Welcome to Tallahassee, the dynamic capital city of the Sunshine State, Florida! Tallahassee isn’t your typical Florida destination with sandy beaches and amusement parks. Instead, it offers a rich tapestry of history, nature, culture, and some of the best Southern food you’ll find in the state. From its iconic State Capitol building to its scenic parks and diverse museums, there’s a myriad of experiences waiting for you in Tallahassee. In this guide, we’ve compiled a list of 13 must-visit spots that make this city a standout gem in the heartland of Florida. Whether you’re a first-time visitor or a returning traveler looking for new experiences, join us on this journey to discover the unique charm of Tallahassee.
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1. Visit the Florida State Capitol
Make your first stop at the Florida State Capitol, the heart of political activity in the state. The iconic 22-story building stands tall in the cityscape, offering a panoramic view of Tallahassee from its 22nd-floor observatory. While the architecture is fascinating, it’s inside where the real magic happens. Watch lawmakers in action, stroll through the Hall of Governors, or immerse yourself in the informative exhibits of Florida’s political history.
2. Explore Tallahassee Museum
With an exciting blend of nature, history, and wildlife, the Tallahassee Museum is a one-of-a-kind experience. Home to a wide range of native Florida wildlife, historic buildings, and a thrilling tree-to-tree adventure course, this museum offers a unique perspective of Florida’s panhandle region. You might even spot a Florida panther if you’re lucky!
3. Wander in Alfred B. Maclay Gardens State Park
You can’t visit Tallahassee without spending a day in Alfred B. Maclay Gardens State Park. Known for its stunning ornamental gardens, the park is a horticultural masterpiece, especially from January to April when the floral bloom is at its peak. Don’t forget to visit Lake Hall for fishing, canoeing, and kayaking opportunities.
4. Discover History at Mission San Luis de Apalachee
Step back in time at Mission San Luis de Apalachee, a meticulously recreated 17th-century mission and fort. Here, history comes alive through interactive exhibits and the site’s living history interpreters. From the historic Spanish Church to the sprawling Apalachee Village, there’s plenty to explore in this historic landmark.
5. Take a Stroll in Cascades Park
Cascades Park, located in downtown Tallahassee, offers a perfect outdoor escape. It’s more than just a park—it’s a community hub. With numerous trails, an interactive water fountain, a discovery playscape for kids, and the Capital City Amphitheater, there’s always something going on here. And, if you’re interested in history, there’s a prime spot commemorating Smokey Hollow, a vibrant African American community from the 1890s.
6. Walk Through Florida State University Campus
The Florida State University Campus is a must-visit spot, whether you’re a prospective student, a college football enthusiast, or just a visitor. The picturesque campus is rich with history, striking architecture, and a lively atmosphere. Be sure to check out the famous Doak Campbell Stadium, the Ruby Diamond Concert Hall, and the beautiful Landis Green.
7. Soak Up Some Knowledge at the Museum of Florida History
The Museum of Florida History is another excellent stop for history buffs. The museum features exhibits tracing Florida’s history from prehistoric times to the present day. Explore exhibits on Florida’s native tribes, early European settlements, and even an WWII-era coast guard cutter!
8. Experience Wilderness at St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge
Just a short drive from Tallahassee, you’ll find the St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge. A paradise for nature lovers, this refuge is home to diverse habitats from coastal marshes to palm hammocks. Wildlife abounds here; keep an eye out for alligators, deer, and diverse bird species. Don’t forget to visit the historic St. Marks Lighthouse for an unbeatable view.
9. Get Inspired at LeMoyne Center for the Visual Arts
For art enthusiasts, LeMoyne Center for the Visual Arts is a must-visit. The center offers a variety of exhibits showcasing works from local, national, and international artists. Its lovely sculpture garden is also worth a stroll.
10. Visit the Historic Goodwood Museum & Gardens
Goodwood Museum & Gardens offers a glimpse into the South’s plantation-era history. The main house is filled with original 19th and early 20th-century furnishings. The surrounding gardens, replete with century-old oaks and camellias, make for a peaceful wander.
11. Relax in the Tranquil Lake Ella & Fred Drake Park
Lake Ella & Fred Drake Park, situated in downtown Tallahassee, is a perfect spot for a picnic or a leisurely stroll. The beautiful lake is surrounded by small local shops, and food trucks often park nearby. Don’t forget to feed the resident ducks!
12. Pay a Visit to Knott House Museum
The historic Knott House Museum is a gateway to another era. The 1843-built house, filled with original Knott family possessions, provides a unique perspective on daily life and social history of the 19th and 20th centuries.
13. Dive Into Science at the Challenger Learning Center
The Challenger Learning Center is a must-visit for families and science lovers. It features a planetarium, an IMAX 3D cinema, and interactive science exhibits that make learning fun and engaging.
From rich history to beautiful parks and vibrant academic life, Tallahassee offers a unique blend of experiences for every traveler. So, next time you’re planning a Florida trip, make sure to put Tallahassee on your itinerary.