Take the Perfect Outdoor Adventure in Tallahassee
Ride, hike, zip and dip your way through one of North Florida’s most active cities.
Florida’s largest freshwater spring is perhaps best viewed from a 20-foot-high diving platform that extends out into the tap water-clear pool of Wakulla Springs. Up there, you can see down to the jigsaw puzzle limestone at the bottom, and for the brave, backflip or roll up into a cannonball, maybe.
As you hit the water, no matter the time of year, it’ll be 69 degrees, likely right on the nose. It’s a cold-water spring after all, a year-round way to completely beat the heat of the day.
Also, for the more cautious souls, or cold-water-averse, you can watch it all nearby from a river boat tour that shows off the fish darting between the limestone.
Wakulla Springs is just a 30-minute drive from Tallahassee, and nowadays many Floridians are looking for road trips packed with invigorating excursions, the kind you’ll find at Florida’s capital city.
Perhaps some of you think of Tallahassee as a place to go mostly for college football or state government. But in recent years, Tallahassee has become a major outdoors destination, with a zip line adventure, biking and hiking trails that crisscross the city and scenic roads shaded by canopies of oaks.
Those trails now total more than 700 miles, with everything from easy paved paths to technical mountain biking routes that have garnered Tallahassee national attention from cyclists.
After exploring the trails, head upward, above the canopy that covers the city, to Tallahassee Tree to Tree Adventures. The three courses ascend up to 62 feet and include 70 obstacles, like rope swings, zip lines and traversing log bridges. With the park’s 50 percent capacity these days, be sure to book your ropes course adventure in advance.
For those less inclined to take on trails or climb above the trees, head to Alfred B. Maclay Gardens State Park. The property was first designed in 1923 as a respite winter escape for Alfred B. and Louise Maclay, and the diverse flora they planted has grown into a mature display with brick walkways and nature paths guiding through secret gardens to a reflection pool.
Just a block west of the Governor’s Mansion in Frenchtown, take a walking, biking or driving tour of historic homes in the city’s traditionally black neighborhood. Follow a series of plaques documenting the families, businesses and innovators that shaped their community and the city. Select plaques are also accompanied by audio interviews from residents telling the stories of the community passed down through generations. Freed slaves founded the neighborhood after the Civil War and developed a thriving middle-class African American community that is still steeped in history and culture, with a weekly farmers market and community garden.
After all that time spent in the outdoors, head over to the Florida Historic Capitol Museum. Built in 1902, the state’s former government center now sits in the shadow of the towering Florida Capitol. Interactive exhibits explore Florida’s history with artifacts and historic photos.
Reward your day exploring Tallahassee with a cocktail at the recently reopened Bar 1903 mixology lounge, housed in the historic Walker Library, then settle in for al fresco dining at one of three delicious spots: Backwoods Crossing, Il Lusso or Table 23.
Before heading out the next morning, maybe stop off again at the springs. You never know, on that second visit you could work up the courage to take the plunge.