Last Updated on July 11, 2023
Tallahassee was established as the capital of Florida in 1824 because it sits at the top of the state’s panhandle region, halfway between Pensacola and St. Augustine. Back in 1824, the southern portion of Florida was a 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. Numerous murals all over town add to the local culture.
Railroad Square Art District
The district is 10 acres that transformed from industrial warehouses to a creative haven of vintage goods, whimsical art, weird theater, and more. It’s especially popular for the first Friday monthly gallery hop, Tallahassee’s longest-running music festival, shopping, viewing, and fun.
Railroad Square Art District is centrally located at 618 McDonnell Drive, between FSU, FAMU, and downtown. For more info: https://www.railroadsquare.com/
Mission San Luis
Apalachee Native Americans 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.
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.
Red Hills International Horse Trials and Trade Fair
The fair is located at Elinor Klapp-Phipps Park 4000 N Meridian Road, Tallahassee. This spectacular equestrian competition occurs yearly on the second weekend in March. Dressage and jumping are highlights enjoyed by thousands of spectators.
Florida State University
FSU 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, two museums, a magnetic laboratory, and a bowling alley.
The school is best known for its football team. The Seminoles have won three college football national championships (1993, 1999 and 2014) and have had three Heisman Trophy winners: Charlie Ward, Chris Weinke and Jameis Winston. The mascot, Chief Osceola, so named for the former Seminole tribe of Florida military leader, rides his horse Renegade, in one of the sport’s most riveting traditions.
Famous former students include Stephanie Abrams, Faye Dunaway, Paul Gleason, Jim Morrison, Burt Reynolds, and Deion Sanders.
Florida A&M University
FAMU is a prestigious, public, and historically black university nestled among giant oak trees on 422 acres. It is known for diversity, research, and innovation. Notable figures who attended were Althea Gibson, Rob Hardy, “Bullet” Bob Hayes, Pam Oliver, Will Packer, the rapper Common, and the singer T-Pain.
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. Unique items on the grounds include obelisks, a replica of the Liberty Bell, and the Stormsong dolphin sculpture.
This is the hub of relaxation and entertainment in downtown Tallahassee. It has a beautiful green space with benches and fountains. There are also shops, restaurants, theaters, luxury condos, and an underground parking garage at Kleman Plaza. Musicians perform here frequently.
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. For more info: https://www.talgov.com/parks/parks-cascades.aspx
Tallahassee residents invite visitors to come celebrate everything. Festival themes cover art, music, hemp, short films, and balloons. Others celebrate being Greek, or Jewish, or African. Perhaps the best known and most popular is Springtime Tallahassee, which began in 1968 and grows larger each year. It includes musical events and a parade that highlights Krewes dressed in costumes representing the five historical time periods of Florida’s past.
My favorite locally-owned Tallahassee restaurants are:
Andrews Downtown. Address: 228 S. Adams St. Try the traditional Cubano sandwich.
Bradley’s Country Store. Address: 10655 Centerville Rd. I love the smoked sausage!
Coosh’s Bayou Rouge. Address: 6267 Old Water Rd. An authentic muffuletta that will make you think you’re in New Orleans.
Crum Box Gastgarden. Address 602 Industrial Dr. Try the punk and gut (sausage and bread).
Dog Et Al. Location 1456 S Monroe St. Locals dig the corndog with homemade chips.
Railroad Square Craft House. Address 644 McDonnell Dr. The best sweet potato fries.
Super Perros. Address: 2010 W Tennessee St. Try the empanadas Argentina.
Close your eyes and 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.
Haunted Oakland Mausoleum
An odd loner with a long beard and an obsession with time built his own bizarre cherry-wood casket and mausoleum. At the entrance, he carved only his last name, Phillips. There he died and was entombed in 1919. The end? No!
Many say the ghost of the supposedly deranged man makes noises and appearances even now, while others claim he was a vampire. In April 2000, the site was vandalized, but the only thing taken was his skull. You can see the unusual mausoleum in Oakland Cemetery, near the intersection of Bronough and Brevard streets. But don’t go near it on Halloween!
This section of Florida has great 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.
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. The friendly locals are always happy to suggest the best places to dine and fun things to do.