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20 Best Things to Do in Tallahassee for First Timers

St. Mark’s National Wildlife Refuge

People heading for a vacation in Florida often choose Orlando or Kissimmee as their destination, but you should not overlook the state’s capital Tallahassee when choosing where to visit. This diverse and interesting city has many interesting attractions and activities. Although there is something for everyone, it is particularly well known for its historic attractions. If you are visiting this city and wondering what you can do while you are there, here are the 20 best things to do in Tallahassee for first-timers.

Lofty Pursuits

20. Try Sweet-Making at Lofty Pursuits

One of the most unusual attractions in Tallahassee is Lofty Pursuits, which is a sweet store where visitors can get involved in the production process. According to Busy Tourist, this is a great day out for all the family as kids will love trying the sweets and having a go at making some candy for themselves.

Downtown Market

19. Stroll Around the Downtown Market

Although it is only open on Saturdays, a stroll around the downtown market is something you can enjoy if you are in Tallahassee over the weekend. It is one of the best places to see the locals going about their business and to try some of the best local produce. Pick up some treats for yourself or grab a bite to eat from one of the many food stalls. There is often live music in the form of street performers, which adds an element of entertainment to your stroll.

Railroad Square Art Park

18. View the Art at the Railroad Square Art Park

Once a lumber yard and then an industrial business park, Railroad Square Art Park is now a 10-acre site that is home to multiple art galleries, including studio space for the students of the Florida State University’s studio art program. Visitors can go to this studio and watch the artists at work. Other things to enjoy at the Railroad Square Art Park include shops, restaurants, live music, and food stalls.

Cascades Park

17. See a Performance at Cascades Park

Located in downtown Tallahassee, Cascades Park is a large city park that has an interactive fountain that is a play area for kids in the day, and synchronized water and lights show at night. There are also family play areas, multiple wildlife trails, and a Korean War memorial. One of the best features of the park is its amphitheater, and this hosts concerts and outdoor plays in the summer months.

Edward Ball Wakulla Springs State Park

16. Cool Down at Edward Ball Wakulla Springs State Park

There are several springs around the Tallahassee area, and one of the best to visit is the Edward Ball Wakulla Springs State Park as it is one of the deepest freshwater springs in the world. It is popular thanks to the two-story diving structure, and it is a great place to go for a cooling swim. Another reason for this park’s popularity is because scientists have found many artifacts on this site from ancient societies.

Tallahassee River Sinks

15. See the Natural Wonders of the Tallahassee River Sinks

The natural sinks in Florida are some of the most unique natural wonders that you can enjoy in this state. If you hike around the sinks, you can then take a dip, dive off the banks, and then enjoy a picnic in the shade of the trees. The Leon sinks and the Sister sinks are two of the best places to visit.

Chipola River

14. Take to the Water on Chipola River

Time Out recommends enjoying some water-based activities while you are in Tallahassee, and one of the best places to do this is along the Chipola River. There are plenty of activities you can enjoy, such as canoeing, tubing, and kayaking. There are instructors to teach you these activities if you are a novice.

Lake Talquin State Forest

13. Enjoy the Outdoors at Lake Talquin State Forest

If you want to make the most of the Floridian climate and spend as much of your vacation outdoors as possible. Then you should try to spend some time at Talquin State Forest. This state forest on Geddie Road covers 17,491-acres, and visitors have described the forest as magical. It consists of 10 tracts of land, and these predominantly lie along Lake Talquin and the Ochlockonee River. The focus of the park is on the balance of reforestation, habitat restoration, and outdoor recreation. There are multiple tree species within the forest, including oak, maple, and hickory. It is also home to wildlife including turkey, deer, and bobcats. Some of the activities you can enjoy at the park include hiking, bicycling, horseback riding, picnicking, and camping.

Lake Jackson Mounds Archaeological State Park

12. Explore Lake Jackson Mounds Archaeological State Park

For outdoor lovers who want to explore the natural beauty of the area, a wonderful choice of activity is a day at Lake Jackson Mounds Archaeological State Park. This is an attraction that will also appeal to history fans. This park is located in northern Tallahassee on the southern banks of Lake Jackson. It is an important archaeological site as it is where the Fort Walton Culture lived between 1050 and 1500 AD. Although there are four mounds, only two of these are open to the public. There are two hiking trails that take walkers past a 1800s gristmill and a plantation. The hikes also allow you to enjoy the landscape of native plants and trees. The park is listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places.

Knott House Museum

11. Go to Knott House Museum

A fascinating attraction to include in your itinerary is a visit to the Knott House Museum. This property was built in 1834 by George Proctor, and it is located on East Park Avenue. At one time, the house served as the Union headquarters. The property is also famous because Abraham Lincoln read the Emancipation Proclamation from the front steps of the property. It was then the home of William Knott and his family, hence its name. It now belongs to the Historic Tallahassee Preservation Board and has been open to the public since 1992. It has been restored to show visitors how people lived in 1928. You can take a guided tour of this property between Wednesday and Saturday.

St. Mark’s Historic Railroad State Trail

10. Walk the St. Mark’s Historic Railroad State Trail

While you are in Tallahassee, you should get out and about to explore the area, see the natural beauty, and take advantage of the wonderful Floridian climate. This follows the route of the abandoned railway and takes you 16 miles from Tallahassee to St. Mark’s. As the trail is paved, you can walk, cycle, or even skate along the trail. There are multiple landmarks for you to see along the way, and the surrounding scenery is spectacular. Therefore, you should take along a camera to capture the sights. From this trail, there is also the option to hike up the Munson Hills Trail. If you have children with you, they can have some fun at the Felburn Foundation Boundless Playground. After such a long walk, it is likely that you will have built up an appetite, so the restaurants at the end of the trail will be a welcome sight.

Lake Ella and Fred Drake Park

9. Have Some Free Fun at Lake Ella and Fred Drake Park

If you are visiting Tallahassee on a budget and you want some free activities to enjoy during your stay, then one attraction to add to your itinerary is Lake Ella and Fred Drake Park. Entry to the park and the lake are free, and there are multiple activities you can enjoy at this location. Located just north of downtown Tallahassee, this attraction consists of the 6.5-acre Fred Drake Park and the 12-acre Lake Ella. In the park, there are fountains, picnic areas, and paved walking trails. You can enjoy a variety of activities throughout the year.

Goodwood Museum and Gardens

8. Enjoy Goodwood Museum and Gardens

Those who are interested in history should take a trip to the Good wood Museum and Gardens. The museum is a 1830s plantation house that sits in 16 acres of landscaped lawns and gardens. The house is considered one of the best examples of antebellum architecture in the state. Inside the house, visitors can see the original furniture, art, porcelain, textiles, and glass. You can also admire the original internal architectural details. After taking a tour of the house, you can explore the stunning grounds of the property.

Mission San Luis de Apalachee

7. Go to the Mission San Luis de Apalachee

One of the many historic landmarks in Tallahassee is the Mission San Luis de Apalachee. The Spanish Franciscan mission was built in 1633. Although many of the original buildings were destroyed, some were rebuilt. The structures that remain include the convent, a church, a blockhouse, and a fort. The site is a designated U.S. National Landmark.

Florida Historic State Capitol

6. Visit Florida Historic State Capitol

If you want to learn more about the history of Tallahassee or Florida, then one of the top attractions to visit is the Florida State Capitol. The historic Capital Building was built in 1845 and restored between 1978 and 1982. The collection inside this building includes interactive exhibits, political artifacts, and a huge collection of photographs. Visitors can take a tour of many parts of the building, including the Supreme Court, the House of Representatives, and the Governor’s office.

Tallahassee Antique Car Museum

5. See the Exhibitions Tallahassee Antique Car Museum

Regardless of whether you are interested in cars or not, the Tallahassee Antique Car Museum is still an interesting attraction to visit. This automobile-themed attraction has been open since 1966, and much of the collection is items that have been donated. It covers 100,000-square-feet of exhibits, including more than 140 automobiles. Some of the most interesting on display are the three Batmobiles and the funeral hearse of Abraham Lincoln. There are also some other interesting artifacts on display, such a collection of knives.

Challenger Learning Center

4. Have an Educational Experience at the Challenger Learning Center

A 32 thousand square-foot center, the Challenger Learning Center is an outreach program of the Florida State University College of Engineering. The focus is on promoting interest in science, technology, engineering, and maths subjects. Within the center, there are multiple fun and educational interactive exhibits. Some of the highlights include the Space Mission Simulator, the Downtown Digital Dome Theater & Planetarium, and the IMAX 3D Theater. You will find this attraction on South Duval Street.

Alfred B. Maclay Gardens State Park

3. Explore Alfred B. Maclay Gardens State Park

You will find this attraction on Thomasville Road, and it covers 1,176 acres. Within the gardens, there are 18 historic buildings along with a further four interesting buildings. The park was established in 1823, and it is famous for the diversity of its trees and for its camellias and azaleas. The park also provides the perfect landscape to enjoy hiking, biking, canoeing, fishing, picnics, and bird watching.

St. Mark’s National Wildlife Refuge

2. Go to St. Mark’s National Wildlife Refuge

This is one of the oldest wildlife refuges in the United States, as it was established in 1931. It covers 68 thousand acres of various coastal environments, such as tidal creeks, marshes, islands, and estuaries. Within the refuge, there are several interesting structures. The most famous of these is St. Mark’s Lighthouse. Many migratory birds make this refuge their home during the winter months, and there is plenty of other wildlife to see all year round.

Tallahassee Museum of History and Natural Science

1. Visit the Tallahassee Museum of History and Natural Science

According to Vacation Idea, the best thing to do in Tallahassee for first-timers is to visit the Tallahassee Museum of History and Natural Science. There are several historic buildings, a natural habitat zoo, and an environmental center. The aim of the museum is to teach visitors about the cultural and natural history of the Beg Bend. One of the most popular exhibits in the museum is the Big Bend Farm, which teaches about rural life in Florida. Another popular element of this attraction is Wildlife Florida, which gives visitors the chance to see animals such as red wolves, panthers, deer, bobcats, and bears.

Liz Flynn

Written by Liz Flynn

Liz Flynn has worked as a full-time writer since 2010 after leaving a career in education. She finds almost all topics she writes about interesting, but her favorite subjects are travel and food. Liz loves the process of researching information, learning new things, and putting into words what others who share her interests might like to read. Although she spends most of her time writing, she also enjoys spending time with her husband and four children, watching films, cooking, dining out, reading, motorsports, gaming, and walking along the beach next to her house with her dog.

Read more posts by Liz Flynn

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