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Florida's capital city seems to be a world away from the vacation and commercial centers of Miami, Orlando and Tampa-St. Petersburg, though it's only a short drive from Gulf Coast beaches. Spreading over gently rolling hills, it has a quiet antebellum ambience. Neighborhoods of old homes have roads lined with live oaks that are dripping with Spanish moss, and the city is a lush green most of the year. In the spring, azaleas bloom in bright colors, followed by dramatic magnolias. Spring also ushers in the legislative season, when Tallahassee's Capitol is flooded with lawmakers, lobbyists, aides, and all types of activists and delegations. Whether in town for business or relaxation, visitors will discover that Tallahasseeans are ready to go the extra mile to make them feel at home.
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Amanda Berlin

My mission is to create the most memorable experiences possible for my clients by providing the best service, knowledge and planning. My dream is to travel the world and have you right along with me.

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Overview

Introduction

Florida's capital city seems to be a world away from the vacation and commercial centers of Miami, Orlando and Tampa-St. Petersburg, though it's only a short drive from Gulf Coast beaches. Spreading over gently rolling hills, it has a quiet antebellum ambience. Neighborhoods of old homes have roads lined with live oaks that are dripping with Spanish moss, and the city is a lush green most of the year. In the spring, azaleas bloom in bright colors, followed by dramatic magnolias. Spring also ushers in the legislative season, when Tallahassee's Capitol is flooded with lawmakers, lobbyists, aides, and all types of activists and delegations. Whether in town for business or relaxation, visitors will discover that Tallahasseeans are ready to go the extra mile to make them feel at home.

Must See or Do

Sights—22nd-floor observation area at the Capitol; Alfred B. Maclay State Gardens; Edward Ball Wakulla Springs State Park.

Museums—Museum of Florida History to see state of Florida artifacts; Mission San Luis for its remarkable reproduction of an Apalachee council house; Tallahassee Antique Car Museum for antique cars and collectibles.

Memorable Meals—Masa for innovative sashimi; Food Glorious Food for its Perfect Chocolate Cake; Rattler buffalo wings at Andrew's Capital Grill & Bar; Kobe-beef burgers on the porch at Chez Pierre; al fresco lunch or dinner at Sage; the grit cake at Harry's Seafood Bar & Grill.

Late Night—Good wine and great music at Cafe Cabernet; alternative bands and an eclectic crowd at The Beta Bar; a theme night or concert at The Moon; Bradfordville Blues Club for soul-stirring live entertainment.

Walks—Downtown Tallahassee; Alfred B. Maclay State Gardens; Edward Ball Wakulla Springs State Park.

Especially for Kids—All sorts of animals at the Tallahassee Museum of History and Natural Sciences; viewing an IMAX film or the planetarium show at Challenger Learning Center; Tallahassee Antique Car Museum to see the Batmobile.

Geography

Although Gov. DuVal thought he was choosing a central location for the capital, today Florida's main population centers are far away. As a matter of fact, Tallahassee is closer to Atlanta, Georgia, than it is to Miami (a five-hour drive as opposed to eight hours). Orlando and Tampa-St. Petersburg are about four hours away. Jacksonville is the closest major city; it is about two and a half hours from Tallahassee.

Locals often refer to Tallahassee as the City of the Seven Hills. Since the city, like most of Florida, is rather flat, this phrase should be taken with a grain of salt. However, there are a few gently sloping roads in and around the city.

Visitors to Tallahassee will need a map or a guide to help them get around. Tallahassee is filled with dead ends, one-way streets and winding roads that don't seem to lead anywhere. Getting specific directions, landmarks to look for along the way and taking an updated city map with you will prevent you from getting lost. Keep in mind that US Route 319 wraps around the city as Capital Circle, and you'll hear locals referring to its geographic quadrants as a way to pinpoint locations. If you get confused, just follow Cap Circle. Walking is a viable option for getting around central Tallahassee, if your activities will keep you in the small downtown area.

Many restaurants and shopping destinations are located along Tallahassee's three main drags: Monroe Street, which runs north-south, and Tennessee Street and Apalachee Parkway, which both run east-west. Perhaps the greatest concentration of good restaurants, art galleries and boutiques catering to the young professional crowd is in the area called Midtown. Intrepid travelers with an eye for local color may enjoy getting lost along Tallahassee's Spanish-moss-draped streets: Neighborhood residents are more than willing to help you on your way.

History

Paleo Indians lived in this area as long ago as 1,000 BC. The Apalachee tribe inhabited northern Florida from the fifth through the 17th centuries. In 1539, Hernando de Soto celebrated the first Christmas in what would become the U.S., in the woods near the present state Capitol. As more Spanish colonists settled in the Panhandle, disease and fighting reduced the Native American population. The Apalachee abandoned the area, and it was given the name Tallahassee, meaning "old town" or "abandoned fields."

After Florida became a U.S. territory in 1822, the former capitals of East and West Florida—Pensacola and St. Augustine—vied to be named the territorial capital. Preferring a more central location, Gov. William Pope DuVal sent one explorer on horseback from St. Augustine, on the Atlantic Coast, and another by boat from Pensacola, in the far western part of the state. The explorers met near Tallahassee, which was declared Florida's new capital city. In 1824, the area around the city was named Leon County, after Juan Ponce de Leon, the Spanish explorer who supposedly sought the Fountain of Youth in the New World.

Florida became a state in 1845.

Potpourri

A replica of an Apalachee Indian council house has been reconstructed on the site where it originally stood at Mission San Luis, a state park within the Tallahassee city limits. It is 140 ft/43 m in diameter and more than five stories high. Zulu tribesmen were brought to Tallahassee to construct the thatch roof from palm fronds. It is a truly awe-inspiring space and should not be missed.

Among the celebrities who have attended Florida State University are Jim Morrison of The Doors; singer Rita Coolidge; actor Burt Reynolds; cartoonist Doug Marlettte; and screenwriter-producer Alan Ball (American Beauty and Six Feet Under).

Among the famous people who make their homes in or around Tallahassee are Pulitizer Prize-winning author Robert Olen Butler (A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain); Southern novelist Connie May Fowler (Before Women Had Wings); poet and National Book Award nominee David Kirby (The House on Boulevard St.); filmmaker Victor Nunez (Ruby in Paradise and Ulee's Gold); award-winning writer Bob Shachochis (Swimming in the Volcano); and choreographer and founder of Urban Bush Women Jowalle Willa Jo Zollar.

The National High Magnetic Field Laboratory at Florida State University attracts scientists from across the globe. Its draw: The lab houses the most powerful magnets in the world used for research. Not surprising, the magnet lab, powered by a 40 million-watt power supply at times of peak use, is the largest customer for the city utility company.

Long before Georgia was on his mind, little Ray Charles and his family made their home in Greenville, a small, rural town just 40 mi/64 km east of Tallahassee. Early in his music career, Charles performed in Tallahassee bars and restaurants, becoming a familiar face in the black historic district of Frenchtown. He was inducted into the Florida Artists Hall of Fame in 1992.

Reportedly once considered a possible locale for Walt Disney's Florida theme park, Wakulla Springs—a short drive (14 mi/22 km south) from Tallahassee—has a place in American movie history. It provided the backdrop for scenes from flicks including Creature From the Black Lagoon, Tarzan, starring Johnny Weissmuller, and Airport '77. These days, Edward Ball Wakulla Springs State Park visitors can get a glimpse of where the scenes were filmed and a close look at Florida wildlife on ranger-guided "jungle cruises" along the Wakulla River.


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