What You Miss When You Leave Gainesville for the Summer
As a Gainesvillian, when you think of summer, you probably wince a bit.
Those three (okay, more like six) months can be murderous. From sunburn to sweat to frizzy hair, summer in Florida is tough. But take it from someone who has spent summers elsewhere–there are things you’ll genuinely miss about Gainesville, even in July.
1. We can handle the heat.
I know, I know. The number one reason Florida may not seem like the best place for summer is because the outside air feels like a warm bathtub. But here’s the secret–it’s hot everywhere. I spent last summer in Atlanta, and it actually got hotter than Gainesville. Big cities deal with a phenomenon known as the “urban heat island effect,” which is a fancy way of saying that temperatures in cities soar higher than in nearby suburban or rural areas. Last week, I was in Colorado. It got up to the 90s during the day, then went back down to the 40s at night. You have to change clothes throughout the day to keep up with it and constantly lug around a jacket. In Gainesville, we don’t need to put on winter clothes to take an evening walk. You can showoff those tan shoulders 24/7.
There’s a final benefit to living in Floridian heat. It’s hot–everyone knows it’s hot–so necessary precautions are taken. We’re prepared. In many places, because the high is usually below 80°, they don’t even have air conditioning. This is fine, until that one month in the middle of the year when it hits the 90s, everyone acts shocked, as though this doesn’t happen every year. Then there is no escape from the heat anywhere.
Plus, when it’s summer in Florida, no one will blame you for wanting to stay indoors, because there are many other months of the year to go outside in nicer weather. On those weeks when it hits 100°, no one expects you to go outside. Unless, of course, you’re doing something with water, which brings me to my next point…
2. We have the best places to swim.
It may be the sunshine state, but we have plenty of water and ways to cool down to go along with the rays. Aside from the YMCA, Gainesville has several public pools, all under $5 for admission. Both the Northeast and Westside pools have diving boards and water slides, although at the time this article was written, the Westside slide was under maintenance.
If you love nature, you’ll be happy to know that Gainesville is right in the middle of a variety of beautiful rivers and springs. For a fun, cool trip just an hour away, you can go tubing at the Ichetucknee, or kayaking at Silver Springs. Just a little further is Crystal River, where you can also kayak or canoe, and maybe even see some manatees.
There’s also Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach about two hours away. I can’t recommend going to Disney or any non-water parks in the summer, though. I did two years ago. Imagine the heat of a Florida parking lot, then add being surrounded by thousands of people. Now, add the pressure of trying to have one hundred dollars’ worth of fun. It’s one Floridian thing that’s best saved for winter.
3. We’re close to beachy paradise.
The Florida beaches get their own separate mention. One of the tragedies of living in Gainesville is that you’re in Florida, but you still have to drive a ways to get to the beach. Nevertheless, two hours, or sometimes less, is a much better drive than what people in other states have to go through. The rocky, cold beaches of the northern US aren’t nearly as relaxing as the gentle, beautiful blue-green waves off our own coast. Nearby you can enjoy the soft sands of Crescent Beach or shell-searching at Vilano. Less than half an hour from both of those is St. Augustine, where you can explore Florida’s history and get some top notch fudge. North of St. Augustine is the Guana Tolomato Matanzas National Estuarine Research Reserve and Mickler’s Landing Beach, the best places to find shark’s teeth. You’ll miss the easy drive to see the sea if you head north for the summer.
4. Our sunsets are unbeatable.
I am blown away by a gorgeous sunset at the end of the day in Gainesville every single time. It may seem like this should be the same anywhere, but I swear that Florida has the best ones. The sky is bigger here, framed by the greenest trees, and filled with the puffiest clouds. These create the amazing oranges and pinks that turn the sky into brilliant cotton candy most evenings. After a day spending summer the Gainesvillian way, soaking up the sun and cooling off in the water, watching the sunset is the perfect ending.