There are many Gainesvilles in many states, but the most famous one is Gainesville, Florida. Gainesville is located just east of Interstate 75 in northern Florida. Gainesville is the prototypical college town. The city revolves around the University of Florida, particularly its Gator football team.
Gainesville is a reasonably nice place to live for many types of people. Housing is extraordinarily cheap. There are many decent bookstores and cafes and surprisingly fantastic restaurants. The city is vivacious due to the strength of the Gator sports teams. During football season, Gainesville is a nonstop party. The university is good but not great academically, which is fine with most students who are enamored with Gainesville's exciting social activities.
Georgia, Jacksonville, Tampa, Orlando, the Atlantic Ocean, and the Gulf of Mexico are two-hour drives (assuming speeds over the speed limit) from Gainesville. The immediate surroundings are rather bleak though, so those who crave big city atmospheres will find Gainesville unsatisfying. The biggest drawback to the city (and to much of Florida) is the almost unbearable heat and humidity.