By Florence Beth Snyder

With four permanent campuses and 50 part-time programs operating on five continents, Florida State University’s global reach is so wide its International Programs Office is authorized to process U.S. passport applications.

How did FSU, based in Tallahassee, come to be such a collegiate colossus? A visit to its Heritage Museum helps to explain. The Museum preserves “the student experience on campus” by showing off the small artifacts that reveal the giant ways in which FSU has grown in stature and international influence since its modest beginnings in 1851.

The Museum’s focal point is the stunning Werkmeister Window, a 22-foot-tall stained glass tribute to FSU’s rich history and the spirit symbolized by its mascot, the Seminole Indian. The window took a decade to build and contains more than 10,000 individual pieces.

The FSU Master Craftsman Studio continues to create commemorative windows for the Heritage Museum and other venues both on and off campus. Studio students and teachers make their magic adjacent to the Gaines Street roundabout, where they can be inspired by the sight of their newest and most spectacular sculpture. The 40-foot-tall configuration of glass and metal and light was commissioned by the City of Tallahassee and christened “Declaration” to honor the community’s commitment to all things Seminole. 

The Studio accepts commissions from private individuals as well as public bodies for statuary, busts, mosaics, glass art, paper moldings and even custom handmade pens.

Those who love art, architecture, and history never grow tired of FSU’s self-guided Monuments and Memorials Trail. All you need is a water bottle, walking shoes and the FSU history department’s fact-filled road map.

The Museum of Fine Arts, with its extensive permanent collection and frequent special exhibitions, is a great place to be on a rainy afternoon. The MFA begins its season with an international competitive exhibition and ends with the works of graduating student artists. In between, prepare to be surprised by exhibitions that challenge and delight both novices and experts.

While you’re in the Fine Arts building, stop by the box office and see what’s coming up in the way of theater, dance and music. FSU’s performing arts programs are farm teams for New York, the West End, and Hollywood. At FSU, the best seats in the Fallon Theater go for the price of a movie, and student recitals and open rehearsals in the intimate Opperman Music Hall are often free, and always a priceless chance to snap a selfie with the stars of tomorrow.  

Flying skeletons? of course! It's the Florida State University Flying High Circus Halloween weekend performance.

Flying skeletons? of course! It's the Florida State University Flying High Circus Halloween weekend performance.

- Colin Hackley for VISIT FLORIDA

Everybody loves a circus, and FSU is one of only two universities in the United States that has one. The FSU Flying High Circus has been thrilling audiences of all ages since 1947. It’s the three-ring real thing, performing several times a year under its own Big Top. Student volunteers rig the trapezes, sew the costumes and fly through the air for the sheer joy of making audiences deliriously happy.

Another great experience is a tour of the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory. The Mag Lab is the crown jewel in FSU’s academic treasure chest. Whether you’re looking to spark a child’s interest or rekindle your own youthful romance with science, the Mag Lab will not disappoint.

The Seminole football team is just the front row of a very deep athletic bench. Everyone from old-school baseball fans to recent converts to sand volleyball can find extraordinary athletes to root for. Learn about FSU’s athletic history at the Coyle E. Moore Athletic Center, located on the north side of Doak Campbell Stadium. Exhibits include FSU’s Hall of Fame and displays celebrating the football team’s national championships.

The women’s soccer team plays home games in the state-of-the-art Seminole Soccer Complex.  From there, it’s a short walk to the FSU Softball Complex, Dick Howser Baseball Stadium and the Mike Long Track.  FSU’s tennis teams, along with collegiate, community, and professional tournaments, hold court in the 1,000-seat Scott Speicher Tennis Center, which earned a “Top Notch” facility award from the United States Tennis Association.

Spectators are welcome to bring their own lawn chairs to the sand volleyball courts. FSU will be gunning for a spot in the NCAA-sanctioned National Sand Volleyball Championship tournament.

For those who prefer indoor sports, follow the crowds of student and local supporters to the basketball court at the Donald L. Tucker Civic Center or the cavernous volleyball venue, Tully Gym. The action is fast and the fans are enthusiastic.

Feel like curling up with a good book? Ask anyone on campus to point you to the Robert Manning Strozier Library. Show your photo ID, and head to the second floor Norwood Reading Room with its soothing bird’s-eye view of Landis Green, which, on a sunny spring day, offers another welcoming venue for reading, strolling or tossing a Frisbee. 

FSU is known for infusing all its academic programs with a good dose of entrepreneurship, so it’s not surprising that even the smallest departments, clubs and sports teams have their own social media presence. It’s easy for anyone, anywhere, to know everything there is to do any day at FSU. Communications professor Mark Zeigler keeps his Twitter followers – 3,600 and growing – up to date on the highlights. Seminole fans will tell you the best way to see the FSU Marching Chiefs is in person at football games, and the second-best way is to watch on Periscope when Zeigler tweets out a video of field practice for the band’s next show.

When you go…
Florida State University
600 W College Ave., Tallahassee, Fla., 32306