College Towns of the South: Tallahassee, Florida

Home of the Florida State Seminoles
Florida State University
Florida State University

Tallahassee merges the beauty of a small Southern town with the upbeat lifestyle of a big city. Florida’s state capital offers lush parks and outdoor adventure, grand old homes and a booming nightlife. 

Book a room at Hotel Duval, a boutique hotel just steps from the capitol, featuring chic decor and custom aromatherapy on each floor. Its rooftop lounge, Level 8, offers panoramic views of the city skyline.

If you’re looking for a thrill, don’t miss Tallahassee Museum, which despite its serious name is home to a wild, sixty-foot-tall zip line. Keep the adrenaline pumping at the FSU Reservation, better known as the “Rez.” Located a few minutes from the Florida State campus on Lake Bradford, it’s where students and locals go to kayak, scale a forty-foot climbing wall, and play pickup volleyball.

Tallahassee’s natural beauty is on display at Alfred B. Maclay Gardens State Park, filled with stunning floral designs and brick pathways. At Cascades Park in the heart of downtown, you’ll find miles of trails and Imagination Fountain. By day its seventy-three interactive jets create a watery playground for kids; at dusk on weekends, the fountain dances to tunes from artists including Ray Charles, who learned music and piano in a local school for the blind.

Alfred B. Maclay Gardens State Park
Alfred B. Maclay Gardens State Park

Florida DNR

For authentic Latin cuisine with a home-cooked feel, Latin Xpress offers everything from Cuban sandwiches to yucca to empanadas—not to mention a killer cafe con leche. If you’d rather opt for a gluten-free pizza that incorporates local produce, head to gritty Gaines Street Pies and order the pie appropriately named “The One With Everything On It.”

When night falls, Tallahassee heats up. Alchemy, a popular speakeasy, bucks the “crowded college bar” stereotype. Table reservations must be made in advance, cell phone conversations are prohibited, and gentlemen cannot approach ladies—instead, they must ask an alchemist to introduce them. Over at Proof Brewing Company, you’ll find a wide selection of craft brews, including many of the company’s own (try the award-winning Proof Guru IPA). 


“Clusters and Hops is sort of a hidden gem right on Monroe Street. You can fit thirty people in there, tops. For $20, you can bring your own wine.”—Scott Atwell, president of the FSU Alumni Association, class of 2015

“Madison Social is incredible as far as nightlife goes. Being older, I appreciate the refined, chill attitude. It’s beautiful, overlooking the entire campus and the football stadium.”—Gage Smith, former FSU baseball pitcher, class of 2014 

“Sit on the benches looking across Landis Green at Florida State. Our historic gothic buildings and center green are just quintessential Florida State.”—Stefano Cavallaro, student body president, class of 2015














Goodwood Jams
November 1

This one-day jam session at Goodwood Museum and Gardens, a fine antebellum plantation home, includes live performances by nationally acclaimed, Robert Earl Keen, and two Tallahassee favorites Tishamingo and The Fried Turkeys.

Bradley’s Fun Day
November 22

While this event has clogging, cane grinding, syrup making, the real story here is Bradley’s Country Store, which has been family owned and operated in the same location since 1927 and is famous of its smoked sausage and country milled grits.

Winter Festival and Celebration of Lights
December 6

This event kicks off the holiday season with a 3K Jingle Bell Run, a parade, and the lighting ceremony turning the Chain of Parks into a winter wonderland.

Market Days
December 6–7

One of the Southeast’s largest and most popular juried arts and crafts shows, featuring unique, handmade creations by more than 300 artists and craftspeople.

Capital New Year’s Eve
December 31

Family-friendly street party in downtown Tallahassee featuring numerous regional and national music acts, food and drinks and a kids party zone. The festivities conclude with the ball drop and fireworks show at midnight.