Located in Northwest Florida, Tallahassee has been the state capital since 1824, when Florida was still a U.S. territory. The city, whose name means “old fields” in the local indigenous language of Muskogean, lies roughly 20 miles/32 kilometers from the Gulf of Mexico and is also known for being a college town. Both rock band Creed and rapper T-Pain hail from “Tally,” as locals often refer to their hometown. Tallahassee is a city of extreme temperatures, even by Florida’s standards. Summers often see days over 100F/38C, while winters can dip down in the freezing range, even seeing a rare snowfall every few decades.
The City’s Culture
Lying closer to Atlanta than to Miami, Tallahassee has more of a Southern feel than many other Florida cities, making it more laidback. The city’s many institutions of higher learning at times lend it a college-town vibe, with Florida State University the most prominent in terms of education and its sports teams. The population in general is one of the most highly educated in the state, with nearly half of residents holding a bachelor’s degree or above. The annual Red Hill Horse Trials is one of the world’s leading equestrian events, while Springtime Tallahassee celebrates the city’s long history from Spanish territory to today.
The warm Florida climate means the outdoors are a big draw in Tallahassee, and at the top of the list is the St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge, with more than 70,000 acres and a lighthouse dating back to 1842. The Museum of Florida History is home to “Herman,” a 10,000-year-old mastodon skeleton, while the Tallahassee Automobile and Collectibles Museum has a collection with such diverse pieces as the horse-drawn hearse that carried Abraham Lincoln and several incarnations of the Batmobile. Almost unknown even to locals is Lichgate on High Road, a whimsical home that was a dream-turned-reality of a former FSU professor.
Where to Explore
By day, Downtown Tallahassee acts as the state’s seat of government, then transforms into the city’s nightlife destination, with a year-round calendar of cultural events, including the annual crawfish festival. Numerous cafes and pubs line the streets of the hip All Saints district, while Governor’s Walk provides a historic peek into Tally’s past. The first Friday of each month finds the galleries and shops of Railroad Square Art Park abuzz with the latest art happenings. Nearby, the town of Havana is known for its numerous antique stores, and Florida Caverns State Park offers cave tours brimming with stalactites and stalagmites.