Tallahassee may not be the first city that comes to mind when you think of Florida, especially when you planning a vacation to the beautiful Emerald Coast known for its pristine white sand beaches and blue-green waters of the Gulf.
But then, Tallahassee isn’t the state capital for nothing.
Tallahassee is home to a number of prestigious colleges and universities, museums, gorgeous lakes, parks, an arts and culture scene, and a mouthwatering southern seafood culinary tradition which definitely makes it worth a visit!
So, if you are planning a vacation to the Emerald Coast, don’t write off Tallahassee- it might just surprise you.
Read on as we’ll explore reasons why Tallahassee is worth visiting.
Is Tallahassee Worth Visiting?
The Tallahassee Museum is the most iconic landmark and popular attraction in the city and once you step into this fascinating museum you’ll soon know why.
The museum is home to a number of exhibits that tell the history of the Sunshine State from its Native American era to the Civil Era followed by modern history.
There are several exhibits on the early days of Florida settlement, the Civil Wars, and also the Seminole Wars.
If you are a nature enthusiast you’ll be glad to know that the museum is also home to a beautiful nature trail and park where you can spot and learn about the local wildlife and a butterfly garden where you can see some of Florida’s beautiful insects up close.
The museum hosts a number of concerts, educational programs, and family-friendly events throughout the year, so no matter when you visit, there’s always something fun to do and learn at the Tallahassee Museum.
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Florida Historic Capitol Museum
Located in the heart of downtown Tallahassee, the Florida Historic Capitol Museum is another main attraction in the city known for its amazing historical exhibits and amazing architecture.
The museum is housed in the historic Capitol building, which served as the state capitol from 1845 to 1869.
The museum features a variety of exhibits that chronicle Florida’s history from its early days as a Spanish colony to its present-day status as a leading tourist destination and the cultural influence each era had in shaping Florida into what it is today.
Apart from being home to hundreds of exhibits that represent Florida’s rich history and culture, the museum also features a library and research center, making it an ideal place for those who want to learn more about Florida’s past in detail.
And the great thing about visiting the museum is that it’s free and open to the public seven days a week. If you feel tired after exploring all the exhibits, then head straight to the cafe where you can refresh yourself with a cappuccino or buy yourself a souvenir at the gift shop.
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Alfred B. Maclay Gardens State Park
Tallahassee might not boast of the pristine white sand beaches that are the main attraction in Florida or the blue-green waters of the Gulf especially native to the Emerald Coast, but Tallahassee is no less of a wonder in itself when it comes to offering natural getaways.
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Tallahassee is home to some of the most beautiful lakes and nature parks in the Sunshine State, and the Alfred B. Maclay Gardens State Park is one of the best-hidden gems and an example of it.
This massive park encompasses over a thousand acres of total area with gardens, lakes, and hiking trails.
Out of the hundreds of acres mesmerizing of gardens, the Rose Gardens, an Azalea Garden, and a Butterfly Garden especially stand out with their sheer beauty and bird species.
Take a leisurely stroll through the wetlands or go for a paddle on Lake Hall.
The Alfred B. Maclay house, the person whose name the park carries is located in the heart of the park and gives a glimpse into Florida’s rich history.
The house was built in 1923 by Alfred B. Maclay, an entrepreneur, and philanthropist from Pennsylvania and is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places as an important landmark of Florida’s history.
Mission San Luis
Your visit to Tallahassee would be incomplete without visiting Mission San Luis.
Not only is it the oldest surviving Spanish mission in Florida but it’s also a great place to learn about the influence of Spanish culture on Florida for history buffs.
The mission was built in 1656 as a way to convert the local Native Americans to Christianity and it was the largest and most successful of the Spanish missions in Florida.
The mission was of great importance to the Seminole people as a cultural and political center and its nearby village is home to some of the most well-preserved native dwellings in the state.
This significant piece of Spanish architecture is open to the public with various exhibits and educational programs that are conducted throughout the year.
Take a stroll of the grounds and observe the beautiful Spanish-colonial architecture of the church, monastery, and cemetery.
If you are not much of a history buff, then the Mission’s perfect location along the beautiful banks of the Apalachicola River, makes it an ideal place for enjoying scenic hikes and picnics.
Edward Ball Wakulla Springs State Park
Tallahassee might lack the pristine beaches that we are accustomed to seeing in Florida. That said, it’s not just the beaches that the Sunshine State is known for.
Florida is home to more than 700 natural springs, the largest anywhere on earth, and the Edward Ball Wakulla Springs State Park is home to one such natural spring.
The Wakulla Springs is one of the deepest natural springs in the world and its sapphire water are home to manatees, alligators, and a host of the diverse wildlife that you can spot from a riverboat or a raised platform.
The park is also home to other natural attractions including a forest trail, biking trails, and several hiking trails.
The water is crystal clear with perfect temperature year-round are sure to refresh you even on the hottest of Florida summers.
So, whether you’re looking to reinvigorate yourself by taking a dip into the healing waters of the spring or simply take in the surrounding beauty, the Edward Ball Wakulla Springs State Park definitely makes for a great visit!
Goodwood Museum and Gardens
Goodwood Museum and Gardens should be visited for a variety of reasons. One is that the gardens are incredibly stunning, featuring luscious vegetation, vibrant flowers, and tranquil ponds.
Built in the 1830s, the 16 historic structures still stand tall thanks to the extensive remodeling done in 1910, giving Goodwood its current turn-of-the-century appearance.
The museum is also fascinating because it has a wide variety of objects that illustrate the history of the estate. But the best reason to go to Goodwood might just be to sample some genuine southern hospitality.
The staff is wonderfully kind and accommodating, and they go above and beyond to inform guests about the location and its rich history.
St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge
Last but not least is one of Florida’s best-kept secrets, the St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge, one of the oldest wildlife refuges in the USA and hands down a must-visit attraction before leaving Tallahassee.
The Refuge is spread over a massive 60,000 acres of area and consists of diverse coastal environments including estuaries, islands, marshes, and tidal creeks.
The Refuge’s rich flora and fauna are home to a variety of wildlife including alligators, turtles, deer, and manatees.
Apart from the wildlife the Refuge also boasts several bird species and is a nesting place for migratory birds during winter.
The Refuge is also home to the iconic St. Marks lighthouse, one of the oldest surviving lighthouses in Florida which survived both, the Civil War and the Seminole War.
The lighthouse is a great place for kids and adults alike to learn about its work and its significance throughout Florida’s rich history.
After you’re done exploring the lighthouse head straight to the nearby beach where you enjoy swimming, shelling, sunbath, or taking a hike on the gorgeous nature trail nearby.