Tallahassee and the Big Bend area are as far south as you can go in Florida - not in geography, but surely in atmosphere.
Accents thick as Tupelo honey, red dirt roads, homemade sausage and stone-ground grits give this region its reputation as genteel and laid back.
But mind you, it's no country cousin. After all, this is the capital of Florida, and decisions made here decide the fate of the state.
Start out in the very center of town with a tour of the Old Capitol. There's a self-guided tour of the former government headquarters, which now displays exhibits on Florida history. The tour includes the governor's suite, Supreme Court, and House and Senate chambers. Certain sections of the New Capitol are also open to visitors and tours.
Continue with reflection by stopping at the Black Archives Research Center and Museum, on Gamble St. in the historic Carnegie Library on the Florida A&M University campus. Slave irons from pre-Civil War times, African tribal masks, and a 500-piece Ethiopian cross collection are but a few of the objects on display that tell the compelling story of how African-Americans have contributed to American history. .
Are you ready for some football? Each fall, college towns across the South are swarmed by rabid football fans ready to cheer their team to victory, and Tallahassee is no exception. Get in on the fun by tailgating at Florida State University before the game. If you chance to visit any other time of the year, you can at least drive by the University Center, the site of Doak Campbell Stadium.
RC Colas and moonpies are the snack of choice at Bradley's Country Store, 12 miles north of town. This early 20th century country store is still in operation, and though old-fashioned treats can be purchased and enjoyed while sitting in one of the front porch rockers, Bradley's main attraction is its homemade seasoned sausage made from Grandma Mary's 1910 recipe. Other homemade favorites include hogshead cheese, liver pudding, cracklings, and coarse ground milled grits.
Ride along any one of Tallahassee's nine official canopy roads, so designated because of their scenic, cultural, historical and archaeological character. These roads are actually centuries-old Native American trails later used by Spanish explorers and American settlers. Old Bainbridge Road, Old St. Augustine Road, Miccosukee Road, Centerville Road and Meridian Road are the best and longest examples, and each has its own distinctive history. Details on the roads are available at the Tallahassee Visitor Information Center.
To spend a fun-filled day walking under similar, natural canopies, visit the Tallahassee Museum.This 52-acre living museum, located on a chain of lakes, features living displays of native wildlife in their natural habitats, historic buildings, nature trails and gardens, an 1880s farmstead, a hands-on discovery center, zip lines and more.
Downtown, the Mary Brogan Museum of Art and Science is a world-class educational and cultural organization that incorporates hands-on science activities with visual art exhibitions that teach as well as entertain. The Mary Brogan Museum of Art and Science is a community resource for visual arts, science exploration and humanities education providing cultural understanding in support of lifelong learning.
Next door is the Challenger Learning Center of Tallahassee. One of only 47 in the world, the center opened in spring 2003. Shoot for the stars with an array of interactive, space-related exhibits and activities such as a space mission simulator and a planetarium and 3D IMAX theater.
Down the street, the Museum of Florida History is one of the perks to being in a capital city. With exhibits ranging from the prehistoric to the present, the museum is a visual time line of the people and events that have shaped the Sunshine State. Don't miss "Herman," a skeletal prehistoric mastodon pulled out of Wakulla Springs and now on display. There are also treasures from old Spanish galleons, a reconstructed river boat, and war relics from the Civil War.