Tallahassee is a perfect getaway with something for everyone in the family. Twenty miles south of the Georgia border, forget everything you thought you knew about Florida, because this is so much more than sand, surf and theme parks.
Tallahassee museum is not the bland yawn-fest that will drive kids to balking. This family-orientated museum is set on 52 acres of land surrounded by stunning National forests and dedicates its time to teaching visitors about the natural environment and Florida’s cultural heritage. This is perfect for the family as it caters for everyone from pre-schoolers to senior citizens with loads of great interactive features.
The museum has made sure the history is a living component of your day out with costumed interpreters and demonstrations where visitors can get their hands-on history. There are elevated boardwalks in the grounds where you can observe the native wildlife, which includes bears, alligators and panthers.
For the more adventurous family members, there is the Tree to Tree Adventure courses, with climbing facilities, obstacles and zip lines. There are different courses for adults and older kids (one 20 feet above the ground and one 60 feet above ground) plus a small course for the little ones.
Mission San Luis
Mission San Luis is a living museum and a national historic landmark where visitors can explore the state’s Native American and Hispanic roots. San Luis was home to over 100 mission settlements between 1560 and 1690, with a reconstructed Spanish mission open to the public.
Visitors can get a real taste of what it would be like to be Apalachee Indian or a Spanish newcomer in the era. Meet costumed performers who bring the period to life as they tour the historic buildings including forts and churches. For families who may found history a little boring there are many hands-on learning opportunities and demonstrations should as scavenger hunts and blacksmithing, so your kids will stay engaged throughout the day.
Cascades Park is a large 24-acre urban park in the heart of downtown Tallahassee. This park has all you could need for a great outdoor experience including walking, running and cycling paths to playscapes and an interactive fountain for those hot days. There is also an amphitheatre which often hosts free family-friendly concerts and live entertainment.
Aside from a great day out there is an educational side to Cascades Park including plaques dedicated to the Korean War and a Smokey Hollow commemoration dedicated to the African American communities that resided in the neighbourhood during the post-Civil War period.
Challenger Learning Center
Found in downtown Tallahassee, the Challenger Learning Center is part of the Space Science international network, created after the Challenger accident to inspire an interest in STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering and Math). The center offers engaging hands-on opportunities for kids and school groups to learn about science and technology using advanced simulators and a Mission Control Room designed to replicate the NASA Johnson Space Center.
If your kid loves space and aspires to work in the field this is the perfect opportunity for them. Whilst some of the programming is limited to groups, there is an IMAX 3D theatre and a 50-foot planetarium always available to the public. There are themed programmes available on the 2nd and 4th Saturday of every month. You need to book for all their programmes in advance so check out their website’s event listings page for information.
Gulf Specimen Marine Lab
Just 30 minutes outside of Tallahassee, The Gulf Marine Lab is located in Panacea and was started by writer and environmentalist Jack Rudloe in the 1960s to supply marine life to schools and research facilities. The labs then opened up into an interactive centre so families could have the opportunity to learn up close about the diversity of sea life.
Kids will love this experience as they can pick up and touch many of the animals including hermit crabs, starfish and sea urchins. You won’t find nicer people than the volunteer staff, many of whom are studying at university, educate visitors and love to answer questions.
If you are a regular to Tallahassee, this is a great place to revisit as the exhibitions are always changing but you’ll usually find between 100 and 200 species housed.
Travel Tips for Non-US Citizens
If you are a non-USA citizen, you must follow certain procedures to enter the USA. Most passport holders from A VWP country can get an Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) through the Visa Waiver Programme, which allows travellers to visit the US for up to 90 days at a time. Many countries citizens and nationals are currently eligible to travel under this VISA ESTA system, including Australia, EU countries and Japan.
Before checking out all the great places Tallahassee can offer, we advise reading up on the ESTA VISA regulations and see if you come from an ESTA country. Don’t be discouraged by the paperwork and bureaucracy, visiting America and all its beautiful states have to offer is well worth it.