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10 Things to Do When Your Parents Come to Visit UF

By Tori

For many students at the University of Florida, Family Weekend is one of the highlights of the fall semester. When your parents come to visit, you get the opportunity to show them around your new home in Gainesville.

Any time that your family is in your college town, it can feel hectic trying to fit as many fun events as possible into one weekend. Between taking your parents to a Gator football game, showing them around campus, or checking out your favorite restaurants, there are countless ways to entertain your guests.

Read Next: Top 8 Local Brunch Spots Near UF

To help you plan out your next parents weekend, we’ve created this list of ten fun things to do with your parents when they come visit you at the University of Florida.


10 Best Things to do with Your Parents in Gainesville

1. Check out a Gator game

six UF students sit in the bleachers in front of the "this is... the swamp" sign in UF's football stadium in Gainesville, Florida

As a big SEC school, Gator fans get excited for just about any sporting event. You can go for the classic parents weekend experience and take your family tailgating before a UF football game, or you could hang out at a sports bar or restaurant for a more relaxing vibe without missing the action. Plus, other games like soccer and basketball can be just as fun at other times of the year!

If you do decide to catch a famous Gator football game, be sure to grab an orange and blue bagel at Luke’s before heading to Ben Hill Griffin Stadium for the full UF experience.

Read Next: Where to Experience Game Days at UF

2. Get drinks and play games at Barcade

seven retro gaming machines like mortal kombat line the wall of arcade bar, or barcade, in gainesville florida

Photo courtesy of Restaurant Guru.

Arcade Bar, more commonly known by UF students as Barcade, is a fun spot in downtown Gainesville. The old-fashioned arcade games like Pac-Man and skee-ball are a great activity to share with nostalgic parents, and the bar is walking distance from quite a few other downtown hotspots.

3. Have a shopping day at Butler Plaza

exterior view facing the cheesecake factory in butler plaza in gainesville florida

Photo courtesy of Gainesville Lifestyle.

With over 150 stores, 35 restaurants, and a movie theater, it’s easy to spend a whole day at Butler Plaza. Whether you’re looking to get a new outfit or just grab some ice cream together, Butler is an all-around family-friendly location.

4. Paint pottery at Corks & Colors Studio

Interior view of Corks & Colors pottery painting studio in gainesville florida near UF

Photo courtesy of Corks & Colors.

If you’re looking for a relaxing activity to do with your family, you’re sure to love Corks & Colors. You can paint your choice of pottery as a keepsake from parents weekend, plus you can grab a drink while you paint!

5. Take a stroll through the Butterfly Rainforest

a UF student smiles as a butterfly lands on her finger in the Butterfly Garden exhibit at the Florida Museum of Natural History in Gainesville

At the Florida Museum of Natural History, the Butterfly Rainforest is easily one of the most popular exhibits. As you walk through the calming rainforest escape filled with bright flowers and a waterfall, you’ll be greeted by all kinds of beautiful butterflies. Not only is this a great spot to snap a photo with your parents in town, but the museum is free to enter for UF students with your Gator 1 card!

Read Next: 10 Best Photo-Ops Near the University of Florida

6. Enjoy a meal at The Swamp

exterior of the swamp restaurant in gainesville FL

Photo courtesy of The Swamp.

One of the most popular restaurants in town, The Swamp is a great spot to give visitors a taste of Gainesville. Beaming with school pride, The Swamp serves as the perfect location for everything from grabbing lunch or dinner to watching a University of Florida football game.

7. Walk La Chua Trail

an observation deck and boardwalk on la chua trail look out towards the marsh where alligators lie in gainesville florida

Photo courtesy of Florida Hikes.

For the outdoorsy family, La Chua Trail is one of the best places near Gainesville to go for a hike. Here, you’ll find amazing wildlife watching opportunities, with alligators, bison, and wild horses roaming freely.

8. Have a night out in Midtown or Downtown

Interior view of The Social at Midtown Gainesville

Photo courtesy of CPPI.

Taking your parents out to the bars in Midtown or Downtown Gainesville is a fun way to show your parents more of the UF student life. Whether you’re looking for a cold beer or a specialty cocktail, exploring the nightlife in your college town with your family is something many students look forward to all year.

9. Go on a walk around campus

A group of six UF students go on a walk around campus near century tower in Gainesville Florida

We all know that at UF, school spirit is HUGE! A great way to show your love for your school is walking around campus and showing your parents where you spend your days. You can check out your favorite lunch spots, peek into the library you use the most, and end in the bookstore to get some school merch. Don’t forget to bring lots of water and wear comfortable shoes!

Read Next: Best Study Spots at UF

10. Catch the sunset at Paynes Prairie

watching the colorful sunset over paynes prairie is a fun and relaxing activity that UF students like to do with parents visiting gainesville florida

Photo courtesy of Friends of Paynes Prairie.

If you’re looking to enjoy a relaxing evening and snap some photos, Paynes Prairie is home to beautiful Florida sunsets. If you don’t get the opportunity to spend time on La Chua Trail, stopping by Paynes Prairie to watch the sunset is perfect to give your out-of-town visitors a taste of Gainesville’s natural beauty.


We hope this article helped spark some ideas on where to take your parents when they visit UF! Next time you have visitors in Gainesville, we hope we’ve inspired you to check out some of our favorite spots.


Tori is a Community Assistant at Sweetwater. She is a sophomore at UF majoring in Public Relations. Her favorite drink from Daydreamer is the Sweetwater Matcha.

September 26, 2022

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