Tallahassee, Florida is home to two major universities, Florida State University and Florida A&M. But unlike other college towns like Athens or Oxford, Tallahassee is the state capital and has a large percentage of full-time residents. Even if you’re not visiting the campuses or catching a football game, there’s plenty to see and do.
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Things to Do in Tallahassee
No matter what time of year you visit, you’re sure to find plenty to entertain you beyond football. There are events nearly every month including Springtime Tallahassee Festival, Word of South Festival, and Pridefest.
Bike trails– Nicknamed “Trailahassee,” the city has over 700 miles of trails including a paved path that runs all the way to the coast and the Munson Hills Mountain Bike Trail.
Challenger Learning Center– Named for the space shuttle that tragically exploded, this science center is a popular field trip stop for school groups for its interactive exhibits, planetarium, space simulator, and IMAX theater.
Museum of Florida History– This extensive museum covers Florida’s history over 300 years starting with the Native Americans and Spanish explorers and continuing to the present. It also includes the Knott House, which dates back to 1843.
Kayaking- Rent a kayak or paddleboard to explore the many waterways near Tallahassee, including the Wacissa River, Lake Lafayette, and Lake Piney Z.
Maclay Gardens State Park– The property was originally built in 1923 as the winter home of Alfred B. and Louise Maclay. The sprawling acreage is now open to the public with picnic pavilions, a lake open to boating and swimming, and nature trails. It’s also popular with weddings.
Mission San Luis– This archaeological site interprets what life was like for the Apalachee Indians before European contact, during Spanish Florida, and beyond. There are replicas of structures that would have been at the mission.
Shopping- Tallahassee has some fun shops selling all of the goodies you need, including home goods at Hearth & Soul, records at Retrofit Records, books at Midtown Reader, and vintage clothing at The Other Side Vintage.
Tallahassee Automobile Museum– Open since 1996, you don’t have to be a gearhead to appreciate this museum. The collection includes rare cars (including Batmobiles!) along with sports memorabilia, boats, dolls, and knives.
Tallahassee Museum– The city’s museum is set on 52 acres and is equal parts zoo and park with trails, a zipline, an aerial adventure course, and Florida plant and animal life. There are also historic buildings from the early settlement of the city.
Where to Eat in Tallahassee
Restaurants close to campus will be crowded, so get further out to enjoy the best local eateries in Tallahassee.
Bagel Bagel– Not far from the FSU campus is this laid-back bagel joint. You can get all the varieties with cream cheese or in a sandwich with egg or deli meat. They also serve coffee from Lucky Goat, a local roaster.
Grove Market and Cafe– Start your day at this restaurant, which offers omelets, breakfast sandwiches, pancakes, and toasts, along with fair trade coffee, wine, and beer.
Jeri’s Midtown Cafe– This popular restaurant offers weekend brunch and daily lunch like pressed sandwiches, soups, and salads. Be sure to try the pimento cheese and the gouda grits with apple butter.
SoDough– The college town’s bakery has everything you need including brioche doughnuts, breakfast burritos, kolaches, toast, and sandwiches.
Madison Social– Located in College Town, a development near the universities, is this popular sports bar. The patio overlooks the stadium and the menu includes burgers, salads, and shareable appetizers.
Power Plant Cafe– Located in the 1920s power plant, this restaurant has breakfast sandwiches, flatbreads, and lunch wraps. The sister restaurant, The Edison, is next door and open for dinner.
Shell Oyster Bar– The old school restaurant in an unassuming part of Tallahassee has fresh seafood including oysters on the half shell and fried shrimp. You can even BYOB! It’s also cash-only.
Voodoo Dog– The Arts District-area restaurant has funky hot dogs and burgers covered in macaroni and cheese, guacamole, and pineapple. The restaurant is also covered in 80s and 90s memorabilia.
Andrew’s Downtown– Open for 40 years, Andrew’s is a longtime favorite in downtown Tallahassee. The menu has sandwiches, salads, and steaks. It’s also considered one of the best places for a power lunch.
Dao– The Asian fusion restaurant in the northern end of town has Japanese dishes and sushi. Favorites include the langostino crispy rice, pork dumplings, and noodles.
Table 23– Located in a former home, the restaurant sprawls across indoor and outdoor space, under the moss-draped oak trees. The menu includes Southern favorites for dinner and Sunday brunch like chicken and waffles.
Il Lusso– Easily one of the top restaurants in Tallahassee, the restaurant has steaks, seafood, and Italian dishes. It’s located steps from the Florida Capitol and has an extensive wine list.
Where to Drink in Tallahassee
It wouldn’t be a college town without some watering holes, would it? You’ll certainly find the coed-friendly spots downtown, all smelling of spilled beer, but if you wander downtown, you’ll find older-skewing establishments.
Bar 1903– Located in a historic library, the cozy cocktail bar boasts a cocktail menu spanning over 160 years with classics and house-made recipes. There are also small plates and bites.
Bradfordville Blues Club– The cinder block juke joint outside of town is listed on the Mississippi Blues Trail and hosts nationally renowned blues acts. It’s a great place for a cheap beer and a fun night out. You can even buy a catfish dinner!
Charlie Park– Set on the rooftop of the AC Hotel, the stylish cocktail bar has food and desserts as well as an incredible cocktail menu. The signature drink is the The Charlie, made with Empress Gin and lavender syrup.
Eve on Adams– Another rooftop bar is this spot, which is on the 17th floor of the DoubleTree hotel. It has indoor and outdoor space, live music, and light bites.
Happy Motoring– This bar transformed a former 1950s Esso gas station into a fun bar with a large patio. It’s kid-friendly and has an attached restaurant known for its mac and cheese. Drinks include wine slushies and local craft beer.
Waterworks– The tropical vibes at this tiki bar extend to fruit-focused craft cocktails and American food. There are weekly fried chicken specials and live music.
Where to Stay in Tallahassee
Hotel rooms are plentiful in the greater Tallahassee area, but be sure to book well in advance before a big game or you’ll be stuck out by the highway and driving in.
AC Hotel by Marriott Tallahassee– Recently opened on Cascade Park, the AC Hotel has over 150 modern rooms with coffee makers and fridges, along with an in-house restaurant with breakfast, a rooftop bar, and a fitness center.
Hotel Duval– The modern hotel near the state capital offers amenities like free WiFi, flat-screen televisions, coffee makers, a rooftop bar, and a fitness center. The hotel also has an Art Deco-inspired design.
Hyatt House Tallahassee– This extended stay hotel in the Railroad Square Arts District is close to the best restaurants and shopping. It offers an outdoor pool, a snack bar, a lounge, free WiFi, and pet-friendly rooms.
Hotel Indigo – Tallahassee– The chain’s design features are translated into this city’s property with a bar and restaurant, pet-friendly rooms, free WiFi, and an outdoor patio with a fire pit.
Tallahassee Sun & Moon– The college town also has a hostel with bunk rooms and private rooms along with a shared living area, free parking, free WiFi, and kitchen access.
Camping- There are plenty of campsites near Tallahassee, including state parks and near the Wakulla River. The Dyrt has a listing of the best.
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My stay in Tallahassee was arranged by Zimmerman PR.