The state's premier college town is an energetic change of pace from rural, conservative north Florida. While Gainesville is hardly hippie central, you'll find graffiti murals, fair-trade coffee, funky music and similar amenities that feel a little incongruous after miles of countryside. With that in mind, it's worth remembering said countryside gives way to pristine nature, itself a major attraction for the outdoors-loving residents of Gainesville.
Originally a whistle-stop along the Florida Railroad Company's line, today this town is home to the nation's second-largest university, the sprawling University of Florida (UF). The campus itself is 2 miles from downtown, but the student vibe infuses the entire city, which is part of the reason Gainesville has such a thriving music scene. The most notable band to hail from here is Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, but there's also an old-school, vibrant punk rock scene.