Gainesville has amazing food options, but all too often students opt to eat at fast-casual joints. They're quick, easy and all around campus. When you're busy with work and studies, eating is not always the main priority.

Luckily for us, the spring semester is usually a little slower than the fall. Without football season in session, UF students typically have more time on the weekend to stray from routine and do something fun. You might have a chance to spend an entire day eating. If you're like me, you start thinking about where you're going to eat on the weekend as soon as you wake up Monday morning.

Here are some places around Gainesville that are perfect for grabbing a delicious meal and having a whole day of fun while you're at it! Grab a couple of friends and head out for some good grub and attractions to occupy those lazy spring days.

Duncan's in Cedar Key

Duncan's on the Gulf is a beautiful restaurant in Cedar Key, Florida. It sits right on the water, perched on stilts over the Gulf of Mexico. The view from this restaurant is amazing, especially if you can get a table around sunset. Duncan's specializes in seafood, but their other American options are just as yummy. They serve breakfast, lunch and dinner, so you can head over whenever you want!

This restaurant is a little over an hour away from Gainesville, so you'll want to hit up the other attractions of Cedar Key while you're there. Cedar Key is all about the slow-paced life and the chill vibes. There you can find gorgeous, relaxing beaches, and opportunities for other water activities like fishing and canoeing.

Fresco in Haile's Plantation

Mackenzie Patel

Fresco Pizza and Pasta is the place for you if you are craving a hearty Italian meal. But honestly, when is anyone not craving a big bowl of pasta? This restaurant is moderately priced and worth the extra few bucks just for the ambiance. You wouldn't believe an Italian restaurant this classy could hold its own in Gainesville. Fresco is open for dinner every night and brunch on Saturdays and Sundays. My favorite dish is the build-your-own pasta, and it comes with a side of bread and salad.

Fresco is in the popular village center of Haile Plantation. This center is comprised of buildings with ranch style architecture. This is a nice area to walk around and shop, especially when it's illuminated with lovely strings of light at night. There are also a couple of places to have dessert if you still have room after you eat! Haile Plantation is a perfect place to go on a date.

Pearl's Barbecue in Micanopy

Pearl Country Store & Barbecue has authentic barbecue and a wide selection of books, wine and other convenience store items! It is just 10 miles south of Gainesville in Micanopy, Florida. With 4.5 stars and 124 reviews on Yelp, people are raving about this place. Pearl boasts on its website that it is "famous for our barbecue, ribs, pork, and chicken."

The store part of this establishment is worth taking some time to look around. Pearl has a wide variety of items including Florida heritage books, locally grown produce, candy, lottery tickets, you name it! Outside of the restaurant, Micanopy is a small town with an old-fashioned charm. You can explore their antique shops and other crafts.

If you have some free time, head on out to one of these spots! Fill your belly and explore parts of Florida so close to home that you would never even think of going to.