The state capital of Florida, Tallahassee, boasts nature, museums and, of course, the Seminoles. It’s a small city with a big history. One has an inviting vibe and an air of youthfulness.
The compact downtown district is where you’ll have access to a range of art galleries, museums and happening nightlife. It doesn’t take long to get beyond the city boundaries to find state parks and wildlife refuges. This delightful balance means there’s always a way to rearrange the things to do in Tallahassee depending on the weather or if the kids aren’t up for another hike.
This balance between nature, culture and history makes Tallahassee a destination that will appeal to many travelers and families. Don’t be surprised if this variety has you coming back for more.
14. Alfred B. Maclay Gardens State Park
Both a botanical garden and historic site, Alfred B. Maclay Gardens State Park, is a unique and beautiful attraction. Covering a section north of Tallahassee, the expansive park is also a part of the Killearn Plantation Archaeological Historic District.
To begin with, it’s your classic and colorful botanical garden experience. But beyond the blooming flowers lies almost 20 historic buildings. The park is almost two centuries old and is laden with azaleas, magnolias and camellias.
You can hike, cycle or horseback ride along the many paths. Stop by the Alfred B. Maclay home or even set out on a kayak to explore the park’s lake.
13. Apalachicola National Forest
Set between Tallahassee and the fishing town of Apalachicola, the Apalachicola National Forest is a haven for nature lovers and hikers. The national forest is home to an amazing mix of habitats, from longleaf pine forests, to swamps, surging rivers and tranquil lakes.
One of the best things to do here is to escape the heat with a swim. At Silver Lake, you can walk through the gorgeous forests to the water’s edge and 250 feet of golden sand before diving in.
There are also 80 miles of hiking trails that range from short interpretive hikes to multi-day adventures. As you hike, be sure to visit Fort Gadsden Historic Site.
12. Lake Ella & Fred Drake Park
Just north of downtown, Lake Ella & Fred Drake Park is your easy and tranquil escape from the heart of the city. The lake itself is the main draw, being a beautiful body of water in the center of the park. One that has become a popular Tallahassee attraction for residents.
Park visitors can make the most of the scenic walking trails that envelope the lake, providing views of the water as it glistens under the sun while spotting geese, swans, and even the odd turtle. As you walk, you’ll find picnic areas and spacious lawns perfect for hanging with friends or tucking into a good book.
11. Goodwood Museum and Gardens
Set on a stately 19th century plantation, the Goodwood Museum and Gardens is a look back to life in Florida in the 1800s. Surrounded by lush, manicured gardens, the Antebellum home stands much as it did after construction was complete in the 1830s.
Visitors can explore the home that boasts impeccable glasswork, period furnishings, textiles and artwork that hung on the walls in its heyday. The highlight of the design, however, is the fresco ceilings that add a resplendent aura to the home.
From Tuesday to Saturday, you can join a guided tour of the house and opulent gardens, along with several adjoining cottages.
10. Railroad Square Art District
In the 1970s, a World War II-era industrial warehouse area lay dormant not far from downtown. In the ensuing years, it would become a part of a fresh revitalization that transformed the abandoned space into a place of creativity and expression, otherwise known as Railroad Square Art District.
Vibrant and colorful, the district has been taken over by artists and artisans who’ve transformed the buildings into a mix of art galleries and boutique stores. It has a perennial atmosphere complemented by the array of murals, prismatic buildings and random attractions. Such as pinball arcades and indoor rock climbing.
It’s a place to wander and get lost. That’s how you’ll discover the weird and interesting, including a railroad caboose that’s now a cafe.
9. Tallahassee Museum
If you’re seeking a unique way to experience local history, then you must add the Tallahassee Museum to your itinerary. Sure, you might be thinking, another museum? But no local museum is like this one.
The Tallahassee Museum blurs the line between a history repository and an adventure park. The ziplines, hiking trails and wildlife enclosures make it a thrilling experience that will keep the entire family entertained.
Begin on the elevated boardwalks by a series of enclosures home to almost 20 different species. Along the way, you’ll also spot buildings from the 1800s, such as an old plantation home and schoolhouse. Later, soar across the park on a zipline before getting your dose of cute at Big Bend Farm.
8. Mission San Luis de Apalachee
It’s one thing to see history in a museum, but it’s hard to top a painstaking restoration of the real thing. The original Mission San Luis de Apalachee was built in the 17th century. Then it was a Spanish Franciscan mission in the heart of the Apalachee Province.
Although the first iteration was destroyed, visitors can get an impressive look at mission life thanks to the recreation of several buildings, including the fort, church, blacksmith and a Spanish house.
Now a Registered US National Landmark, Mission San Luis de Apalachee is an amazing place to explore, complete with genuine artifacts from the 17th and 18th centuries.
7. Knott House Museum
Built in the 1830s by a freed slave, George Proctor, the Knott House Museum, is most known as the location where Brig. General Edward McCook would announce the Emancipation Proclamation. That was in 1865 and the home has been a temporary headquarters for the Union for several years.
Over 120 years later, the famous building was donated to the city’s historic society. Today, it functions as a museum that tells the home’s fascinating story, starting with George Proctor, the Emancipation and the series of interesting characters that called the Knott House home in the ensuing years.
Restored to its 1920s grandeur, the Knott House museum is complete with period furniture and you can gain further insight by joining a guided tour.
6. Florida State University
A huge part of life in Tallahassee, the Florida State University is home to over 30,000 students and covers a huge part of northern downtown. Tallahassee has its own history outside of the university, but the campus is a big part of local culture, from both an academic and sports perspective.
Visitors can jump on a tour departing from the Visitor Information Center, or just use the center’s repository of maps and knowledge to explore the campus on a whim. As you wander, you’ll come across Bryan Hall, built in 1907, Landis Hall and its sun-soaked courtyard along with the Strozier Library.
During the fall, tailgaters take over campus and crowds pack the 80,000-seat Doak Campbell Stadium. If you happen to be in town, grab a ticket or join the tailgate for a memorable local experience.
5. Cascades Park
With all your favorite park snacks and games in the car, take a break from the sights and enjoy some time in the sun. Cascades Park is a popular urban space with walking trails, amphitheaters, playgrounds and water features. It’s a pleasant way to grab some fresh air without having to wander far.
On a typical Florida summer day, you could escape to the coast, but you’ll also find over 70 water jets in the park’s playgrounds. Head for the shade while the young ones cool off.
To stretch your legs, wander down the walking trails, pass soaring trees with Spanish moss, creating an array of light and shade. Along the way, you’ll find several historic landmarks, including the Prime Meridian Marker and the Smokey Hollow Commemoration.
4. Museum of Florida History
Since opening in 1977, the Museum of Florida History has been a one stop shop for locals and visitors wishing to learn everything about the Sunshine State. But it’s not just contemporary history that’s covered. Visitors will see artifacts, relics and memorabilia from long before Florida joined the union. Some pieces even date back over 12,000 years.
Set in Downtown Tallahassee, the museum is easy to reach, leaving you plenty of time to explore the large museum. There are three permanent exhibits that are complemented by various traveling exhibitions.
Aside from ancient artifacts, a key part of the museum is its Civil War and Second World War halls. The former for its array of uniforms and relics, and the latter for its poignant memorial.
3. Tallahassee Automobile Museum
Whether you’re a motorhead or not, there’s plenty to keep your interest at the Tallahassee Automobile Museum. The enormous indoor space boasts a spectacular collection of vintage cars but some rather odd creations you’ll be happy aren’t on the roads today.
The museum first opened in 1996 and today features over 140 vehicles. Most of these were made right here in the United States, with the Tallahassee Automobile Museum putting a high emphasis on cars that became a part of the country’s culture.
Beyond your classic Mustangs, you’ll be able to see the funeral hearse that was used for Abraham Lincoln or Batman mobiles used in the actual movies.
2. St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge
One of the best ways to experience the nature around Tallahassee is to spend some time in St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge. The expansive refuge is one of the oldest in the United States. It harbors a rich mix of ecosystems that help make Florida’s Gulf Coast so special.
Adventurers will be able to explore tidal creeks, marshlands, estuaries and even islands, using a variety of hiking trails and watercraft. As the name suggests, this is a refuge for wildlife and you should expect to see some on your travels. The park is home to alligators, coyotes and black bears, not to mention a prominent population of migratory birds in winter.
The refuge is also a place of history, being the home of St. Mark’s Lighthouse. Built in May, 1828, it’s the second oldest lighthouse in Florida.
1. Florida Historic Capitol Museum
Set within Tallahassee’s former capitol building, the Florida Historic Capitol Museum will take you on a journey through the state’s government and political history. But before you even step foot in the museum, you’ll be captivated by the sight of one of the city’s most significant pieces of architecture.
After being built in 1845, the beautiful building, complete with its iconic red and white awnings, was the capitol until 1977. After admiring the facade, its columns and spire, wander inside to the opulent lobby, fixed with a glass ceiling. Once home to Florida’s state leaders, 21 rooms in the building now house the museum’s exhibits.
Visitors will go back to the 1840s and learn about the foundation of Florida. On your return to the present day, you’ll explore their vast collection of memorabilia, photos and video, not to mention the chambers, Senate and Supreme Court.