Taking on Tallahassee: The Highlights of Florida’s Capital City

Tally-Ho! Here’s What You Don’t Want to Miss When Visiting Tallahassee

Hero image courtesy of @iamgeejay on Instagram

Capital of the Sunshine State, the city of Tallahassee is a versatile blend of history, culture, and natural beauty. With its rich heritage, bustling arts scene, and a topography that’s ideal for a whole slew of outdoor activities, Tallahassee has everything that you could want from a travel destination. Keep reading to find out what you don’t want to miss in Tally! 

Tallahassee’s Great Outdoors


St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge

The Nation’s Oldest Wildlife Preserve 

1255 Lighthouse Road | Saint Marks | www.fws.gov
From alligators and bald eagles to woodpeckers and osprey, there’s no telling what kind of animals you’ll encounter when you spend a day at St. Marks Wildlife Refuge. Image courtesy of @wesgibsonphoto on Instagram

Just a short drive from the city, St. Marks Wildlife Refuge makes for the perfect day trip when you’re in Tallahassee. With 68,000 acres to explore, St. Marks is home to all sorts of terrain—including both freshwater and saltwater marshes—and with them, an array of wildlife. 

Whether you rent a car in Tallahassee or drive your own, this magical natural paradise is well worth the trip, which is only around 25 miles from the city. Walk along the beaches by the historic St. Marks Lighthouse (built in 1842), tour some of Florida’s iconic wetlands, and gasp aloud at each new animal that you come across when you visit St. Marks Wildlife Refuge. 

“St Marks is breathtaking, and it stays that way no matter the time of year. And yes, it's a wildlife refuge, so there's tons of wildlife . . . Bring a picnic, bring family, bring visitors: St Marks is truly unique and beautiful.” -Marcy H. on Yelp

Cascades Park

Vibrant Green Space in the Heart of Downtown Tallahassee 

                                                                  1001 S. Gadsden Street | Downtown | www.talgov.com
Cascades Park is more than just an extravagant city project—it’s primary use is actually as a stormwater management system. Image courtesy of Genesis Group

Situated just south of the State Capitol, Cascades Park is a lively social hub in Downtown Tallahassee. From outdoor concerts at the park’s amphitheater to the children’s laughter radiating from Imagination Fountain and the Discovery play area, Cascades Park is brimming with ways to enjoy the city. 

Soak up some Florida sun as you walk, run, or bike through the park’s trails, or find a comfy seat in the grass and lounge around with a good book. With 24 acres of open space and fresh air, Cascades Park has endless possibilities (and even more photo ops!). 

“I would consider Cascades Park is one of the top parks here in Tallahassee. There is something for everyone: space for dogs to run, children's playground & dancing fountain, beautiful sightings, green land for picnics, running/biking trails . . . Definitely should be on everyone's to-do list.” -Elianne C. on Yelp


Leon Sinks Geological Area

See Underwater Caves and Sinkholes 

2564 Wildflower Road | Campbell Park | www.fs.usda.gov
Part of the Woodville Karst Plain, Leon Sinks connects to Wakulla Springs and is among the most extensive collection of underwater caves in the world. Image courtesy @k_b_harrington on Instagram

See nature like you’ve never seen it before (well, probably, at least) when you journey a few miles south of Tallahassee to Leon Sinks Geological Area. Explore wet and dry sinkholes when you hike through this unique section of the Upper Florida Aquifer. 

There are three hiking trails that you can use to traverse Leon Sinks and find the park’s different sinkholes. Along the way, you’ll find more than 20 species of trees, countless kinds of plants, and maybe even some of the creatures that inhabit the area. 

“So far, my favorite trail around the Tallahassee area . . . There was a great variety in terms of scenery. Sometimes, you're enclosed within the trees, and at other points, it's sandy with a lot of sun exposure . . . I will definitely be back to see this!” -Vanessa G. on Yelp

Where to Eat in Tallahassee

Backwoods Crossing 

Local Ingredients & Weekly Live Music 

6725 Mahan Drive | Betton Hills | www.backwoodscrossing.com

This farm-to-table eatery is owned by two brothers who pride themselves in using locally-sourced ingredients—including ones from their own backyard! Image courtesy @cdetsey on Instagram

Backwoods Crossing is more than just a restaurant—it also includes a four-acre farm, complete with chickens, quails, rabbits, and bees. With New American cuisine that’s packed with Southern flavor, it’s not hard to see why this down-to-earth is the talk of the town. 

Image courtesy of @youdiscoverflorida on Instagram

Image courtesy of @ryan.rashard on Instagram

Image courtesy of @thehungryferret on Instagram

The main menu at Backwoods Crossing features classic soul food like barbeque pulled pork, catfish filet, crab cakes, bread pudding, and key lime pie. You can also find brunch, cocktails, beer, and wine—plus live music every Thursday. 

“This is an incredible restaurant experience. The ingredients are fresh, local, and of high quality . . . the flavor is memorable and will force you to make this a regular stopping point for lunch or dinner on a weekly basis. Don't miss this experience!” -Joe L. on Yelp


Kool Beanz Cafe

Colorful Cafe with an Inventive Menu

921 Thomasville Road | Lafayette Park | www.koolbeanz-cafe.com

This no-frills cafe was voted one of the top spots in Tallahassee for casual dining and among the best local restaurants in the area. Image courtesy of @sbrangaccio on Instagram

Kool Beanz Cafe does it all—lunch, dinner, dessert, drinks, and even brunch on Sundays. With a laid-back atmosphere and creative menu, Kool Beanz Cafe is a fun place to grab a casual meal and try something new. 

Image courtesy of @koolbeanzcafe on Instagram

Image courtesy of @koolbeanzcafe on Instagram

Image courtesy of @koolbeanzcafe on Instagram

On the menu, which changes daily, you can find dishes like Cuban-spiced pork chops, cornmeal-fried shrimp, grilled octopus, pecan-floured trout, and much, much more. And while you eat, be sure to take in the eclectic decor. The name doesn’t lie—this cafe really is cool! 

“With a consistently exciting menu, Kool Beanz is one of my favorite places to go for brunch, lunch, or dinner. Most of their lunches and dinners are structured so that each plate has a variety of flavors and textures between the main course and side pairings . . . Fun atmosphere featuring local artwork.” -Kelly K. on Yelp.  

Bella Bella 

Mama Mia! This Is Italian Food Done Right

                                                                 123 E. 5th Avenue | Lakeview | www.thebellabella.com
Looking for a place to carb up? This trendy Italian joint is family-owned and è delizioso! Image courtesy of @kaileyss_ on Instagram

Florida is known for many things—but Italian food isn’t exactly one of them. Nonetheless, Bella Bella has been serving up authentic, freshly-made Italian fare to the Tallahassee area for over 14 years. The menu includes lunch, dinner, and dessert—plus, of course, some state-of-the-art vino. 

Image courtesy of @tallyfoodblogger on Instagram

Image courtesy of @streetfoodwriter on Instagram

Image courtesy of @munchomoore on Instagram

Make sure you start your meal right by ordering Bella Bella’s famed “Bubble Bread” appetizer—it’s garlic bread decked out in gorgonzola and mozzarella cheese! If you’re looking to round out your meal with some drinks, the bar is stocked with craft beer and cocktails, housemade sangria, sparkling wine, and spirits. 

“AMAZING. Everything was so good from the appetizers to the actual meal itself! We ordered the bubble bread, which I HIGHLY recommend; it was everything. The service was great, and the atmosphere was comforting and inviting. Highly recommend!” -William F. on Yelp.   

Top Tallahassee Museums


Goodwood Museum & Gardens

Tour This Grandiose Estate That Was Built in the 1830s

                                                                  1600 Miccosukee Road | Capital Hills | www.goodwoodmuseum.org 
This scenic estate frequently serves as a wedding venue and can be found in the backdrop of many happy couples’ engagement photos. Image courtesy of StyleBlueprint

An elegant landmark that dates back more than 180 years, the Goodwood Estate—now Goodwood Museum & Gardens—offers visitors a firsthand look at Tallahassee history. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, Goodwood provides an enlightening journey through time, demonstrating the extravagance in which Southern plantation owners once lived. 

Walk among oak trees that are over 100 years old, explore breathtaking gardens, and tour the property’s main house that still has most of its original furnishings intact—all while taking dozens of photos along the way! 

“We were looking for a morning diversion and the hotel desk clerk suggested visiting this plantation. It was a great look at how people lived in years before. There are beautiful artifacts and the architecture was just so amazing . . .  We were very happy that we took the time to visit.” -Karen S. on Yelp

Mission San Luis 

Living Museum Featuring Apalachee and Spanish-Colonial History 

2100 West Tennessee Street | San Luis | www.missionsanluis.org
Mission San Luis became a National Historic Landmark in 1960. It is the only restored mission in Florida. Image courtesy of @_blueyedaddy_  Instagram.

Before Spanish colonizers claimed La Florida for themselves, the Apalachee tribe was one of the native peoples that lived on the land. Mission San Luis was built in 1633 by Spanish Franciscans who sought to convert the Apalachees to Christianity (in addition to taking their land). 

An open-air, living history museum, Mission San Luis recreates life in 1703 when the Apalachee Indians and Spanish colonizers lived together. During your visit, you can tour the site’s Franciscan church, Hispanic village, Council House, Friary Complex, and the Castillo de San Luis, a blockhouse that once housed around 50 Spanish soldiers. 

“The Mission is PHENOMENAL. The place is really done well. The accuracy is amazing. The rebuilt area is dead-on and wonderfully done . . . On the grounds, they have period tour guides showing you what went on in that location. They also gave historical information about the Apalachee and Spanish.” -Justin M. on Yelp

Tallahassee Museum

Outdoor Museum Uniting History and Nature

3945 Museum Road | Lake Bradford | www.allahasseemuseum.org
No need to worry about stuffy exhibits at this museum! Rather than glass-cased displays, the Tallahassee Museum has live animals, nature trails, and even ziplining. Image courtesy of @alabamaorama on Instagram

Despite its name, the Tallahassee Museum is more of an outdoor education center than a full-fledged museum. Created by a group of teachers and civic leaders, the Tallahassee Museum aims to educate visitors through interactive, fun exhibits—many of which contain living, breathing animals! 

Learn about Florida’s natural history as you walk along nature trails, elevated boardwalks, and animal displays. In addition to permanent exhibits, the museum also has temporary exhibits throughout the year—including special guest animals. 

“The Tallahassee Museum is a must-see when in Tallahassee. They have an animal exhibit featuring rescued animals native to Florida (make sure you visit the otters!) with educational information about them. Elevated walkways provide good views of the animals along with a nice stroll through natural Florida swamplands.” -Cory H. on Yelp

See All of This and More When You Visit Tallahassee

Coastal Florida gets most of the hype when it comes to tourism in the Sunshine State—but that doesn’t mean that you should skip out on the Panhandle! Tallahassee is every bit as scenic as Florida’s beaches (albeit in a different way), and with such a long list of cool things to see and do, you’re sure to have an amazing time. In fact, one trip might not even be enough: You’re bound to leave wanting to come back!

Albion Skeldon

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