Hotel at a Glance: Paramount Plaza Hotel & Suites
Completely renovated in 2007, Paramount Plaza is just down the road from the University of Florida, making it a great jumping-off point for college visits (Go Gators!). The hotel also has one of the best views in Gainesville, thanks to its location on the scenic shores of Bivens Arm. The nearby Bivens Arm Nature Park is a prime spot to spend a few hours: it has a boardwalk, a mile-long nature trail, and several picnic sites.
- A room with a view: Blue Heron suites all have views of Bivens Arm, and all rooms have cable TV and free WiFi.
- Waterfront dining: Specialty martinis and upscale pub fare are on the menu at Lakeside Bar & Grill.
- Free shuttle service to the University of Florida campus and the airport.
- Go swimming in the large outdoor pool.
Gainesville, Florida: World-Class Museums, Historical College Buildings, and Legendary Sports Facilities
Located in northern Florida, Gainesville conveniently sits in the middle of several Florida destinations: Orlando, St. Augustine, Tampa, and Jacksonville are all within a two-hour drive. Livability.com recently named it the No. 1 college town, calling it “a sports fan's paradise" because of the community's fervent love for the University of Florida's football team. You can't avoid the Gator logo here—it's brandished on store windows, car bumpers, and sportswear all over town. A visit to the Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, affectionately known as "The Swamp," reaffirms the hype as more than 90,000 rowdy, orange-and-blue-clad spectators fill the stands. But the highlight of any match comes when the band breaks into the Jaws theme song and fans collectively raise their arms for an intimidating Gator Chomp.
Much of the action in Gainesville centers on the campus, which lies about 2 miles from downtown Gainesville and is known for its cluster of historic buildings. Century Tower, a more-than-150-foot-tall Gothic carillon, stands out both for its height and frequent clanging of the "Florida Chimes" bell tune. On the campus’s western edge, the Florida Museum of Natural History tells the state's history with more than 500 fossils and Native American artifacts. While you’re there, take a stroll through the museum's Butterfly Rainforest, where hundreds of butterfly species from around the world live among lush, tropical trees and cascading waterfalls.