Tallahassee, FL

Tourism & Travel Tips: Tallahassee

Angela L. Dowdy

Situated at the top of the Red Hills region of the Florida Panhandle is the capital city of Tallahassee. This location was established as the capital in 1824 because it is approximately halfway between Pensacola and St. Augustine. Back then those were the two most important towns in Florida. The entire bottom half of the state was considered mostly uninhabitable swamp. Oh, how times have changed!

Today, Tallahassee is a friendly and vibrant multicultural destination known for intertwining the best of art, education, greenery, and history. It warmly welcomes everyone from college students to retirees. There are numerous murals all over town (like this one by artist Kenny Maguire) that add so much to the local culture.

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Here is just a sampling of the many incredible things to see and do in Tallahassee.

Canopy Roads

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Close your eyes, picture a two-lane country road where massive oak trees spread their arms overhead as enchanting streamers of Spanish moss hang down and softly dance in the breeze. THAT is a canopy road. Tallahassee has over 70 miles of those charming and cooling roads. They have a Canopy Roads Citizens Committee and a Map. Two of the most beautiful areas can be found on Meridian Road and Centerville Road.

Capitols

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The Old Capitol (now the Florida Historic Capitol Museum at 400 S. Monroe Street) was built in 1845. Highlights include an elaborate art glass dome, as well as red and white striped awnings. The 25-floor New Capitol has a height of 345 feet and was built in 1977. Many unique items on the grounds include obelisks, a replica of the Liberty Bell, and the “Stormsong” dolphin sculpture.

Cascades Park

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This pleasant L-shaped park opened in 2014, has numerous ponds, and is a storm water management facility. It is a great place for kids and pets. Cascades Park has an amphitheater, a flag, a fountain, and lots of trails and seating with the official address of 1001 S Gadsden Street. Info here: https://www.talgov.com/parks/parks-cascades.aspx

Culture

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The fashion of Tallahassee is primarily comfortable and casual. The festivals of Tallahassee cover art, ethnic groups, music, hemp, short films, and balloons. Perhaps the best known and most popular of all is “Springtime Tallahassee”, which began in 1968. It includes a parade that highlights Krewes dressed in costumes representing the five historical time periods of Florida’s past. The food of Tallahassee runs the entire culinary continuum from ethnic to fine dining to locally made sausage. The fun of Tallahassee can be whatever you are searching for, from art to museums to sports.

FAMU

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FAMU (Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University) is a prestigious public historically black university nestled among giant oak trees on 422 acres. It is known for diversity, research, and innovation. The school colors of the Rattlers are green and orange. Notable names who attended were Althea Gibson, Rob Hardy, “Bullet” Bob Hayes, Pam Oliver, Will Packer, the rapper “Common”, and the singer “T-Pain”.

FSU

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FSU (Florida State University) was established in 1851 as a seminary and underwent several name changes. The main campus covers 487 acres. It has all the expected amenities, plus a circus, at least two museums, a magnetic laboratory, and a bowling alley. FSU Seminoles have won two football championships. The mascot is Chief Osceola and his horse Renegade. Famous alumni include Stephanie Abrams, Cam Akers, Faye Dunaway, Paul Gleason, Jim Morrison, Burt Reynolds, and Deion Sanders.

Kleman Plaza

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This is the hub of relaxation and entertainment in downtown Tallahassee. It has beautiful greenspace with benches and fountains. There are also shops, restaurants, theaters, luxury condos, and an underground parking garage at Kleman Plaza. Musicians perform here frequently.

Lake Ella

Situated at N Monroe Street and S Lake Ella Drive, this delightful little park is a favorite local spot to walk and feed ducks. There is a gazebo, picnic area, and usually spur-of-the-moment entertainment by local musicians. Nearby stone cottages and American Legion Post 13 house locally owned businesses.

Mission San Luis

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Apalachee Indians and Spanish explorers peacefully coexisted on this site for three generations, starting in 1656, blending native customs with Catholic beliefs. As aggressive English soldiers approached from the north, these residents burned down their own village before they fled to avoid capture. This fascinating reconstructed mission and living history museum at 2100 Tennessee Street is a National Historic Landmark full of art and artifacts.

Nature

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This section of Florida has such diversity in plants and animals. Sections of fertile lush farmlands sit only a few miles from forests and swamps. Cypress trees and lily pads add such interest to ponds and lakes. There are roads where you can see deer and bears on the forest side and alligators on the swamp side! Yes, at the same time! Florida got its name from Ponce de Leon in 1512; “la florida” means abundant flowers and, yes, beautiful blossoms can be seen in Tallahassee throughout the year.

Railroad Square Art District

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Ten acres of old industrial warehouses were transformed to become this creative haven of vintage goods, whimsical art, weird theatre, great food, and so much more. Especially popular for “First Friday” monthly gallery hop, Tallahassee’s longest running festival for music, shopping, viewing, and fun. Railroad Square Art District is centrally located at 618 McDonnell Drive, between FSU, FAMU, and Downtown. Info here: https://www.railroadsquare.com/

Red Hills (the Park…and the Horse Event)

Ok, the official name is: Red Hills International Horse Trials and Trade Fair. The official location is Elinor Klapp-Phipps Park 4000 N Meridian Road, Tallahassee. This spectacular equestrian competition normally occurs each year on the second weekend in March. Dressage and jumping are highlights enjoyed by thousands of spectators.

Conclusion

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Tallahassee, Florida has something for everyone. Plenty of open space with trails for walking and biking. Plenty of waterways for fishing or kayaking. Plenty of shops, galleries, and museums to inform and entertain. There are football games in the Fall, colorful lights in the Winter, lots of festivals in the Spring, and ample sunshine while working on your Summer tan. Bring a sweater for Fall and Winter. Bring sun block and bug repellent for Spring and Summer. Bring a huge appetite for food and fun since the friendly locals are always happy to suggest the best places to dine and exciting things to do.

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My focus is on exuberant people and exciting places in the Southeastern United States. I love interviewing people from all walks of life because EVERY person is fascinating! I also write about Food, Art, and Travel. Because I am over 50, on disability, and female...you will easily see that reflected in my worldview. Hopefully, you will find my articles informative, entertaining, and FUN!

Tallahassee, FL
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