By Julie Landry Laviolette
Along with southern hospitality and charm, Tallahassee has a bounty of natural treasures that are a must-see for any visitor looking for an ecotourism experience.
From farm-to-table restaurants to parks with plentiful wildlife viewing and earth-friendly activities, Tallahassee offers a variety of ecologically responsible ways to explore the area:
From a sea turtle rehab facility to sprawling parks on the Great Florida Birding and Wildlife Trail, Tallahassee offers visitors many ways to interact with nature:
Tallahassee Museum is a 52-acre natural history museum that features native habitats of indigenous wildlife such as the Florida panther, black bear, red wolf, river otter, alligator and bald eagle. The museum also features nature trails, native gardens and historic buildings to tour.
Alfred B. Maclay Gardens State Park
Alfred B. Maclay Gardens State Park is an oasis of flower gardens surrounding the winter home of a New York financier. The grounds feature more than 200 floral species, a secret garden, reflection pool, nature trails, fishing and boating.
J.R. Alford Greenway
J.R. Alford Greenway includes more than 800 acres of pastures, mixed forests, hardwoods and freshwater swamp in a lake setting. It is located on the Great Florida Birding and Wildlife Trail and has 17 miles of trails.
Elinor Klapp-Phipps Park
Elinor Klapp-Phipps Park offers trails for mountain biking, horseback riding and hiking. It is part of the Great Florida Birding and Wildlife Trail and features unique “Bluebird and Butterfly” trails.
Lafayette Heritage Trail Park
Lafayette Heritage Trail Park offers shared-use trails for hiking and bicycling, mountain bike trails and a paddling trail. The park has a fishing pier, floating docks and a boat ramp.
Gulf Specimen Marine Lab
Gulf Specimen Marine Lab in nearby Panacea is a non-profit sea turtle rehabilitation facility and marine life and conservation education center. It offers guided tours of its lab, living dock and marshlands.
Wakulla Springs State Park
Edward Ball Wakulla Springs State Park, located 15 miles from Tallahassee, is the world’s largest and deepest freshwater spring. The historic park and recreation area offers spots to scuba dive and snorkel, as well as hike, bike, see wildlife and horseback ride.
The Robert K. Godfrey Herbarium
The Robert K. Godfrey Herbarium at Florida State University is a museum-quality collection of more than 220,000 plant and microalgae specimens and an acclaimed research center.
Choose your eco-friendly adventure in Tallahassee and dive in to hiking, biking or paddling trails, birdwatching, walking tours, fishing and more:
Use the Trailahassee website to find an abundance of trails to run, hike, bicycle or horseback ride. You’ll find 17 miles of multi-use trails on the J.R. Alford Greenway. There are more than 100 acres to explore at Apalachee Regional Park, and Elinor Klapp-Phipps Park has 634 acres along the shores of Lake Jackson, with separate hiking, mountain biking and equestrian trails.
The Florida National Scenic Trail
Hike a section of The Florida National Scenic Trail, which meanders for 1,300 miles around the state. Enter the trail along the Aucilla River to see the Aucilla Sinks, where the river resurfaces in a series of sinkholes.
Go birdwatching in J.R. Alford Greenway or Elinor Klapp-Phipps Park, which are on the Great Florida Birding and Wildlife Trail. See a variety of birds common to the area, including red-tailed hawks, wintering palm warblers, white-throated and grasshopper sparrows and eastern meadowlarks. A.J. Henry Park and the Apalachicola National Forest also are popular for birders.
Paddle your kayak, canoe or stand-up paddleboard along Tallahassee’s five rivers, 20 lakes, miles of coastline and paddling trails throughout the region. Choose from day trips or overnight camping, take a guided paddling tour or go it alone.
St. Marks Historic Railroad State Trail
Bicycle or hike the St. Marks Historic Railroad State Trail, a 16-mile paved route that follows Florida’s first and longest operating railroad. Start at the Capital City trailhead and ride to the historic town of St. Marks.
Mountain bike through the woods and circle Lake Overstreet in Alfred B. Maclay Gardens State Park, or head to the rugged nature path on the Gun Range Loop, also known as the Magnolia Trail, in Tom Brown Park.
See the sites in eco-friendly ways, including walking tours of downtown, ghost walking tours and tours by Segway, pedicab and multi-person electric carts.
Fish Tallahassee’s abundance of lakes, rivers and the nearby Gulf Coast. The area offers opportunities for freshwater lake and river fishing as well as off-shore saltwater adventures.
FOOD AND DINING
Find thoughtfully sourced and farm-to-table cuisine, local farmer’s markets and family-owned farms in Tallahassee:
Backwoods Crossing takes the farm-to-table concept one step further by combining a family-friendly eatery with an onsite farm and produce from local farms.
RedEye Coffee dispenses socially- and environmentally-conscious Fair Trade organic coffee and tea. Profits help local and global empowerment charities.
Kool Beanz Café is an easygoing, quirky standby for creative fare sourced by local farmers and food vendors.
Sweet Pea Café is a vegan eatery committed to local and organically grown ingredients.
Many Tallahassee farms grow organic produce and make farm products for area retailers and restaurants. They include Turkey Hill Farm, Full Earth Farm and Orchard Pond Organics. Visit redhillsfarmalliance.com to find out more about sustainable agriculture operations in the Tallahassee area.
Getting around town in a green way is a breeze, whether you choose ride-sharing services like Uber or Lyft, take a shuttle or use your own pedal power.
Bicycle Tallahassee’s signature canopy roads, which are designated as full-share roads for cyclists. Enjoy the scenery as you bike under the shade of massive moss-covered oaks, sweet gums, hickory trees and pines. The city has nine canopy roads and more than 78 miles of shaded routes.
Bike Eat Shop Tallahassee, known as BEST, is a partnership between the cycling and business communities. Members receive discounts and incentives for riding a bike to member shops and eateries. Bike Tallahassee offers a calendar of cycling related events and activities.
The Trolley is a free seasonal shuttle connecting the dining and entertainment districts in Midtown, CollegeTown and Downtown.
StarMetro, the city’s bus service, offers real-time route updates, mobile bus passes and routes throughout the city daily.
If you’re driving an electric or hybrid vehicle, you can plot your course for charging stations on Plugshare.
Be kind to the earth with green lodging in Tallahassee, from camping under the stars to resorts and hotels that have pledged to conserve water and energy. Do your part by reusing linens and watching your personal water consumption and energy use.
Camping is available at Williams Landing and Hall Landing, both of which have restrooms, showers, picnic areas, grills and a fishing pier.
Four Points by Sheraton Downtown is a LEED certified hotel with complimentary EV charging stations and bicycles to lend.
Green Lodging Program
Florida Green Lodging Program certifies properties for its commitment to conserve and protect the state’s natural resources. Tallahassee Green Lodging includes Doubletree by Hilton Tallahassee, Best Western Plus Tallahassee North, Aloft Tallahassee Downtown, Hampton Inn Tallahassee Central, Springhill Suites Tallahassee Central, Hilton Garden Inn Tallahassee, Hampton Inn & Suites Resort, Residence Inn Tallahassee North and Staybridge Suites Tallahassee. Find an interactive map here.
Do your part to help conserve the natural beauty and wildlife of the Tallahassee area by looking for ways to volunteer:
Gulf Specimen Marine Laboratory
Gulf Specimen Marine Laboratory in Panacea is a non-profit marine life education center and sea turtle rehabilitation facility that recruits volunteers to help with animal care, aquarium maintenance and other duties.
Keep Tallahassee Beautiful
Keep Tallahassee Beautiful is a non-profit that sponsors an Adopt-a-Street program, clean ups, tree plantings and beautification projects.
Sustainable Tallahassee uses volunteers to run a program at an elementary school to reduce food waste in landfills. Volunteers collect food and help maintain a compost pile.
Volunteer Florida is the state’s lead agency for volunteers and donations before, during and after natural disasters like hurricanes.
Volunteer for Parks
The City of Tallahassee Parks, Recreation and Neighborhood Affairs Department relies on volunteers to help with park clean-up, weeding, planting and painting.
Explore Tallahassee’s natural treasures, conservation areas and farm-to-fork dining for an eco-adventure of a lifetime.
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