Only 20 minutes outside of Tallahassee in Gadsden County, Florida, is the small city of Quincy. With a population of only 8000 people, it draws many tourists due to its proximity to major attractions in the region, while being removed from the hustle and bustle of bigger centers.
The city’s establishment in 1828 means that beautiful Victorian-era architecture is a common sight; this is particularly evident in the charming downtown area. The city – in particular, the downtown square – really gives visitors a taste of how Florida once was in the good ol’ days.
It’s the perfect escape for people who wish to experience both the modern and historical aspects of the region while having everything they want to see and do at their fingertips.
Below are 15 of the best things to do in and around Quincy, Florida.
1. Apalachicola River Blueway National Recreation Trail
Visitors who wish to get a real taste of the natural side of the area can do so at the Apalachicola River Blueway National Recreation Trail, which runs from Lake Seminole to the Gulf of Mexico.
Not only can you observe dozens of species of plants, fish, birds, and mammals, but you can also participate in a variety of outdoor activities, including kayaking, canoeing, camping, and fishing. This National Recreation Trail hooks up with the Apalachicola River Paddling Trail System.
2. The Shade Tobacco Museum
The town of Havana, Florida, used to be well-known for its shade tobacco production, and visitors can learn about the history of the town and this industry at The Shade Tobacco Museum.
The tobacco grown in the town was known all over the country and was used in the making of the finest cigars. The tools used in the farming of tobacco and the manufacturing of cigars are on display, as well as various works of art by local artists.
3. Lake Talquin State Forest
Not too far from Tallahassee is Lake Talquin State Forest, a natural area with 17,000 acres of pristine wilderness perfect for many outdoor adventures. Bird-watching and nature viewing opportunities are abundant in the area, and visitors who wander along the nature trails come across many natural features, including sandhills, wetlands, and ravines.
At the High Bluff Camping Area, visitors have access to basic campsites, washrooms, a picnic area, and a pier with a boat ramp. Horseback riding and cycling are also popular activities in the area.
Because there’s so much emphasis on reforestation and ecosystem protection, there are plenty of learning experiences along the way.
4. Lake Jackson Mounds Archaeological State Park
A must-see for visitors who are interested in Archaeology is the Lake Jackson Mounds Archaeological State Park, which is one of the most important sites in the whole state.
Remnants of the Fort Walton culture, who lived in the area between 1050 and 1500, are the main draw at the site. Two of these temple mounds are open to the public, and there’s an interpretive trail and another nature trail that passes through a beautiful area with lush vegetation.
Many bird and animal species, including osprey, hawks, deer, and turtles, can be seen along the way. There’s a picnic area on-site, and guided tours are available with advance notice.
5. Museum of Florida History
One of the first things visitors might wish to do upon arrival in Quincy is head over to the Museum of Florida History to learn all there is to know about the state of Florida. It’s located in nearby Tallahasee.
This museum has numerous exhibits and artifacts detailing Florida’s history, going back as far as prehistoric times. Some of the permanent exhibits include Florida in the Civil War and World War II. A video presentation and educational programs are available.
6. Damfino’s Cafe & Market
The perfect lunch is one that offers fresh, homemade items made with locally-sourced, natural ingredients; that perfect lunch is available at Damfino’s Cafe and Market.
Choose from a variety of delicious sandwiches, salads, and cold plates, and either sit in and enjoy your meal in the cozy cafe or take it on the go.
Visitors can also enjoy an assortment of wines and local craft beers. The on-site market has local produce, dairy products, and many other items available.
7. Gadsden Arts Center & Museum
As a part of the North Florida Arts Trail, the Gadsden Arts Center & Museum is a popular attraction in Quincy. Visitors can view several exhibits showcasing fine art from local artists, as well as several galleries featuring regional and national art of historical and cultural significance.
Educational programs are offered throughout the year, and the Fletcher Museum Shop sells a variety of local artworks.
8. The Natural Bridge Battlefield Historic State Park
The Natural Bridge Battlefield Historic State Park, situated between Tallahassee and St. Mark’s, is where the second largest Civil War battle in Florida took place. The park includes a memorial commemorating the soldiers who defended Natural Bridge, set to the backdrop of stunning natural surroundings.
Some of the outdoor activities available in the area include hiking, canoeing, kayaking, and wildlife viewing. Bird-watchers have the opportunity to see bald eagles, woodpeckers, cardinals, and hawks.
Fishing on the St. Mark’s River is also a popular activity in the park, with opportunities to reel in sunfish, bass, snook, and crappie.
Some of the on-site amenities include a picnic area, washrooms, and interpretive exhibits. Guided tours are available, and if you happen to be in the area during the first week of March, you can witness a re-enactment of the famous battle for which the park is named.
9. The Quincy Florida Historic District
Visitors who take a stroll along the 36 blocks that make up The Quincy Florida Historic District get to experience the colorful history and rich heritage of the area. Old Quincy, as it is commonly known, features historic properties dating back to the early 1800s.
Some of these properties include John Lee McFarlin House, Centenary United Methodist Church, The Pat Munroe House, Eastern Cemetery, The Quincy Courthouse Square, and The Shade Leaf Building.
10. Shopping in Downtown Havana
A day in Havana is a must for visitors interested in a unique shopping experience. You won’t find big box stores in this historic district; only unique, locally-owned shops selling items you won’t find anywhere else.
Local artwork, custom-finished furnishings, jewelry, antiques, and the perfect gift for even the hardest person to buy for on your list can be found in Havana.
Take a break from shopping and grab a bite to eat at one of the charming eateries that can be found along the way.
11. The Alfred B. Maclay Gardens State Park
The Alfred B. Maclay Gardens State Park is over 1000 acres of gardens, natural green spaces, trails, historic landmarks, and outdoor activities. The gardens, in particular, include a brick walkway and reflection pool, along with hundreds of beautiful flowers.
The Maclay House is situated on-site and is a designated historic site which is open for tours during the high season.
There are six miles of multi-use trails for hiking, walking, biking, and horseback riding. There are also two shorter nature trails, and five miles of separate biking-only trails on-site.
Swimming, fishing, canoeing, and kayaking can be done on Lake Hall. Geocaching is a popular activity in the park, and visitors can see a variety of wildlife while wandering around, including deer, bobcat, and alligators.
On-site amenities include a picnic area, bicycle rental, a playground, and washrooms. At the visitor center, there are videos to watch, and you can request an audio tour of the site.
12. Leon Sinks Geological Area
The Leon Sinks Geological Area is one of the largest underwater cave structures on earth. The caves meet up with Wakulla Springs, which is home to eels and rare species of crustaceans, including a type that is only found in this specific area.
In total, there are five miles of hiking trails that take visitors through this environment known as Karst. The 3.6-mile Sinkhole Trail offers views of sinkholes and fascinating geological formations. The 2.8-mile Gum Swamp Trail circles around a cypress area and gum swamp. The half-mile Crossover Trail connects the two longer trails and brings visitors to an area where you have the option to hike a longer 4.4-mile outer trail.
While on the trails, you have the opportunity to view wildlife, including deer, snakes, raccoons, and various bird species.
13. Torreya State Park
The Torreya State Park is named after an uncommon type of Torreya tree that grows on the river bluffs around the area. The park is a favorite among outdoor enthusiasts; in fact, it’s said to be the best state park in the region for an array of outdoor activities, including hiking, camping, and bird-watching.
Many bird species, including brown creepers, sparrows, golden-crowned kinglets, and winter wren, are just some of the birds commonly seen in the area.
When it comes to the hiking, there are 16 miles of trails with views of high plateaus, bluffs, ravines, swamps, pinelands, and lush forest areas. The park also has camping and picnic areas. At the Gregory House historic site, you can take a tour and hear intriguing stories from the past.
14. Tallahassee-St. Mark’s Historic Railroad State Trail
The Tallahassee-St. Mark’s Historic Railroad State Trail is a combination state park and hiking trail. The hiking trail is actually a rail-trail that runs 16 miles along the old rail bed of the Tallahassee Railroad from Tallahassee to the area where the St. Mark’s River and Wakulla River meet.
Within this park area, visitors can also participate in a variety of activities, including cycling and horseback riding and there is even a playground for the younger ones.
15. Lake Ella
Visitors looking for a relaxing place to take a leisurely stroll in a peaceful environment can find that within the 12 acres of green space at Lake Ella in the center of Tallahassee.
With beautiful fountains, benches, and a short walking trail around the lake, you can relax and enjoy the scenery and natural surroundings that offer the opportunity to see ducks, geese, and turtles.
Food trucks and live music are familiar sights around the lake, and there are some little shops selling trinkets and snacks along the way.