|North Central Florida|
North Central Florida is a region of the U.S. state of Florida which comprises the north-central part of the state and encompasses the Gainesville Metropolitan Statistical Area (Alachua and Gilchrist counties), and the North Florida counties of Bradford, Columbia, Hamilton, Lafayette, Madison, Marion, Putnam, Suwannee and Union. The region's largest city is Gainesville, home of the University of Florida, while the largest metropolitan area is the Ocala Metropolitan Area. Other major cities in the region include Lake City, and Palatka. As of 2010, the region had a population of 873,189.
Like the rest of North Florida, including the Florida Panhandle, the region is often recognized as part of the Deep South, as compared to the rest of the state, particularly to Central Florida and South Florida in the lower peninsula.
The landscape and climate of North Central Florida are distinct from the sub-tropical environment most associated with the rest of the state. The landscape of North Central Florida has gently rolling hills dominated by magnolia trees and large Southern live oak hammocks draped with Spanish moss. The region also has large expanses of pine forests. The climate is quite mild throughout the year but has very distinct winters with temperatures dropping below freezing quite often.
North Central Florida's southernmost county, Marion County, borders northern Central Florida and some regions of the Nature Coast area. Many other counties in the region border the Nature Coast area, Alachua, Gilchrist and Hamilton included. North Central Florida is not affected by hurricanes as much as its neighboring counties to the east and west
North Central Florida has a few cities and many small towns or settlements, some of which are along rivers and lakes.
Unlike Central Florida and the Suncoast area, North Central Florida does not have many amusement parks or large theme parks. Instead, it features many parks with nature as their theme. North Central Florida also has many small turn-of-the-century towns that represent the culture of the Deep South. A significant attraction of North Central Florida is that it is the main location of the University of Florida, and the site of the stadiums for its sports teams, the Florida Gators.