This weekend I came to an epiphany about Gainesville, a city I’ve come to know well over the past few years: there’s no shortage of places to explore.
I’ve been working in Gainesville for a little over six months, and before then I spent nearly every weekend for the past two-and-a-half years making the drive there from Lake City to go the movies or to Target (Lake City doesn’t have one, I’m still appalled.)
On Saturday I decided to drive down and visit the Haile Village Center, a small community located near the larger Haile Plantation. Haile Village Center is known for its weekly farmers market and local restaurants, and I knew I had to check it out for myself.
I’m a die-hard Gilmore Girls fan, and let me tell you when I got to the Haile Village Center I felt JUST like I was walking through Stars Hollow. The roads were lined with lush green trees, small shops, restaurants and adorable apartments.
The Haile Farmers Market was in full swing when I arrived. The streets were filled with vendors selling everything from homemade cheeses to plants to freshly baked good. There was live music and plenty of people walking through with their families and dogs.
My first stop was the Possum Hollow Farm booth. The family-run farm based in Alachua was selling the most beautiful floral arrangements. They were filled with vibrant pink flowers and lush green plants. I had heard about their flowers, and they were the main reason I decided to get to the Farmers Market at 9 a.m., because I knew they were extremely popular and I just had to grab a bouquet for myself.
After walking past booths selling meats, fruits, vegetables, olives, honey and homemade dishes, I stumbled upon The Gourmet Muffin’s booth. The Gourmet Muffin is a bake shop based out of Orlando, and the owner drives up to sell her muffins at the market. Each jumbo muffin smelled better than the next, with every flavor you could think of.
I decided to get the Strawberry Almond for myself and the S’mores for my boyfriend (he’s a huge chocolate addict.) The Strawberry Almond was filled with sweet strawberries and had a super crunchy top, and the S’mores looked delicious. The dense chocolate muffin was topped with two perfectly-toasted marshmallows and graham cracker pieces.
After wrapping those up to-go I decided to have breakfast at the Haile Village Bistro right outside the farmers market. They have an extensive breakfast and brunch menu with everything from quiche to eggs benedict. I opted for the fruit granola bowl (vanilla Greek yogurt topped with strawberries, blueberries and house-made, honey-roasted granola) and an iced coffee. The fruit granola bowl was light and prefect for a hot summer day. My friend got the croissant, which she said was super buttery and flakey.
The Haile Village Center is a great place to visit if you’re looking to get a dose of small-town charm. I recommend taking a Saturday to drive over, explore the farmers market, shop the local shops and eat at one of the restaurants located there. I’ll definitely be going back again very soon.