When you think of the state's capitol city, two things come to mind: college students and politicians. But the status quo is changing in the midtown area of Tallahassee, where boutiques, restaurants, bars and trendsetters are moving in and making noise.
I'm not talking about your average college bar -- although I do love them. I'm talking about a speakeasy that you can't get into unless you know the secret password, a boutique hotel with the only rooftop bar of its kind between South Beach and Atlanta, and a new delectable restaurant with a celebrity chef at its helm.
Check in to the Hotel Duval
The only boutique hotel in Tallahassee, the Hotel Duval is a luxurious throwback to the glorious days of the original Duval Hotel established in 1951. Every inch of the property has been renovated with distinct style and elegant artwork. Think European chic meets contemporary glamour.
The hotel caters not only to the sophisticated traveler, but also to the techno-savvy individual. Each of the 117 rooms and suites is equipped with an interactive touch screen, through which guests may arrange services that include valet, taxi, restaurant reservations or room service.
Book the 900-square-foot Diamond Suite, complete with a wine chiller, full wet bar, and parlor sitting area.
Weekend Brunch at Avenue Eat & Drink
Enjoy a delicious weekend blues brunch at Avenue Eat & Drink in downtown Tallahassee, steps from the Florida Capitol building. Owner Chris Clark suggests you treat yourself to the 32-ounce signature Big Louie Bloody Mary, served in a Mason jar with a smoked pork rib. Don’t mind if I do.
Happy Hour at Level 8 Lounge
For happy hour (from 4 to 8 p.m.), head over to Level 8 Lounge, the trendy rooftop bar at the Hotel Duval. This place is a favorite for locals. Combining an edgy, sophisticated vibe with panoramic views of the city, it’s a place to kick back and hang out on one of their stylish sofas on the terrace and enjoy the scene.
Dinner at The Front Porch
When your mouth is watering for delicious fresh seafood, go to The Front Porch for a world-class dining experience. I took a seat at the bar next to our very own VISIT FLORIDA Fishing Insider Terry Gibson and his friend Christopher Coker. Both of them raved about the food and told me that I couldn’t go wrong with anything on the menu. Turns out they were right.
The Food Network’s Chopped Champion, Chef Joe Rego combines his love of the Old South with his Portuguese heritage to create food that is truly a joy to taste. My suggestion: Order whatever the special is for that night. You’ll thank me later.
Late Night at Alchemy
Once you’re fully satisfied on wine and seafood, it’s time for an adventure to the days of Prohibition, when ladies and gents sneaked into back alleys and whispered a secret password to enter a forbidden speakeasy.
While it’s no longer illegal to enjoy a spirituous concoction, there are a few rules to this establishment called Alchemy.
Rule No. 1: keep your mind open to new experiences. You must also mind your manners, dress sharply and remove your hat.
My favorite is Rule No. 8: Gentlemen will not approach ladies. If you’d like to make someone’s acquaintance, please ask the bartender to introduce you.
I traveled all the way from Miami to Tallahassee and one thing is true: Trendy Tally's got it going on.
Other Fun Things to Do Nearby
For lunch go to Bird’s Aphrodisiac Oyster Shack and make sure you order the grouper sandwich. Might as well have a dozen of the finest oysters from Appalachicola -- you won’t regret it.
When you’re ready to shop, you’ll want to check out the following boutiques for the latest in today’s fashion:
If you’re a history buff, this would be a great opportunity to learn more about Florida’s 500th Anniversary and how the Tallahassee region played a very important role in the Spanish exploration, arrival and settlement of the new world in the 1500s. For more info, check out Visit Tallahassee online.
Head over to Johnny Ringo’s for drinks and live music. Dust your cowboy boots off; it’s ladies night on Thursdays and there will be dancing.