The capital of the state of Florida, Tallahassee is a great place to come if you are looking for a little bit of everything in one place. Florida is primarily known for its gorgeous scenery, and you certainly won’t be disappointed in Tallahassee thanks to the plethora of flora and fauna on offer in the form of state parks, wildlife reserves, and animal refuges. Many of these green spaces also feature historical buildings, of which there are many in the local area, such as missions, plantation buildings, and vintage houses.
If you want to stay indoors and beat the Florida heat, then you find an array of interesting museums here that will teach you anything from the history of the automobile to the importance of natural science in this part of the United States. At the end of the day, you can cap things off with a visit to a traditional Blues club, or enjoy some of the fine dining or cafe culture that exists in Tallahassee. Whatever you want to do however, you will certainly be spoiled for choice in this enclave of sunny Florida.
Lets explore the best things to do in Tallahassee:
1. Florida Historic State Capitol Museum
For anyone interested in politics, a trip to the Florida Historic State Capitol Museum is not to be missed if you are town.
The museum is located in the Historical Capitol Building that was built in 1845 and lovingly restored when the new capitol was built.
You can now tour the museum and take in rooms such as the Governor’s office, the House of Representatives, and the Supreme Court, and there are also a wealth of antiques on display including over 250 items such as vintage photographs and hands-on exhibits where you can learn about the history of Tallahassee.
2. Mission San Luis de Apalachee
Mission San Luis de Apalachee was built in 1633 and is a Spanish Franciscan mission building that sits in what was Apalachee Province.
All the buildings in this settlement were destroyed years ago, but you can still see some of them thanks to an amazing and painstaking restoration project.
These include the fort, a church building, a convent, a Spanish house, a blockhouse, and a few other smaller dwellings.
The mission is a U.S National Landmark and you can tour the property if you want to get a glimpse of how life would have been in the days of old.
The buildings are also filled with period artifacts some of which date back 300 years.
3. Knott House Museum
Knott House Museum was built in 1834 and is famous for being the place where Abraham Lincoln read out the Emancipation Proclamation.
The house used to belong to William and Luella Knott and was gifted to the Historic Tallahassee Preservation Board who opened it as a museum in 1992. Nowadays you can go on a guided tour of the museum to learn more about the history of the house and the surrounding area with one of the knowledgeable docents who work here.
4. Lake Ella and Fred Drake Park
The charmingly named Lake Ella is a 12 acre area of water that sits in the middle of the Fred Drake Park.
The area has fountains, shaded picnic areas, and walking trails that take you around the lake so that you can enjoy the picturesque views here.
You can walk, skate, or bike along the trail, and if you like wildlife then you are in for a treat thanks to the huge plethora of species on show here.
These include ducks and geese and even turtles that pop their heads out from the lake from time to time.
5. Tallahassee Museum of History and Natural Science
The Tallahassee Museum of History and Natural Science is science center focused on the environment which is also made up of buildings of historical significance as well as a zoo.
The museum has the mission statement to educate others on the importance of natural history and the environment in the local area and you will find a huge range of exhibits that do just that.
These include the Big Ben Farm which will take you back in time to the 1800s so that you can see how farming would have been done in the days of old.
You can also see animals like deer, bears, and bobcats as well as endangered species in the zoo such as red wolves and Florida panthers.
6. Alfred B. Maclay Gardens State Park
If you like botanical gardens then you will love the Alfred B. Maclay Gardens State Park which stretches over 1,176 acres of land.
The area is also a U. S Historic District named the Killearn Plantation Archeological and Historic District.
You will find a range of historic buildings here, and the park dates from 1823 when it first opened to the public.
Many people come here for the gorgeous flora and fauna including azaleas and camellias.
There are also Japanese maples and dogwoods that provide some shade if you want to go for a walk in the late afternoon as well as the Native Plant Arboretum.
You can also go cycling, hiking, and fishing in the park.
7. Tallahassee Automobile Museum
The Tallahassee Automobile Museum is dedicated to showcasing beautiful vintage cars, so if you love automobiles then make sure not to miss this amazing attraction when you are in town.
The museum stretches over 100,000 square feet and all the items in the collection are the result of donations.
Most of the pieces here are cars that were made in America, as the aim of the museum is to celebrate and promote the history of the automobile industry in the United States.
There are over 140 different kinds of automobiles on display, and these include amazing historical gems such as the original funeral hearse that carried the body of Abraham Lincoln as well as three versions of the Batmobile.
8. The Lake Jackson Mounds Archaeological State Park
The Lake Jackson Mounds Archaeological State Park sits on the southern shoreline of the impressive Lake Jackson.
The park is widely considered to a place of significant archaeological significance in the area, and the Lake Jackson Mounds are thought to date from 1050 to 1500 AD. Two of the mounds can be visited here and are listed on the U.S National Register of Historic Places.
As well as the mounds themselves, you can also visit the park and enjoy walking trails that will take you through the beautiful Florida landscape.
9. Bradfordville Blues Club
If you love Blues, then you need to make your way to the Bradfordville Blues Club where you can catch a performance by some of the best Blues musicians in the Florida area.
The building is located amongst cornfield and oak trees which gives it a rural Tallahassee ambience and there are different performances held every week, so check out local listings to see who will be in residence when you are in town.
10. St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge
The St. Marks Wildlife Refuge first opened in 1931, which makes it one of the oldest wildlife refuges in the whole of the United States.
The refuge sits on 68,000 acres of land that reflects the gorgeous plant life of the Gulf of Mexico, and you can expect marsh lands, inlets, creeks, and estuaries.
Also on the refuge you will find St. Marks Lighthouse, which has the claim to fame of being the second oldest lighthouse in Florida.
In the refuge you will find animals like coyotes, bobcats, and black bears, and you can go fishing here as well as boating.
There are also hiking trails all over the park and you can either go hiking or biking here.
11. Challenger Learning Center
The Challenger Learning Center is part of the Florida A&M University and spans 32,000 square feet of science related space.
The facility also focuses on technology, engineering, and mathematics, and there is an IMAX theater here that shows films in 3D. You will also find other exciting features such as a Space Mission Simulator and a dome theater and planetarium.
Many of the exhibits and galleries are hands on so that children can learn about science in a fun and exciting way.
12. Goodwood Museum and Gardens
The Goodwood Museum and Gardens features a plantation house that was built in the 1830s and still lies much as it would have done in days gone by amid 16 acres of land.
The gardens that surround the house itself are covered in rolling lawns and lush foliage and the house is built in the antebellum style.
As such you will original features here such as glass work, antique furniture, period porcelain, textiles, and even vintage artwork like paintings and etchings.
If you do visit, then make sure to look up, as the plantation house is also known for its fresco ceilings which are considered one of its signature features.
13. St. Marks Lighthouse
St. Marks Lighthouse sits on the St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge and dates from 1831, meaning that this is the second oldest in the state of Florida.
The lighthouse is listed on the U. S National Register of Historic places and is famous for having stood in the same spot since 1842 despite wars, erosion, and hurricanes.
Happily, you can now visit the lighthouse and learn how this amazing monument has kept boats safe in the area over the years.
14. Tallahassee-St. Marks Historic Railroad State Trail
The Tallahassee-St. Marks Historic Railroad State Trail is actually the oldest trail in Florida, and runs along the former railway line from Tallahassee to St. Marks.
The trail runs for 16 miles and is paved, so that you can choose to walk, run, bike, or even skate along it to take in the Florida scenery.
Along the way you will find picturesque spots to stop off at such as the Felburn Foundation Boundless Playground which is sure to be a hit with younger visitors.
15. Lake Talquin State Forest
The Lake Talquin State Forest stretches over an impressive 17,000 acres of land, so if you love the great outdoors, then this is the place to come.
The park has a huge number of attractions as you would expect which include things such as hiking, horseback riding, and biking, and if you want to stay longer here then you can even camp in the forest.
Many people come here for the local flora and fauna such as bobcat, deer, and wild turkeys, as well as beautiful maples and oak trees.