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Famously known as the ‘Sunshine State’, Florida is one of the world’s most popular vacation destinations. And its capital city, Tallahassee, has plenty for you to see and do, too. From beautiful lush green gardens, challenging bike trails, an abundance of wildlife, stunning art wherever you turn and – our favorite – key lime pie, you need to put Tallahassee on your bucket list right now.
If you’re planning a trip to Tallahassee; what are you waiting for?! To help you make plans for your vacation so you can make memories you’ll cherish for a lifetime, this is our run-down of the 20 best things to do in Tallahassee…
A Little About Tallahassee
Steeped in history, culture and some of the world’s best live music, Florida’s capital city Tallahassee offers so much to see and do. It’s home to Florida State University, which attracts a vibrant population of students with plenty of school spirit, and is famous for its gardens, parks and green areas.
The climate in Tallahassee is considered subtropical; there are more sunny days than on average in the US with very warm summers. This makes it the ideal location for spotting wildlife, heading on holiday and generally enjoying life outdoors. There are plenty of beaches to enjoy too, whether you’re sunbathing, surfing or trying out a new watersport.
Tallahassee is also big on food. From coffee houses to late-night eateries serving dishes inspired from all over the world (and not forgetting Florida’s famous key lime pie), you’ll probably be pleasantly surprised by the culinary delights available. There are plenty of restaurants to try wherever you are in the city, so sit back, enjoy the good food and take in the many wonderful sights that Tallahassee has to offer.
And, of course, we couldn’t talk about Tallahassee without giving Disney World a mention. It’s only 267 miles from Tallahassee to the parks in Orlando, so if you fancy a visit to the most famous theme parks in the world, it’s only a road trip away.
If you’ve never been to Tallahassee before or have already visited but are looking for something new to try and discover, then we’ve researched some of the best things to do in Tallahassee to help you plan your trip.
Why Go to Tallahassee?
If you’re looking for a small town to explore with an artsy, cultural vibe then Tallahassee is the perfect place. Art is everywhere – on buildings, on street corners and in warehouses where local artists regularly showcase their work.
It’s also the ideal city to take up sports. You can try kayaking along Wacissa River, where you can paddle through calm, crystal clear waters and creaking trees, spotting the local wildlife in their natural habitat. Tellehassee is also home to some of the best mountain biking in Florida, with over 100 miles of exciting trails to explore.
Whatever you’re looking to do, Tallahassee really does have it all, so we’ve pulled together the 20 best things to do in Tallahassee so that you can get some inspiration for your next trip.
20 Best Things to do in Tallahassee
1. Try some delicious oysters at Bird’s Aphrodisiac Oyster Shack
Love oysters? Then don’t leave Tallahassee without giving Bird’s Aphrodisiac Oyster Shack a try. Choose from half a dozen, a dozen or an entire bucket of freshly caught oysters to share, then pick your spice and your toppings to give them a bit of a kick.
And don’t worry if you’re not a fan of seafood because there are juicy burgers, grilled and plain sandwiches, and fried chicken to enjoy instead. They’ve also got live music throughout the week, trivia on Tuesdays and karaoke on Thursdays and Fridays (if you’re feeling brave!). It’s a favorite with both locals and tourists, so soak up the good vibes and get a taste of Tallahassee’s friendly hospitality with a visit to the Oyster Shack.
2. Take a stroll around the beautiful Lake Ella
Located in central Tallahassee, Lake Ella is a beautiful 0.7 mile looped park that centres around three stunning fountains. You can enjoy a brisk walk along the sidewalk, taking a pit stop to feed the ducks, geese and turtles that call Lake Ella their home. Skateboarding is also permitted, and you’re welcome to take your dogs along too if they’re on a leash.
If you love trying new food then Food Truck Thursday is a day to pop in your diary. This is where all the best food vendors in Tallahassee gather to showcase their delicious flavors alongside a live brand. And with plenty of shops located around the lake, you can indulge in a bit of retail therapy while you’re there, too.
3. Discover the newly-renovated Cascades Park
Boasting a state-of-the-art amphitheatre, interactive water fountain and children’s play area, Cascades Park is a social hub that’s dedicated to the arts, entertainment and education. It was restored in 2000 after years of neglect, and has been transformed with 2.3 miles of biking and walking trails, beautiful landscaped greenery and clear ponds for you to enjoy.
A celebration of black culture and the once-thriving black community, Cascades Park is also home to historical markers and spirit houses that are a commemoration to Smokey Hollow. Take a slow stroll around the commemoration and be inspired by the rich history you can learn from.
4. Get arty at Railroad Square Art District
Hosting more than 70 studios, galleries and small shops, Railroad Square Art District is a wonderful area of creativity, art and culture. Many of Tallahassee’s best artists come here to showcase their work, and the first Friday of every month sees the exciting “First Friday Gallery Hop”. This is where you can tour galleries, shops, studios, and small, locally-owned businesses at Railroad Square.
Upon entering, you’ll discover a sculpture garden with memorial park benches. You’ll then come to a loop road that you can follow around the entire district, where you’ll see some of the city’s best art in one place. There are also nights dedicated to video games, live music and literary evenings for literature enthusiasts, so if you love art then it’s the only place to be in Tallahassee
5. Be awe-inspired by the amazing sights of Tallahassee River Sinks
See slanting sun rays glisten in the water pools. Admire the towering pine and hardwood trees. Challenge yourself with a hike over unpaved, natural paths. And take in the amazing sights of the local wildlife in their natural habitat. Tallahassee River Sinks is something to be wowed by.
There are loads of spring-fed sinkholes for you to jump into, complete with rope swings and handmade wooden diving boards. Head there on a hot summer’s day – it’s the perfect place to cool off and make the most of the Tallahassee sun beating down on you.
6. Learn more about plants and wildlife at St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge
Established in 1931, St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge was designed to provide wintering habitat for migrating birds. Today, the refuse emcompasses over 70,000 acres spread across neighbouring counties, including coastal marshes, islands, tidal creeks and estuaries of seven north Florida rivers.
With a visit to St.Marks, you’ll discover many species of plant and animal life, from the red-cockaded woodpecker to the American bald eagle. It’s also home to the St.Marks Lighthouse which was built in 182 and is still in use today. No matter what time of the year you visit, there’s something to see – check the calendar on their website to find out more.
7. Spend the day at the Edward Ball Wakulla Springs State Park
Located south of Tallahassee, Edward Ball Wakulla Springs State Park is the world’s largest and deepest freshwater spring rimmed by an ancient cypress swamp. It’s open 365 days a year until sundown, offering spectacular views of the Floridian sunset.
The sapphire waters boast manatees, alligators and other wildlife that you can view by river boat or the diving platform. You can also jump into the 70 degree water to cool off on a hot summer’s day. If you’re looking to do a guided tour then take advantage of the laidback river boat tours, or hop on a bike and go it alone with a gentle cycle. It’s an amazing day out you’ll cherish forever.
8. Go ghost hunting at The Phillips Mausoleum (if you dare…)
If you like creepy tales and Gothic-inspired monuments then take a trip to the Phillips Mausoleum. Located near the corner of Brevard and North Bronough streets, the onion-domed crypt was built in the 20th century for local Tallahassee architect Calvin.C Phillips. It’s a looming monument, with crumbling brickwork and a distinctive dome on top of the structure.
But here’s the creepy thing; after Phillips spent years building his crypt, some say that once his casket had finally been delivered, he locked himself inside the mausoleum, laid in the casket and instantly died. Some Tallahassee residents have even claimed to have seen Phillips’ ghost wandering around the cemetery. Head there after dark and see if you can spot him too…
9. Breathe in the fresh air at Lake Jackson Mounds Archaeological State Park
Another lush green open space, Lake Jackson Mounds Archaeological State Park emcompasses six of the seven known earthen temple mounds. Two of these are available for public viewing along two trails, offering visitors the chance to hike to the final destination.
At the end of a challenging hike, enjoy an alfresco picnic within full view of the two mounds or get the whole family together to enjoy being together in the beautiful open space. There’s also a pavilion available to be reserved if you plan to be there for a long time with a larger group of loved ones.
You can also take advantage of the many guided tours on offer, where you can spot birds and other wildlife in their natural habitat.
10. Enjoy a spot of fishing at Lake Jackson Aquatic Preserve
Known for its trophy largemouth bass, why not try your hand at fishing during your trip to Tallahassee? Lake Jackson Aquatic Preserve is a flat-bottomed lake at around 6 feet deep, and features two major sinkholes (where the depth reaches up to 28 feet). It’s internationally known for sport fishing, so if you take the sport seriously then it’s the perfect spot to try and catch something. It’s also the perfect location for beginners too, thanks to its crystal clear waters.
Even if fishing’s not quite for you, you can still enjoy all that Lake Jackson has to offer. Swing on over to the Lake Jackson Mounds Archaeological State Park for hiking, picnicking and wildlife spotting.
11. Discover what’s brewing at Proof Brewing Company
Something’s brewing in Tallahassee… The first and largest independently-owned brewery in Tallahassee, Proof Brewing Company is open for tasting, with a chic beer garden that welcomes children, dogs, and pretty much anyone who wants to be there. In the tasting room, you can look down through the large windows to the fermentation tanks, giving you a fascinating insight to how the beer is brewed.
If regular beer isn’t really your thing, there are plenty of other flavors to try instead. How about sweet mango? Or beer infused with sweet Thai chilli? You never know – you might just find a new favorite tipple.
12. Take a journey through time at the Tallahassee Automobile Museum
Love cars? Then make sure you swing by the Tallahassee Automobile Museum during your trip. It was begun by owner DeVoe Moore in 1966, who turned his passion for collecting cars and knives into showcasing antique cars and other collectibles to the general public. For only $17.50 per person, you can enjoy a whole day browsing over 160 rare automobiles, as well as sports memorabilia, boats, dolls and Native American artefacts. There’s even a Batmobile!
You can take the Lunch-n-Tour too, where you and your group will tour the museum and enjoy a buffet-style lunch in one of the magnificent banquet rooms. This is a great way to meet new people while squeezing in a delicious meal.
13. Embrace your inner child at Fun Station!
What could be better than hitting the arcades, whizzing around in go-karts, trying a spot of mini golf, beating your family at laser tag and topping it all off with a delicious pizza..? Nope, we can’t think of anything either!
Welcome to Fun Station – Tallahassee’s only family-owned fun centre! This is the place where kids big and small will have just as much fun as grown ups – and before you know it you’ll end up spending hours and hours trying out all the different attractions. There are always daily deals on offer, allowing you to get the most out of your trip to the Fun Station. If the weather’s less than perfect in Tallahassee then head here for some good old fashioned family fun.
14. Tackle the trails at Munson Hills Mountain Bike Trailhead
If you’re mad about biking then add a trip to Munson Hills on your Tallahassee bucket list. With over 21 miles of challenging yet scenic trails, it’s the ultimate place to test your skills and push yourself to the extreme.
When you’re ready to stop and take a break, be on the lookout for deer, fox squirrels, frogs, snakes, and the gopher tortoise. There are also plenty of picnic tables for you to carb up and take in the beautiful surroundings before you continue on your journey. The area links up with the Tallahassee-St. Marks Historic Railroad State Park bike trail – a 16-mile stretch of converted railway that will take you from Florida to the Gulf of Mexico. Saddle up…
15. Go on an adventure at Tallahassee Museum
Ranked as one of Florida’s top museums, the Tallahassee Museum is set amidst 52 acres of beautiful flora and fauna and has been a popular attraction with residents and tourists for over 60 years. Learn about North Florida’s natural environment, rich history and diverse cultural communities.
There really is so much to see and do here. Explore the 14 historic buildings and discover more about the history and lifestyles of southern communities. Indulge your curiosity with the museum’s 30 permanent exhibits. And finally, to top it all off, get the adrenaline pumping with an exciting zipline and aerial adventure course and explore the majesty of nature from high in the trees.
16. Go back in time at Mission San Luis
Be transported to the year 1704 with a visit to Mission San Luis; a time when Apalachee Indians and newcomers from Spain lived together. This living history museum is the only reconstructed Spanish mission in Florida, and was once home to over 1,400 residents.
At Mission San Luis, discover life as it truly was. Watch the blacksmith at work, sample traditional foods and explore the largest historic-period Indian building found in the Southeast. You’ll leave armed with more information about the time and with a better understanding of a soldier’s life at the fort. There really isn’t anything else like it nearby.
17. Sample fine dining and freshly-grown goods at Backwoods Crossing
Rated as Tallahassee’s number 1 restaurant, why not see what all the fuss is about? Backwoods Crossing truly is a fine dining experience, specializing in locally caught soft shell crabs, sausage, duck and blueberries. The menu changes on a weekly basis as owners the Rice brothers use local suppliers offering seasonal goods.
And not only do they source local produce but they grow their own, too. Their fully fledged 3.5 acre farmette supplies fresh veggies and fruits that all make their way straight to your plate. They also house 73 happy hens that produce over 18,000 eggs a year. Now you can’t get fresher than that!
18. Learn something new at the Museum of Florida History
Opened in 1977, the Museum of Florida History is free to enter and offers endless amounts of information about Florida’s rich past and heritage. From ancient artefacts to documents relating back to significant wars, there’s an entire period of history to uncover with a trip to the museum.
There are plenty of shops in the Main Gallery to browse through, too. Pick up a souvenir for a loved one back home, or treat yourself to a little something to remember your trip to Tallahassee by. You’ll also find books, art work, toys and games available to purchase. Don’t let the word ‘museum’ put you off – it’s a fun day out that’s consistently rated in the top 5 things to do in the city.
19. Watch new-season flowers blossom at Alfred B. Maclay Gardens State Park
Well known for being a “masterpiece of floral architecture”, these beautiful gardens are named after Alfred B. and Louise Maclay, who planted the first shrubs and flowers when they purchased the property in 1923. Today, the gardens are in bloom with camellias, over 60 varieties of azaleas and an abundance of smooth dogwoods. It really is a gardening enthusiast’s paradise.
As well as being able to take a self-guided tour through the gardens (which are mostly in bloom from winter to early spring), you can go fishing for largemouth bass, bream and bluegill, go for a run or stroll, and swim in the freshwater lake. Lake Hall is also the perfect spot for kayaking, paddle boating and sailing, so make the most of the tranquil waters.
20. Can you survive the zombie apocalypse in Tallahassee..?
For thrill-seekers and fans of the macabre, we’ve saved the best till last… Picture this: the dead just won’t die and they’re quickly turning into brain-eating zombies. It’s your mission, along with 10 other people, to try and survive. In your team, you’ll need to scavenge for survival supplies downtown. But the tricky bit? You only have 60 minutes to find as many items on the list as you can.
This clever interactive game from Zombie Scavengers requires you to download the “GooseChase” app on your smartphone. You’ll then be guided through the game, starting at the rendezvous point given to you by your guide, and heading on your hunt to find the items needed. It’s a great way to explore the Tallahassee while having some fun at the same time.