To gain some perspective on Gainesville, it might be helpful to read a few travel guides first. There are several books that provide a good introduction to Gainesville, especially the mammoth University of Florida here. McCarthy and Laurie’s Guide to the University of Florida and Gainesville provides quite a bit of information about local attractions. Frommer’s, Lonely Planet, Unofficial Guides and a few other companies publish guide references for Florida. Look for one of the northern or central part of the state.

Grunwald’s The Swamp: The Everglades, Florida, and the Politics of Paradise provides a more historical and analytical perspective, but at over 450 pages, may be a bit heavy for the casual traveler. There are also numerous books such as Gainesville Ripper (Mary Ryzuk) or The Making of a Serial Killer (edited by Sondra London) that detail the brutal murders of five local students in 1990 by Danny Rollings.

Once in town, check out some of the local periodicals. The most widely read newspaper is the Gainesville Sun, a regional branch of the New York Times. Some conservatives, however, prefer the more right-leaning Florida Times-Union from nearby Jacksonville. The Gainesville Sun also prints the Gainesville Guardian, aimed at the city’s African-American population. The University of Florida’s daily newspaper (published twice-weekly during the summer), the Independent Florida Alligator, also enjoys widespread circulation.