Florida State University. Seminoles. College town. Capital of Florida. Those are just some, or all, of the things that came to mind whenever I thought about the city of Tallahassee. I’ve been a Florida native my whole life – 27 years. I’ve traveled all across the world; yet, I never found a reason to visit Tallahassee. “What is there to do in Tallahassee besides go to FSU or work for the government?” I thought. Finally, I made the trip and got to explore all this city has to offer, and needless to say, I was completely blown away.
Whether one is a foodie, single, has a family, in a relationship, etc., there’s something in Tallahassee for everyone to discover that will leave you wanting more. For me, I explored the culinary and entertainment side of Tallahassee, because who doesn’t adore a delicious meal and a good time? From the moment I pulled into my hotel, The Governors Inn, until the moment I left, I experienced an endless amount of exquisite food, refreshing cocktails and live entertainment. The Governors Inn is an elegant 41-room boutique hotel located in the heart of downtown Tallahassee – just one block from Florida’s Capitol Building. The Inn opened in 1983 in what was originally a livery stable. The interior features the original exposed stable beams giving the first class establishment a taste of the past. As much as I loved the inn and their cozy lobby lounge, there was a lot of the city to discover.
I began my trip with a cocktail in the chic Level 8 Lounge, located in the Hotel Duval, and nearly devoured a delicious cheese plate paired with one of their specialty cocktails, an Old Fashioned. The best part of enjoying a few cocktails at Level 8 Lounge is the spectacular view overlooking downtown Tallahassee. Level 8 Lounge is a perfect spot to meet up with friends after work or to enjoy a drink in a casual and comfortable atmosphere. For me, it was a little “welcome to Tallahassee, ” treat before heading to The Front Porch for dinner.
If there’s any place to go for a fresh seafood meal, it’s The Front Porch. A classy but comfortable environment will make you feel right at home. Enjoy some of their most mouthwatering menu items such as their Fried Local Flounder with classic meuniere sauce over mashed red bliss potatoes and garlic green beans. Another excellent dinner restaurant includes the ethnic Nefetari’s Fine Cuisine & Spirits, which offers unique and diverse menu items from around the world. Guests can enjoy their ethnic meals while being entertained by musicians and belly dancers, depending on the night. For a classy and sophisticated restaurant, perfect for a romantic date, Cypress Restaurant is the best in town serving classic southern dishes with a five-star twist.
The next morning, I was still feeling full from The Front Porch meal; however, we were on our way to Backwoods Bistro, which is a popular restaurant in town – especially for breakfast. My breakfast experience at Backwoods Bistro can be described in two words – French toast. This wasn’t just any French toast though; this was a thick, soft and perfectly prepared meal with a side of fresh strawberries and whipped cream that was to die for. It was worth the guilt and definitely worth the calories. Another fantastic breakfast spot in Tallahassee includes the cute and quaint Paisley Café that prepares their menu items to order. You can taste a whole lot of love in each and every meal. Paisley Café will feel like you’re at the owner’s house for breakfast, and she, herself, prepared a southern meal for you. You’ll never want to leave – believe me.
Maybe you’re thinking about skipping breakfast and just heading straight to lunch. Some great lunch spots in Tally include Madison Social, (do NOT leave without ordering their Butcher Cut Bacon and The Madison Mule to wash it down). Madison Social is Tallahassee’s newest Social House that features lunch, dinner, happy hour, and late night experiences for all ages. On weekends, their six garage doors open up to expansive outdoor patio seating overlooking Doak Campbell Stadium. For seafood fans, head over to Shell Oyster Bar to indulge in the best oysters you can find in the panhandle area.
With all this eating, there has to be some way to burn it all off, and Tallahassee is the perfect city to explore with a large variety of walking activities. Just a short drive north is the charming town of Thomasville, Georgia. Downtown Thomasville is made up of shops, boutiques, restaurants and my personal favorite – Sweet Grass Dairy. If you’re a cheese fanatic, this will be your new favorite spot. Stop in after walking around the downtown area for a tasting of their fresh cheese from their very own farm. Looking for a historical activity? The Goodwood Museum and Gardens is a wonderful place to tour! Spend the day touring their 170 year old Main House or stroll through their scenic gardens. The estate began in the 1830s as a cotton and corn plantation that ultimately encompassed 2,400 acres. Another excellent walking activity is the Downtown Marketplace, which takes place on Saturday mornings and hosts’ vendors that sell local produce and goods with live music each week.
Speaking of live music, Tallahassee is becoming a hot spot for live entertainment due to their fairly new Capital City Amphitheater. The Amphitheater at Cascades Park is the home to musical, theatrical and other community events. It features more than 1,500 permanent seats and a sloping landscaped area for more than 2,000 festival seats. Concert goers will enjoy an intimate music experience in a clean venue. Looking for more live music? Out in the country passed the city limit sign… is the Bradfordville Blues Club. When we say this music venue is out in the country… it really is! The Bradfordville Blues Club experience is like no other. It combines a truly unique location and atmosphere with the best the Blues has to offer. Hidden in a rural part of Tallahassee, the experience begins when you travel down the winding dirt roads and up the hill that lead to the Club. Don’t miss out on the bonfire area as well. The bonfire burns nightly under the large oaks and provides a romantic atmosphere. You can usually meet the artists as they too enjoy the rustic surroundings out by the fire or you can just sit back and relax during the set breaks. You’ll sing, you’ll dance, you’ll drink, and you’ll have the time of your life.
On my drive home from Tallahassee, I couldn’t help but reminisce, (with my belly and heart both at their full capacity) on all the memorable experiences I encountered during this trip. I enjoyed the best of the best dining experience, a sophisticated hotel accommodation and world-class entertainment. Who would have thought that there really is so much more to Florida’s capital city aside from the college town I once thought it was. Tallahassee offers something extraordinary that can’t be found anywhere else and makes me feel proud to have been born and raised in the amazing state of Florida. For more information about traveling to Tallahassee, please visit: VisitTallahassee.com.