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With its rolling hills, oak-canopied streets, and picturesque plantation homes, the city of Tallahassee breaks the mold of what most people think about Florida—less South Beach and much more Southern charm. As home to 2 world-class universities and, of course, the Florida Legislature, the capital city comes together in a mix of metropolitan flair, youthful ambience, and down-home hospitality. With its museums, monuments, art galleries, architecture, and spectacular natural landscape, Tallahassee has much more to offer than may first meet the eye.
Broken up into 6 of its own distinct districts, Downtown Tallahassee is the cultural, economic, and political hub of the city, booming with restaurants, hotels, entertainment, and history. Explore the area in search of antique sights, learn about the local political climate, or tantalize your taste buds at any number of unique eateries.
Home to many of Tallahassee’s young and trendy residents, All Saints is the hippest and most eclectic district in the city. The neighborhood boasts a selection of restaurants from Southern sandwich shops to upscale bistros, as well as cafes, cocktail bars, and breweries. Railroad Square is a haven for art and culture, buzzing with more than 50 galleries, studios, and shops.
Lying in the heart of the city, Capitol Hill is where you’ll find the Florida State Capitol, the Historic Capitol Museum, and the Florida Supreme Court. Along Adams Street are many of the oldest and most popular hangouts that cater to the movers and shakers of the state’s political world. On Saturdays between March and November, legislators get replaced with locals shopping for produce and handicrafts at the outdoor Downtown Market.
This newly renovated 24-acre (9.7 ha) park features miles of multi-use trails, a state-of-the-art amphitheater, and immaculately manicured green spaces and ponds. Throughout the year, the park hosts local sporting events, festivals, and concerts for up to 3,000 people.
This area between Capitol Hill and Florida State University is where local businesses and legislature meet the minds of tomorrow. Though the area is mostly made up of apartments, sororities, and fraternities, legend has it that the ghosts of the Old City Cemetery are known to wander the streets.
Just south of FSU is College Town, a former industrial area that’s recently been revitalized with condos, restaurants, and retail. The neighborhood is never more alive than on game days when current students and alumni descend upon the bustling district.
Uncover the history of Tallahassee in Governor’s Walk, a district filled with the preserved homes of many of the city’s founding families as well as the Greek Revival Governor’s Mansion. Renowned Calhoun Street—dubbed “Gold Dust Street” in the 1800s because of the affluent politicians and families who lived here—boasts 16 historic buildings dating as far back as 1840.
Scope out the striking sights of Florida’s capital city aboard Wilma, a speedy electric cart that takes you through Capitol Hill, up into College Park, and into the charming tree-lined streets of Governor’s Walk. You can even take your sightseeing to new heights with a private helicopter ride over Downtown, above the forested cities south of Tallahassee, or along the coastline at sunset.
For art aficionados, there’s plenty of historic and quirky artwork that enhances the natural beauty of the city. On the Downtown Public Art Walk, see more than 30 distinct pieces including sculptures, murals, and memorials, or head to All Saints on the first Friday of the month for the First Friday Gallery Hop.
Dive into the capital city’s political landscape at the Historic Capitol Museum, where artifacts and interactive exhibits are housed within the restored former Capitol Building. Under the stained-glass dome, the history of the city comes alive through photos, recordings, and audiovisual displays as you learn about the people and events that shaped the Florida of today.
For a look even further back into Tallahassee’s past, pay a visit to the Museum of Florida History. Through nearly 30,000 square feet (2,787 sq m) of permanent exhibits, travel back in time to the Spanish colonial period, through the Civil War, and into World War II. The museum also owns the historic Knott House, where you can see furniture and other 19th-century belongings once owned by a former State Treasurer.
If nature is what you’re after, the topography of Tallahassee offers countless ways to embrace the outdoors. Embark on a hike through the towering pine trees of Leon Sinks, a geological area brimming with limestone caverns, cypress-filled ponds, and sinkholes sparkling with turquoise water. The region is also home to a plethora of wildlife just waiting to be discovered. At the natural-habitat Tallahassee Museum, you can get close to North Florida’s native creatures including otters, turtles, bears, deer, and the rare Florida panther. And of course, there are alligators to be seen, too! There’s no need to travel to the Everglades when the St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge offers prime viewing of the prehistoric reptiles.