Florida Gators: Top 10 Bars in Gainesville on Gameday

by Dustin Schutte
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No trip to Gainesville would be complete unless you get the opportunity to check out the local bar scene. On a Florida Gators gameday, the downtown area is popping with fans sporting the orange and blue, grabbing beer, wine and cocktails from some of their favorite spots near Ben Hill Griffin Stadium.

We talked with Nick de la Torre and Corey Bender of On3’s Gators Online to get an idea of some of the best places to grab a drink … or two … while in Gainesville to see the Florida Gators. There is no shortage of options.

The Top

  • Location: 30 N. Main St.
  • Distance to Ben Hill Griffin Stadium: 1.6 miles
  • Saturday Hours: 5PM – 2AM
  • Known For: Wide Range of Spirits
  • Website

A Gainesville favorite. Many traveling into town for a Gators gameday will be sure to make a pit stop at this location, whether it’s before a late-night kickoff or after the game. There’s a large selection of spirits and plenty of cocktails on the menu.

“The Top is quintessential Gainesville. It’s just part of the experience.”

Nick de la Torre, Gators Online

You can dine inside or enjoy the warm Florida weather on the patio. This isn’t a location to really watch any games, so it’s definitely a place to hit pre- or post-game — especially if the Gators win.

Madrina’s

  • Location: 9 W. University Ave.
  • Distance to Ben Hill Griffin Stadium: 1.5 miles
  • Saturday Hours: 5PM – 2AM
  • Known For: “Fancy Drinks”
  • Website

Looking for something a little bit different on gameday? No problem. Madrina’s offers a fun spin on a lot of classic cocktails, making it one of the more unique bars in Gainesville. It has a section of the menu entitled, “Fancy Drinks,” offering several fan favorites.

“It’s a smaller bar but it has really interesting plays on old cocktails.”

Nick de la Torre, Gators Online

Whiskey lovers should give the Humidor a try, a cocktail that mixes rye whiskey with Montenegro, Amontillado sherry, smoked tea and honey. If unique, custom cocktails aren’t your thing, Madrina’s also has beer, wine and other traditional favorites.

First Magnitude Brewing Co.

  • Location: 1220 SE Veitch St.
  • Distance to Ben Hill Griffin Stadium: 2.7 miles
  • Saturday Hours: 2PM – 11PM
  • Known For: Head Beer Coach “1966 Lager”
  • Website

Whether you’re going into “The Swamp” or not, a stop at First Magnitude is a must for beer drinkers. It’s a great place to enjoy a few brews before kickoff, celebrate a victory or even gather with your friends and watch the Gators. There’s an enormous garage with Florida on a giant projection screen. This location also offers a large outdoor beer garden and indoor seating.

True Gator fans will want to try the Head Beer Coach 1966 Lager, recently launched by First Magnitude Brewing Co. in collaboration with Steve Spurrier. If you enjoy this beer on site, you can also grab a can inside Ben Hill Griffin Stadium.

Social at Midtown

  • Location: 1728 W. University Ave.
  • Distance to Ben Hill Griffin Stadium: 0.3 miles
  • Saturday Hours: 11AM – 2AM
  • Known For: Swamp Water
  • Website

Ask anyone around and Social at Midtown is the place to be on gameday. The best advice is to arrive early, because it will get backed up. But it offers a great place for drinks, bar food and is within a half-mile walk to Ben Hill Griffin Stadium.

“This is definitely one of the most popular places on gameday. You’ll want to get there early because it will get crowded pretty quickly.”

Nick de la Torre, Gators Online

If you’re making the trek to Social at Midtown, you might as well get in the Gator spirit by ordering Swamp Water — which will send you straight back to college. This mixture includes Gameday Vodka, Triple Sec, lime juice and blue Gatorade. Hey, you’re heading into “The Swamp” anyway.

Big Top Brewing Co.

  • Location: 201 SE 2nd Ave. Suite 101
  • Distance to Ben Hill Griffin Stadium: 1.9 miles
  • Saturday Hours: 11AM – 11PM
  • Known For: Wellyz Premier Florida Lager
  • Website

Another great spot for those who enjoy a cold beer on a hot day — or any day, for that matter. Big Top Brewing Co. is located downtown and offers a great selection of craft beers, as well as a full menu. This could potentially be a one-stop shop for Gator fans on gameday, especially with Saturday specials.

The most popular beer at Big Top is Wellyz Premier Florida Lager, great for any day during the fall. It also has a solid selection of seasonal beers, so you might find something a little bit different each time you visit.

Mom’s OG

  • Location: 1017 W. University Ave.
  • Distance to Ben Hill Griffin Stadium: 0.9 miles
  • Saturday Hours: 7:30AM – 2AM
  • Known For: Sports Bar Atmosphere
  • Website

Previously known as Mother’s Pub and Grill, this Gainesville classic re-opened as Mom’s OG in 2022. It’s a piece of the college town’s history and becomes a popular spot when the Gators are playing at home. It offers breakfast, lunch and dinner and, of course, a wide selection of drinks.

“Everyone goes to Mom’s OG on gameday. That’s the place to be.”

Gainesville resident

Mom’s OG has five projectors and 20 televisions across its establishment. So, whether you’re just stopping in for a beer or sticking around for a while, you’ll be able to catch college football at any point on a Saturday. It’s one of Gainesville’s top sports bars for a reason.

Loosey’s Downtown

  • Location: 120 SW 1st Ave.
  • Distance to Ben Hill Griffin Stadium: 1.5 miles
  • Saturday Hours: 11AM – 12AM
  • Known For: Rotating Tap List
  • Website

If you’re looking for a wide selection of craft beers in one spot, Loosey’s is the place for you. This establishment takes a lot of pride in offering over 25 draught beers from local breweries. Because of the large rotating tap list, you may walk into something new each and every week.

Loosey’s also has Saturday specials, offering $4 drafts from local Gainesville breweries during Happy Hour, which runs 3 p.m. – 7 p.m. You can also grab a burger, sandwich or other bar foods before heading into the game. You might also be able to catch some live music, too.

SideCar

  • Location: 115 SE 1st St.
  • Distance to Ben Hill Griffin Stadium: 1.7 miles
  • Saturday Hours: 11AM – 12AM
  • Known For: Creative Custom Cocktails
  • Website

Another spot with some fun, custom cocktails. Like most spots on this list, SideCar is located downtown and offers fans the opportunity to arrive early for some pre-kickoff drinks or some celebrity cocktails. They’re always experimenting with new beverage options, so it’s hard to make any true recommendations.

SideCar is located right next to V Pizza, so you can enjoy a full meal while stopping at this location. Not a bad way to spend a Saturday afternoon in Gainesville.

White Buffalo

  • Location: 111 S. Main St.
  • Distance to Ben Hill Griffin Stadium: 1.6 miles
  • Saturday Hours: 9PM – 2AM
  • Known For: Nightlife
  • Website

This is probably a stop for the younger Gators in the crowd, as it’s a happening spot for the post-game celebrations. It offers a large space, which means it’s filled with students wearing the orange and blue after a big game. It offers craft cocktails, as well as plenty of great beer.

White Buffalo might be a bit more of a party scene than what some enjoy, but it’s a fun place to stop by for the younger crowd. And there’s nothing wrong with that.

Cry Baby’s

  • Location: 1 W. University Ave.
  • Distance to Ben Hill Griffin Stadium: 1.5 miles
  • Saturday Hours: 4PM – 2AM
  • Known For: Seasonal Cocktails
  • Website

A lot of bars in Gainesville enjoy mixing it up with their cocktail menu (see what we did there?). Cry Baby’s is no different. It offers seasonal cocktails throughout the year — even though the weather in Florida can be defined as summery for nearly 12 months.

“Not only do they have really good burgers, they have great craft cocktails.”

Nick de la Torre, Gators Online

Cry Baby’s is a great place to stop and share a few cocktails with friends, especially after the game. Plus, if you’re hungry it has great burgers and a hot chicken sandwich.

Honorable Mentions

Swamp Head Brewery (3650 SW 42nd Ave.)

Swamp Head offers a great selection of beers and has a great ambiance, whether you’re sitting inside or outdoors. This is more of a Friday spot, though, with the brewery offering “Football Fridays” during the fall. Swamp Head welcomes Gator fans to Gainesville with live music, food trucks and, of course, cold beer.

Photo by Dustin Schutte/Outsider

Miller’s Ale House (2881 Bass Pro Shops Blvd.)

Don’t knock the chains. Miller’s Ale House is a great place to catch a few college football games — or any sport for that matter. TVs are everywhere, meaning there’s not a bad seat in the house. This spot also offers a good selection of beer and cocktail options, as well as typical bar food. It’s further away from campus, so probably a place to visit if you’re not going to “The Swamp.”

The Bull (18 SW 1st Ave.)

This doesn’t necessarily give off “gameday” vibes, but everyone likes something a little different. The Bull provides a selection of craft beer and wines and usually has live music, as well. So, if you’re looking for a mellow stop in Gainesville, this is a great option.

Cypress & Grove Brewery (1001 NW 4th St.)

If you’re into unique takes on craft beer, Cypress & Grove Brewery is a great place to visit. It’s a former icehouse-turned-brewery, giving off really unique vibes. Again, this isn’t exactly the most common gameday spot compared to other places on the list, but it’s still worthy of a mention.

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