Courtesy of Urban Tallahassee
Hard to spell. Easy to love.
The capitol city of Florida, Tallahassee occupies a charming stretch along the state's signature panhandle. Home to two universities and boasting a year-round preoccupation with college sports, it's safe to bet this town knows how to host a true football fan.
Where to stay
Centrally located with easy access to Florida State University and local attractions, the Four Points by Sheraton is a relatively new hotel. As an added advantage, you don't have to pay to park in its lot. The Hotel Aloft in downtown Tallahassee is a favorite for out-of-towners looking for boutique perks and amenities even in the midst of college football madness.
Where to eat/drink
In a city of students, you will find your fair share of fast food and chain restaurants. For a dose of local flavor, venture beyond these options. Entice all 10,000 taste buds with the flavors of pulled pork in sweet sauce and traditional Southern fixins' at Piggy's BBQ. A mile from the stadium, AJ Sports Bar and Grill is your quintessential close-to-campus pub, featuring daily drink deals and fried food goodness you would expect at a local watering hole. Coosh's Bayou Rouge is the culinary brainchild of two Louisiana transplants who serve up authentic Cajun dishes like jambalaya and red beans and rice. If you have the time and are looking for a great story, let the Bradfordville Blues Club lure you to its out-of-the-way location just outside of Tallahassee. Follow meandering dirt roads lined with tiki torches into stands of corn fields and mossy oak trees where you'll eventually find the "juke joint under the stars" and some of the best blues music around.
Game day tips
Prepare for mayhem when it comes to parking here in college football central. Note that if you're planning to park and ride, stadium traffic uses Pensacola Street and shuttle services run two hours before kickoff and then one hour after the game. Pickup and drop off are at Leon County Civic Center. If you're planning specific tailgating festivities, abide by the rules and restrictions imposed by Florida State University.
What to do
In 2013, Florida will check off 500 years since Spanish explorer Ponce de Leon first arrived on its shores. This is a place that history has never left, and it practically oozes from the façade of local historic buildings, layering the old with the new. It is especially marked in the juxtaposition of the historic and modern-day capitol buildings, the former available to tour as a museum and the latter rising 25 stories behind and above it in an imposing neoclassical style added in the '70s. You might take the time to browse through a government lesson at the Florida Legislative Research Center & Museum in the Historic Capitol or opt for a walk around the buildings and grounds for a truly interesting photographic experience. The Florida Governor's Mansion's architectural style is Greek Revival, and while the public tour season doesn't start back up until January, you can schedule a 30-minute tour by appointment year-round. Contact the museum curator to arrange a tour of the residence, where the current governor and his family actually live.
Florida is a state ripe with plenty of outdoor opportunities to occupy your weekend. Plan an escape to nearby Apalachicola National Forest (Florida's largest) to take advantage of the walking trails or plan a hike through St. Mark's Wildlife Refuge, a wilderness traversed by rivers and woodland areas, to view the historic and still-operating St. Mark's Lighthouse up close.
You may want to reserve part of a day to drive along the Big Bend Scenic Highway, voted one of the best scenic drives in the United States. A 48-mile stretch along U.S. 98, this route takes you on a meandering pace through pine forests and along the Gulf of Mexico.