Summer In the Swamp: Top 6 Places to Hang at UF

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If your two favorite hobbies are partying until dawn and shamelessly showing off your Gator Pride, then the University of Florida is the hotspot to score some major fun. At least during the school year. But what do you do when the campus becomes a ghost town during the summer and none of your friends from Fall and Spring are around? Have no fear. The Gators of Gainesville have so many cool places to mingle that not even the guy from the Oxyclean commercial can keep saying, “But wait! There’s more!” without passing out from sheer awesomeness. Here are the top six places to have too much fun at the University of Florida.

1. The Reitz Union Food Court

“Seriously, the food court?” might be your initial thought, but this isn’t your local mall’s food court. The Reitz Union Food Court regales its students and visitors with a variety of fast food branches like Wendy’s and Panda Express. Coffee is served daily at the food court’s Starbucks, so anyone about to spend another night in the library can make a quick detour. Not hungry? It’s still a great place to hang out with your friends or get work done with your fellow classmates. If you’re in need of a quick souvenir for Granny back home, the food court is conveniently located next to the Reitz Union gift shop and book store. So grab a mocha latte and buy yourself an overpriced Alberto plushie– every Gator does at some point.

2. Club West – Library West

Dude, the library? Of course! Hate to break it to you but even in summer, you’ll still be busy with three final exams and a team project that makes you realize why Batman prefers to work alone. A haven of little academic corners to study in and a plethora of information for your assignments, Library West is also called “Club West” for its not-always-quiet atmosphere (why “Club West”? Why not the “Fortress of Solitude”?). They even have a Starbucks and a small cafeteria on the first floor so you won’t starve mid-studying. Club West gets it: you’re the college student trying to balance your studies with your social life and non-existent sleeping schedule. Plus, the staff at Library West are a bunch of helpful experts who are willing to lend a helping hand (or shoulder to cry on) as you cram in a final paper due the next morning.

3. Carillon Recital

What the heck is a carillon? Here’s an awesome fact about UF: we have a clock tower that not only announces the time but plays music through an organ. Say whaaat? You heard me, not only is Century Tower one of the most defining monuments on campus, but the music that’s played is actually performed by real people. UF has its own carillon studio where students who play the lovely organ come together to practice their musical pieces and then show their mad Mozart skills off. They’ve played a number of songs at Clock Tower, like the Game of Thrones theme song and a rich variety of classical music. Although the studio doesn’t play in the summer, they do offer carillon recitals where famous artists come to perform. So go check it out! Who knows, you might ditch the guitar for an awesome clock tower/organ!

4. Fourth of July

Who doesn’t want to celebrate ‘Merica with fireworks and their fellow Americans? Take your pet eagle to UF’s Fourth of July celebration and sip on the sweet nectar of freedom and justice as you and all of America celebrate with bright fireworks and fun bands like Bears and Lions, InCrisis Band and the Gainesville Community Band who perform throughout the star-spangled night. No alcohol or pets (bye Mr. Eagle) are allowed in the event, but you will still have a grand ‘ol patriotic time sitting on the grass with friends, oohing and aahing at the pretty fireworks. Cue the chorus of I’m proud to be a Gator-ican!

5. Gator Nights

I love Gator Nights. Every Friday at the Reitz Union hundreds of Gators come together for a night of free movies, snacks and games AKA every broke college student’s dream. You can watch films from Cinderella to Insurgent to Night at the Museum to Mad Max: Fury Road. This event is totally free to UF students, so this is a great opportunity for you and your friends to come together and have a fun night out without going dead broke. Grab yourself a bag of popcorn and enjoy this fun time with other students after a long night of cramming for finals. You deserve it!

6. Human vs. Zombies

Who wants to kill a zombie? I do! UF holds a Human vs. Zombies event throughout the year and yes, that includes summer. Two sides are made, one human and one zombie, and these two immortal/undead enemies fight to the death with Nerf guns. I once saw an epic battle between the two groups going at each other (equal parts, shouting and laughing) at American Plaza. The one fool proof excuse to avoid doing homework: the world needs you to save it from the zombie apocalypse! Go get your Nerf gun and shoot those suckers down.

Rocio Cosme is a sophomore majoring in English at University of Florida. She enjoys reading, writing, singing, crushing over fictional boys in her favorite books, and free hugs.

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