Tallahassee has been our daughter Lauren’s home for the past 2 years while attending Florida State University. It is known for being the capital of Florida and home of FSU, a bustling college campus with an enrollment of over 40,000 students. Even though Tallahassee isn’t usually considered a tourist destination, there is still plenty of interesting things to do and see in 2 days in this beautiful city!
48 Hours in Tallahassee, Florida
Since we usually go and see our daughter Lauren over long weekends, we try and pack in as much as possible over the 48 hours period. To save money, we like to use our travel trailer and camp, (read Coe Landing RV Park Review), but being a college and government town, there are plenty of hotels and airbnbs. It also makes for an abundance of cheap, delicious places to eat!
If you want to do more than just eat and sleep, here are some interesting places to visit:
Alfred B. Maclay Gardens State Park
These gorgeous grounds were first developed in 1923 by Alfred Barmore Maclay and his wife, Louise Fleischman, then later donated to the Florida Parks Department. Covering 1,176-acre (4.76 km2), the park is also on the National Registry of Historic Places due to the number of historic buildings, structures, and objects. The park also has scenic Lake Hall providing kayaking, fishing, and swimming. There are 6 miles of multi-use trails for hikers, bicyclists and equestrians to enjoy.
Although the park is best seen in the spring (January-April) when the azalea bushes are in bloom, we have also visited the park in the summer and fall and were still amazed at all the natural beauty. Although be forewarned, Tallahassee in the summer can be brutally hot and humid. Plan your visit for the early morning or late afternoon if visiting June-September. Hours: 8 a.m. until sunset, daily, Fees: $6 per vehicle. Limit 2-8 people per vehicle. Does not include Gardens entry, January through April (which is an additional $6 person).
Tallahassee City Parks
One of my daughter’s favorite things about Tallahassee is the abundance of parks for walking and relaxation. Being a poor graduate student, she needs activity options that are FREE! Every time we visit, we go to at least one city park. The bountiful number of old, oak trees covered with Spanish moss that you’ll find everywhere in Tallahassee, make almost every street as pretty as most city parks!
My daughter’s favorite city park, as well as ours, is Lake Ella (located at North Monroe & South Lake Ella Drive). Lake Ella is a small lake with a paved walking/jogging path (dog friendly) that surrounds the lake. Located along the walking path are park benches for stopping and watching the many ducks that call Lake Ella home. There are also several restaurants and shops nearby. Every Thursday night (weather permitting), there are food trucks and a live band. I recommend bringing lawn chairs or a blanket to sit and picnic on these nights.
Lauren also really likes Lake Jackson Mounds Archeological State Park and Tom Brown Park, but we haven’t been to those. According to Lauren, Tom Brown Park is pretty big and has a dog park for your four-legged friends. You can also take a trail from Tom Brown Park to Lafayette Heritage Trail Park. It has a pretty lake where she has taken lots of beautiful Facebook pics.
The Tallahassee Museum is more like an adventure/nature park, then a museum. Almost all of it is outdoors. For the history lover, there are rare historical buildings. One area is the 1880s “Big Ben Farm” with a barns, animals, and live crafting demonstrations. The other historical area is “Old Florida,” which has a school house, church, train caboose, and plantation house.
The section I like most is the “Natural Florida” area that you view from a 1/2 mile loop walkway. The loop is mainly raised boardwalk through cypress swamp and oak forest. It really feels like you are in the middle of a wildlife area. It is so cool and quiet, a nice reprieve from the Tallahassee heat.
Kids will not only love the two sections I have already mentioned, but there’s also a dinosaur area, wildlife rescue “zoo,” and a ropes/zip line course (extra ticket required for the ropes courses).
There is a cafe onsite for dining at the museum. Plan 1-3 hours, plus longer if doing any of the ropes obstacles. Address: 3945 Museum Drive, Hours: 9am–5pm Monday-Saturday & 11am–5 pm Sunday Admission: Adults $12, Kids (4-15) $9. Admission to ropes course is an extra ticket depending on the number of courses you choose.
Mission San Luis de Apalachee
Mission San Luis was a Spanish-Franscican mission built in 1633 located just 2-miles west of where the Florida State Capital Building sits in Tallahassee today. Mission San Luis was one of 100 Spanish missions in Florida. It served as a home to Spanish newcomers and Apalachee Native Americans. It was destroyed in 1704 to prevent its use by other militia. This mission is now the only reconstructed mission in the state of Florida and has been designated a National Historic Landmark.
When you visit Mission San Luis de Apalachee, be prepared to be transported back in time. The “living history” museum staffs reenactors to answer questions and portray life as it was in Florida over 300 years ago. The museum houses more than 950,000 artifacts and 16 tons of building materials recovered from missions sites around the state. Being a history teacher, I was in my element, and especially liked the Spanish fort!
The buildings are spread out, and it can get very hot and humid, so a water bottle will be a welcomed friend. When we were there we saw senior citizens and young families visiting, all seeming to enjoy this historical treasure. Plan on spending 1-2 hours. Address: 2100 West Tennessee Street, Hours: 10am-4pm Tuesday – Sunday, Admission: Adults $5, Kids (6-17) $2
St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge
St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge is actually an hour south of Tallahassee, but it ranks on TripAdvisor as the #2 thing to do in Tallahassee, right after visiting Florida State University. We have made the drive every time we’ve come down to see Lauren. The drive itself from Tallahassee is pretty, and once you enter the wildlife refuge, the views are gorgeous!
The refuge was established in 1931 to give birds migrating south a winter habitat. It is one of the oldest natural refuges in the United States. Covering over 70,000 acres, including 43 miles of gulf coastline, the birds have gotten the message and are everywhere! Each time we visited, we encountered numerous bird enthusiasts with binoculars in hand. I later learned that birdwatchers come to St. Marks to watch rare bird migrations.
Also located in the refuge is the historic St. Marks Lighthouse, which was built in 1843 and is still in use today. Address: 1255 Lighthouse Road Hours: Open year around during daylight hours, Admission: $5 for car and motorcycle daily pass
Have you been to Tallahassee, Florida before? We’d love for you to add your thoughts and recommendations. Have any questions? Please ask by commenting below! Keep up with all of our travel, camping, and cycling tips by following us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest. Leave us your email (blue box at the bottom of the post) to subscribe to our weekly newsletter and never miss a post!