetwater Wetlands Park, one of Florida's top birding sites. Enjoy Alachua County's natural attractions, scenic parks and trails, take a kayak down the Santa Fe River, float in freshwater springs, and explore shops and eateries in charming surrounding towns. Learn more at VisitGainesville.com and FloridaGators.com.