The American Institute for Economic Research ranked Gainesville No. 5 in the top 20 best small cities for college students. The rankings, released in October, took into account factors like student life, culture, economic health and opportunity.
Steve Orlando, the University of Florida spokesman, said the university, the music scene and locally owned restaurants are what gives Gainesville a vibrant and interesting city culture. “Everything really centers around and caters to students,” he said.
Nicholas Smith, the general manager of The Swamp Restaurant, said his business has been here for 20 years. “Gainesville has everything you need while still being a small town,” he said, “and we’re happy to be a part of it.” He said Gainesville doesn’t feel clustered like other small cities. “You have a mix of outdoor things to do like Paynes Prairie and Lake Wauburg, a great university, great arts scene and, of course, great sports,” he said.