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Planning the Perfect Send-Off Weekend With Your University of Florida Student

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The Sweetwater Branch Inn, located in historic downtown Gainesville, is a quiet escape in the heart of the city. With all of the amenities that you’d expect of a world-class inn, our beautiful property is the perfect spot to relax and unwind during your next getaway—especially if that getaway is a weekend spent dropping your child off for their first semester at the University of Florida! 

No matter how ready your student is to take this next step, the send-off weekend is certain to come with plenty of big emotions. Planning the perfect weekend send-off is a great way to set you and your child’s nerves at ease, and to make your weekend even more special. 

Ready to start planning the perfect weekend getting your new University of Florida student set up for their first semester on campus? Keep reading to learn where to stay, what to do, and where to dine during your visit. 

Where to Stay 

Whether you’re visiting for move-in weekend, orientation, or already planning ahead for Family Weekend, the first thing you’ll want to do is choose your University of Florida lodging. 

The university is located close to the center of Gainesville, which means that there are plenty of hotels, motels, and other lodging options to choose from. But before you book a standard chain hotel, consider the benefits of opting for something a little more unique. 

Sweetwater Branch Inn is a charming bed and breakfast that features a variety of room options. From our cozy guest rooms to our private cottages, there’s an option for every couple and family. Plus, you’ll enjoy access to our many on-site amenities 

If you’re arriving via electric vehicle, take advantage of our two Tesla chargers. Shop for hand-crafted soaps, books by local authors, and more in our gift shop. Cool off after a long day in our Saltwater pool, or relax in the spa. Test your skills on our putt-putt green. We even have complimentary on-site bike rentals for you to explore the Victorian complex. 

But one of the best reasons to book a stay at our Gainesville accommodation is our location. The edge of the University of Florida campus is located just minutes away from Sweetwater Branch Inn. This means you’ll have a short commute or even a pleasant walk on your way to orientation or Move-in Day.  

It’s also a great opportunity to stroll the campus each day of your stay. Get a feel for the campus at different times of day, help your student map out the location of their first semester’s classes, and tour some of the facilities they’ll soon be using, like Reitz Union, the bookstore, or the Student Recreation & Fitness Center. 

Where to Go 

If you find yourself with some downtime during your stay in our Gainesville accommodation, there are plenty of activities to choose from just a short distance away.  

One day trip that’s certain to be a highlight of your visit is a trip to Devil’s Den. This naturally-formed underground spring maintains a temperature of 72 degrees Fahrenheit all year long. The warm, bright blue waters are surrounded by stunning rock formations that contain fossil beds that date back more than 33 million years. If you have your scuba diving certification, you can dive at Devil’s Den. If not, you can snorkel or simply take in the views of this incredible natural wonder. 

If you’re looking for a way to spend an afternoon or evening right here in Gainesville, take a stroll through the Florida Museum of Natural History or the Harn Museum of Art, or catch a concert at Bo Diddley Plaza.  

To learn about upcoming events ahead of your next visit to Sweetwater Branch Inn, sign up for “What’s Good,” the free Gainesville and Alachua County weekend event guide that’s delivered straight to your inbox every week. In it, you’ll learn about local festivals, concerts, and more going on in and around Gainesville. The Gainesville Sun also provides a calendar of upcoming events throughout the city. 

Where to Workout 

If you want to keep up with your fitness goals during your stay, you’ll have a few gyms to choose from.  

An Orangetheory Fitness location is just over a mile from the Inn, adjacent to the University of Florida campus. If you’re not already a member of this gym chain, you can purchase a class pass to use during your stay in our Gainesville accommodation.  Members of Planet Fitness will find a location just three miles from Sweetwater Branch Inn.  

Where to Shop 

Whether you want to pick up a souvenir of your visit or need to get supplies for your student’s new dorm room, you’ll find plenty of shopping just a short drive away. 

For an afternoon of shopping and relaxing, head to Celebration Pointe, one of Gainesville’s most popular outdoor shopping destinations. Here you’ll find popular stores like Bass Pro Shops, Nike, and Palmetto Moon. If you want to catch a movie during your stay, there’s a theater at this mall, as well as a variety of tasty dining options. 

If you’re in need of dorm room decorations or school supplies, Butler Plaza has it all. This shopping plaza features every kind of department store you could ask for. There’s Best Buy for laptops, Target for bedding and decor, Publix and Trader Joe’s for snacks, and so much more. 

Where to Dine 

When you work up an appetite, you could head to one of the University of Florida dining halls that your student will soon be frequenting. Or, treat them to something a little more tasty! 

Whether you’re facing a long day of decorating a dorm room or exploring Gainesville, make sure to start your day with breakfast at Sweetwater Branch Inn. We offer a variety of homemade breakfast items, including fresh frittata, French toast casserole, and more. Before leaving our Gainesville resort for the day, you can also pick up a specially-prepared picnic lunch. Choose from an elaborate spread or a simple lunch that you can take with you to enjoy in one of Gainesville’s many parks and outdoor spaces, or even somewhere on the university campus. 

There are also plenty of delicious restaurants just a short walk or drive from Sweetwater Branch Inn. Satchel’s Pizza serves up tasty, casual fare in an eclectic dining space that’s certain to be a hit for the whole family. The Patio-Pizza & Provisions offers a similarly modern atmosphere. This outdoor dining venue offers a variety of fresh and unique casual fare, including pizza, sliders, cocktails, and more. Just around the corner is Harry’s Seafood Bar & Grille. Known for its New Orleans-inspired cuisine, this is a great spot to get your Florida seafood fix. 

If you’re looking for some fine dining for a special evening together, we recommend Amelia’s Italian Restaurant or Mark’s Prime Steakhouse. For a taste of something a little more unique, the Alpin Bistro is a great spot to sample French cuisine alongside a list of imported beers and wines. 

Planning the Perfect Send-Off Weekend at Sweetwater Branch Inn 

Whether you’re getting your child set up in their dorm room or already planning ahead to visit them in their new home at the University of Florida, booking your stay at Sweetwater Branch Inn is a great way to set yourself up for the perfect weekend. From our range of room options to our unique on-site amenities to our amazing location just a short distance from the campus, you can’t beat our Gainesville accommodation. 

Now is the time to book your room or cottage at Sweetwater Branch Inn for orientation, Move-in Weekend, or Family Weekend. Book your stay today to guarantee your spot!