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Tallahassee Offers Grade A Family Fun

Florida’s Capital is More Than A College Town!

Tallahassee is one of Florida’s most famous cities ─ recognized as home to our state’s capitol and legislature and, as many ‘Noles fans can attest to, the stomping grounds of Florida State University (FSU), an institution comprised of 16 separate colleges and more than 110 centers, facilities, labs, and institutes that offer 300 programs of study. But this Panhandle town boasts much more than garnet and gold championship football games and lively political debate. Nicknamed “Trailahassee,” the region features more than 600 miles of some of the best biking, hiking, running, paddling, and equestrian paths and trails in the Southeast, along with tons of other great activities that inspire family members of all ages to discover their inner-adventurer.

Not Your Typical Florida 

Located approximately four hours northwest of Orlando, Tallahassee’s landscape includes vibrant lakes and rivers, densely canopied woodlands, and is just a short drive to the nearby Gulf coast. Rolling green hills create a dynamic landscape in stark contrast to the typically flat land of the state’s peninsula. Main thoroughfares are shaded by ancient moss-draped live oaks intertwined with glossy-leaved sweet gum trees. The breathtaking backdrops form a perfect playground for enthusiasts, explorers, trail blazers, and adventurers of all types to enjoy Florida’s great outdoors.

One of the best ways to experience this truly unique microclimate is by soaring through the treetops on the zip line and obstacle course at Tallahassee Museum’s Tree-to-Tree Adventures. Fun and affordable, the aerial courses send brave souls zipping over 50 feet up in the air through acres of native plants, cypress swamps, and animal habitats. Three distinct courses ─ including TREEmendous Adventure, Canopy Crossing, and Soaring Cypress ─ offer unrivaled views and only require basic height eligibility to participate (with no previous experience required).

Bike & Hike

Upon first glance, the sheer number of hiking and biking trails in Tallahassee makes it difficult to decide which ones are best for your family’s skill level. Yet both on-road and off-road adventures can easily be discovered on Trailahassee.com, a website geared to trail lovers complete with a mobile-friendly map outlined by skill, activity, and surface preferences. Perhaps the most popular trail for more advanced riders is the nearby Apalachicola Bluffs and Ravines Preserve, which features dramatic ravines and streams as well as spectacular geological formations.

Families who prefer a more scenic and relaxed tour may opt for St. Marks Historic Railroad Trail. Once an active railroad dating back to 1837, the trail is now popular among cyclists and stretches 16 miles (north to south), passing through charming communities and covered forest preserves. The trail ends in the quaint coastal town of St. Marks, where trailblazers can enjoy fresh seafood at waterside restaurants.

Paddle Power

Encounter freshwater fish, lovable manatees, and antediluvian alligators by exploring the five winding rivers, various sinkholes, and 16 accessible lakes peppered throughout the region. With rental kayaks, canoes, and stand-up paddleboards available at various launch points, you can paddle wherever the adventure takes you. Outfitters such as The Wilderness Way provide kayak rentals, night trips on the Aucilla River, as well as guided tours of the intricate and delicately balanced ecosystems of the area’s numerous waterways. The main waterway is the Apalachicola River, which features ever-changing scenery and branches into 11 different trails, including easy day trips to the tupelo swamps or endurance-charged, multi-day river trips with primitive camping.

Another easily accessible paddling destination is the spring-fed Wakulla River, which converges with the St. Marks River and leads to the Gulf of Mexico. Paddlers often encounter freshwater fish, dolphins, and manatees during a single trip. The origin of the Wakulla River is Wakulla Springs State Park, one of the world’s deepest freshwater springs. Families flock to this natural wonder during the steamy summer months to take a refreshing plunge in the 70-degree, crystal-clear water. Along with swimming and canoeing, the spring is also a hot spot for diving and archaeological research. Below the surface unwinds an extensive cave and tunnel system forming an underwater archaeological site. Your family will love peering into the depths from the park’s signature glass bottom boat and enjoy the fossilized remains, including ancient mastodon bones, visible 80-feet below.

A Walk in the Park

Shades of pink, crimson, rose, fuchsia, and carnation paint the landscape of Maclay Gardens State Park where graceful camellias, blossoming dogwoods, fragrant redbuds, and royal azaleas lead you to secret gardens, reflecting pools, and stunning floral architecture. The enchanting ambiance of the park, complemented by five miles of hiking trails that afford spectacular lake views, are perfect for afternoon picnics. The restored Goodwood Museum & Gardens captures early twentieth century design and landscape. Meander around the stately antebellum mansion enjoying the sights and scents of roses, heirloom bulbs, centuries old live oak trees, and magnolias.

Your family also won’t want to miss exploring the nation’s oldest wildlife refuge, St. Marks Wildlife Refuge, comprised of 68,000 acres of wildlife, bird watching, and Monarch butterflies. The Refuge celebrates the annual Monarch butterfly migration with an event where families can help tag and chart the migrating butterflies for research! You can talk with experts, learn about landscaping to help pollinators, and view live butterfly gardens.

College bound or not… tall tales await in Tallahassee!

Family Restaurants in Tallahassee

Uptown Café

Serving up delicious Southern breakfast & lunch standards, this locally owned and operated hometown café and catering company specializes in smoked salmon (which can be shipped back home). Open 7 days a week, the cafe is a favorite for local politicians and government officials.

The Crepevine

Perfect for a healthy meal, this Mediterranean-inspired fast-casual restaurant grew from humble Tallahassee roots. Now with multiple locations, this eatery serves both sweet and savory crepes.

Joe Mama’s Wood Fired Pizza

Enjoy this contemporary Italian eatery with a crisp, tableside-made salad, artisanal pizza doused in marinara made from tomatoes imported from Italy, and a handmade dessert.

Bela Bela Italian Restaurant

Settle in to this cozy, family establishment for a traditional Italian lunch or dinner. Parents will drink up the large selection of craft beer & wine and shareable entrées. Kids will like dipping the signature bubble bread in house-made sauce.

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