5 Things to Love About Fall (That Aren’t Pumpkin Spice Lattes)

I know not everyone agrees, but I honestly think the best thing in the entire world is summer. So when fall rolls around, I feel the panic set in and the realization hits me that there will be no more of that lovely summer fun for a good while. Thankfully, the Gainesville climate is forgiving and mild, but my mind still says, “Give me summer!”. In spite of this, here are some simple reminders that it is perfectly ok, maybe even exciting, that the season is changing to Autumn again.

Fall and Halloween Decorations – Turn your apartment into an autumnal wonderland. The colors alone are exciting: red, orange, yellow, warm and inviting hues to decorate with and celebrate the harvest season. Gourds come in so many lovely shapes and colors and are generally inexpensive, so go to town decorating with them. If you’re a fan of Halloween, embrace the eccentric and spooky things you can get away with once a year! It’s the only time it’s really acceptable put up fake cobwebs (and ignore the real ones)! If you’re not so much into the typical fall color scheme, try something gilded and minimalist along these lines – Check out these ideas. 

  1. The Food – It might get cool enough for your to consider baking in your oven again! One bummer about the hot months is firing up the oven can make being in your apartment unbearable. Once again the opportunity comes to bake ALL the things – cookies, cinnamon buns, sweet potato casserole…mmmm. Not to mention all those heavily spiced fall recipes abundantly available on the internet.
  2. Football – Attending football games, tailgating, throwing parties at home…all have the distinctive fall feel. Whether you’re into college football or the NFL, football is a staple of the season.
  3. Less Humidity – This may sound trivial, but this is a big deal! Less humidity means better hair days, less sticking to your clothes, and less worry about mildew. Being outside becomes an all around more pleasant experience without all that nasty humidity. Maybe the mosquitos will lighten up, too…
  4. Oktoberfest – Okay, so I could have picked any number of things for the fifth point (No Shave November, Fall Leaves, Comfortable Clothing) but who doesn’t like a good party? I will never turn down a reason to celebrate. Enjoy Autumn, y’all!

Keep Mosquitoes at Bay

It’s commonly known that the mosquitoes in Florida can get pretty aggressive. If you’re one of the unlucky ones that they seem to particularly be fond of (like myself), you’re going to need some tricks up your sleeve to keep those irritating insects away. Bug spray products which use DEET work, but they have many harmful side effects to the environment and the people who use them. Try a DEET-free approach with one of these tactics.

Citronella oil is truly one of the most effective ways to repel mosquitoes. The age-old citronella candle is actually as useful as the hardware store wants you to believe. However, citronella is not the only oil which achieves the desired effect. Other natural essential oils like lavender, peppermint, spearmint, and lemongrass also help defend against mosquito bites. These oils are available at your local natural foods and health supply stores and can be applied to your skin or used in a diffuser.

Growing up with Avon products, I’ve come to believe the semi-mystical properties of Skin So Soft bath products as mosquito repellents. Avon, however does not confirm or deny the effectiveness of the bath product line. Regardless of whether or not it’s intentionally meant to be used this way, in the south, generations of women have sworn by it to ward off the pesky bloodsuckers.

A more long-term way of keeping the mosquitoes away is to keep plants around your outdoor area which are naturally offensive to the insects. Rosemary is a great plant to start with – it is easy to grow and it can be used to enhance your cooking as well! Mosquitoes also dislike geraniums, catnip, peppermint, lavender, marigolds, and basil.

For more reading on warding off mosquitoes the natural way, check out this link here.

Union Street Farmers Market


Union Street Farmers Market

Let it never be said that folks in Gainesville don’t appreciate good food.  They also appreciate knowing where their food comes from, which is one reason I think there is such an abundance of fantastic farmers markets nearby.  Did you know that in Alachua County there is a farmers market 6 days of the week?  One of my favorite markets is the Union Street Farmers Market that is in downtown Gainesville every Wednesday from 4-7 p.m.  It is quite convenient because it is right across the street from my office, but I also love that it takes place in the afternoon, so you don’t have to wake up early to get all the good deals and tasty treats.

Downtown Farmers Market Booth

There are booths from farms all over Alachua County and nearby towns in Florida.  Everything is so fresh and delicious that most of the time the produce you buy was harvested that very day.  You can’t get more ‘farm fresh’ than that and with prices that are better than the grocery store, it really makes the effort of going to the farmers market worth it.  Most weeks you’ll find in season vegetables and other goodies like local honey.

Local Florida Honey

Then there are the extra perks like finding homemade bread and sweets, ginger beer or even jewelry and candles at the market.  Most weeks there are performances going on at the Bo Diddley Community Plaza stage while the market is open, too.

Here are a few tips to make your visit to the Union Street Farmers Market extra fun.  Bring cash, some vendors will accept debit or credit cards but most everyone takes good, old fashioned cash only.  If you have reusable bags, you might want to bring those as well.  Most vendors have bags, but it makes carrying your treasures home easier if you have your own bag.  Take your time walking through the market so you don’t miss anything. You’ll also want to try samples of goods that most vendors have out on their tables to try.  A list of current market vendors is posted o

nline, so you can get a sneak peek at what will be offered when you visit.  We post our weekly favorites on our Farmers Market board on Pinterest, which is a great way to see what’s at the market, too.

After you’re done shopping at the market you can make a night of it in Downtown Gainesville. There are a lot of great restaurants and pubs within walking distance for dinner or dessert.

Union Street Farmers Market

— Anna Mikell, VisitGainesville

Stay Cool In Gainesville

Summertime in North Central Florida can be hot, hot, hot! We’ve got a few ideas to help you keep cool while you’re exploring Gainesville.

Start your day off with a visit to the Florida Museum of Natural History at the University of Florida’s Cultural Plaza. Admission is free and it’s a great way to learn about the natural history of the entire state of Florida. Not to mention, the Hall of Florida Fossils is pretty cool.

It’s an entire room dedicated to fossils of creatures that live or lived in Florida at one time. One of the most unique features of the collection is the wall of shark jaws. There are even jaws three feet tall with teeth as big as your hand. Throughout the year the museum usually has traveling exhibits as well, like Cruisin’ the Fossil Freeway which combines archaeology with art.

Once you’re ready liven things up a bit, you’re ready to experience the museum’s Lepidoptera (butterfly and moth) collection, which is one of the largest ones in the country. There are researchers at work around the clock pinning specimens. Many of these can be seen on the gigantic Wall of Wings. If you prefer a more up close look, stop by the Butterfly Rainforest. For a small admission fee you can enter the giant screened enclosure that houses different species of butterflies, moths, birds and even a few fish. You will be amazed at how many butterflies flutter around, landing on flowers and fruit to feed. It really is a unique experience. (Insiders Tip: If you wear white, or light colored clothing the butterflies are more likely to land on you.)

Next, follow the sidewalk next door to the Harn Museum of Art. The Harn has one of the largest collections of art on a college campus anywhere in the U.S. Since their collection is so large you can be sure that you will see something different every time you visit. They have a little something for everyone with their modern, contemporary, photography, African, and Asian art collections. This spring the Harn recently expanded, opening a brand new Asian Art wing featuring art from all over Asia and two Asian gardens.

Once you’ve fed your cultural appetite, you’ll want to feed your sweet tooth. Just a few blocks away from the Cultural Plaza is Sweet Dreams Ice Cream. All of their flavors are homemade in the shop and they offer traditional flavors like chocolate and strawberry and several more uncommon flavors like Spicy Mayan Chocolate, Florida Mango and Peach Ginger. It’s great for kids and those who are still a kid at heart.

For those looking for more ‘grown up’ tastes, stop by the Swamp Head Brewery tasting room off Archer Road and try a few local craft brews. Swamp Head has really made a name for themselves in the Craft Beer world, especially in Florida. With their cleverly named brews like Stumpknocker Pale Ale and Cotton Mouth Belgian Wheat Beer, they capture the spirit of the Swamp, especially.

Round out your ‘cool’ day in Gainesville with a show at The Hippodrome State Theatre in Downtown. ‘The Hipp’, as it is called by locals is about to celebrate their 40 th season with a fantastic lineup. You’ll be able to catch plays like ‘Avenue Q’, ‘Robin Hood’ and a stage adaptation of the movie ‘Carrie’. The mainstage has a really intimate atmosphere and you really feel like you’re a part of all the action.

Stay tuned for our next blog, where we’ll give a few more ideas for staying cool! In the meantime, be sure to check out VisitGainesville.com for everything Gainesville!

– Anna Mikell