21 and Oh So Fun, Here is where to celebrate!

haveuheard 21 uf fun

An official adult now! Have fun!

As do many students, my daughter turned 21 in the fall of her junior year at UF. There’s a fun UF tradition where many girls, as they celebrate their 21st birthday, celebrate with what is called a Sign Night. It’s a night when their friends make a pasteboard sign – often large and glittery – that sums up their personality and jump-starts the birthday party. So, here are the favorite places that those 21 and over recommend when going out to have Happy-21st-style fun.

But before we send them off to their Turn-21-on-the-Town, be sure to join in their birthday fun by sending them a few celebratory goodies, like some flowers from Bouqs, treats from Milk Bar or Dirty Cookie, or even a Fandango gift card. For more birthday ideas, be sure to visit our suggestions at our Happy Birthday Care Packages blog.

21, Here They Come!


  • The Arcade Bar – This is what happens when you combine a pub and a bar. This three-story bar has a bar on the first floor with TVs for Gator fans, a wraparound mezzanine overlooking the first floor with classic arcade games, hockey, and more, and a full-service bar with foosball, pinball, skeeball on the third level. They also have an outdoor patio.
  • The Backyard at Boca Fiesta & Palomino – They sum up their appeal like this: “Live music, DJs, sports, margaritas, action movies, shots, cheap beer…the list is long and awesome.” You’ll also want to check their changing calendar of events.
  • Boca Fiesta – While a Mexican-style restaurant, those over 21 love their full outdoor bar with a big screen TV airing Florida sports. Check out their local and touring bands and DJs.
  • Cry Baby’s – A self-avowed “high-class dive bar,” it’s a venue known for its fun ambiance, great burgers, and happy hour pricing. Be sure to check out their nightly and weekly specials.
  • Downtown Fats – A new bar in a familiar and stylish place (the former Rockey’s Dueling Piano Bar).

Still making the rounds Downtown…

  • Madrina’s – A Cuban-American cocktail bar specializing in fine rums along with classic and original cocktails. It was recently voted one of the Top Ten New Cocktail Bars in the Eastern United States.
  • Palomino Pool Hall – Get ready to chalk up your cues when you head to the Pool Hall, Bar and Night Spot. If billiards isn’t your game, check out the ping pong, foosball, or air hockey tables. Or head to the outside patio with live and DJ music alongside a dance floor. They offer expanded happy hours from 4-8 pm, Monday through Saturday, and all day on Sunday. Don’t miss their featured frozen drink machine.
  • The Top Hub – All located in a little downtown cluster, you can craft a whole night of hub partying with good food and good drinks at The Top itself, dance parties and live music (Thursday – Saturday) at their mid-sized Atlantic club, crazy gaming fun at their three-storied Arcade Bar, or a more personal celebration at their intimate watering hole called The Dime.
  • White Buffalo – Temporarily closed. One of the newer bars opened in the downtown area, serving up cocktails, beer, and finger foods. Thursday is Latin Night.


  • Fat Daddy’s Bar & Grill – Think a dark, somewhat cheap but very loud bar that college kids seem to love. There is a cover charge and, on many weekend nights, you can expect a wait. C’mon…we all know loud fun is good fun!
  • JJ’s Tavern– This pizzeria and bar opened last year, taking over long-running Copper Monkey. It is already attracting a lot of the over-21 crowd.
  • Rowdy Reptile Bar & Grill – Located on the second floor in midtown, this place gets pretty packed on game days. Known for their cheap drinks, daily specials, and bar food, Rowdy’s also has a basketball hoop and a small dance floor.
  • Salty Dog Saloon – The Salty Dog is one of those places students head for as soon as they are of age. The allure includes over 80 imported brews from all over the world, finger foods, pizza, and sandwiches. Happy hour specials are served every day from 4-7 pm during fall and spring semesters. Not a place to dress up — kind of a quintessential college dive bar.
  • Social at Midtown – One of the newest restaurants and sports bars in midtown, this one has a rooftop bar. Come for their 32 craft beers on top, cocktails, and a full menu. Go to watch football on their 60 flat-screen TVs, too.


Gainesville has also become a mecca for breweries. Here are the top ones:

  • Big Top Brewing – originally from Sarasota, this newest Brewery is located next to Mark’s Prime Steakhouse on SE Second Avenue.
  • Blackadder Brewing Co. – Blackadder, serving over 30 different beers and ciders, is one of the newer Gainesville breweries. It was opened by a couple active in homebrewing. They’ve medaled in over 30 beer competitions throughout Florida and the U.S., so I would definitely trust their brewery skills.  For the non-beer drinking types, check out their wine and natural soda. And when you need some food as a follow-up, they have a food truck outside.
  • First Magnitude Brewing Company – A craft brewery and taproom with four year-round beers that the brewery balances out by adding in seasonal favorites. To go with your beer, head outside to check out the food truck on premises – there’s a different one every day.
  • Swamp Head Brewery – This is one of the original breweries in Gainesville. You can even take a tour, try one of their five year-round brews, or sample a current seasonal brew. Try your hand at cornhole, Darts, Jenga, or their giant Connect 4, all more easily attempted (but perhaps less humorous) while you are sober. Food specials include Cilantro Taco Tuesdays and Sausage & Suds Thursdays.
  • Cypress and Grove Brewing Company –  At its downtown home, this brewery is located in a former ice house. They now use the well that draws its water from the Floridan aquifer (and was originally used to create ice) to brew their beers. The brewery features six distinct brews created on-site with seasonal and limited release beers and also offers a selection of wine and Kombucha.

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2020-09-29T13:51:05-04:000 Comments

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