Summer Travel to Tallahassee

By on July 11, 2011

Touring Tallahassee

by Janet Jupiter

I had never visited Tallahassee, and all I knew about it was that it is the capital of Florida and it was a college town. Florida State University, home of the Seminoles, is situated there. It is an hour and twenty minutes from Miami by plane and about 10 hours by car. I flew. When I arrived and checked into the newest downtown hotel, the Aloft Tallahassee, I immediately began to experience true southern hospitality. Tallahassee’s Southern roots are balanced by a cosmopolitan flair. The well-appointed hotel, created with the DNA of W Hotels, has made every space comfortably specific.

Next morning, as we drove just beyond the downtown area, we entered tree covered roads and the relaxed rural area. The Nature Conservancy considers Tallahassee to be one of “America’s Last Great Places.” Dotted with rolling hills, ravines, gullies and covered by forests, rivers and lakes, Tallahassee features several varieties of oaks, including the majestic Southern live oak, as well as countless dogwoods, azaleas, crepe myrtle and camellias. A short jaunt to Lake Piney Z, where we boarded kayaks and paddled out among the cypress trees and alligators. Yes, alligators in the lake! But I was told, “if you ignore them, they will ignore you”, but I still kept an eye on them while they kept two eyes on me.

Lunch was a true Southern experience at Fanny’s, set alongside Goodwood Plantation, with a sandwich of fried green tomatoes and bacon, cheese grits and shrimp with biscuits, sweet ice-tea and Mint Juleps. We casually toured the Goodwood home with it’s centuries old furnishings and paintings which were left as is many years ago by the owner.

Another unexpected eating pleasure took place at Ave. Eat and Drink. Proprietor Chris Clark has it altogether. One by one we were treated to gourmet style tastings until I felt like I was a guest judge on Iron Chef. If you visit Tallahassee, be sure to stop in and sample their Southern fusion menu…ask for the lollypop lamp chops. Delish!

Culturally Tallahassee abounds with museums like the Mary Brogan Museum of Art and Science which houses a real working beehive and dazzling demonstrations and exhibits for children. They are also hosting a Baroque painting collection from Italy which has never been shown in the United States through September 18th. The Tallahassee Museum is a mostly outdoor museum adjacent to Lake Hiawatha where you can see native wildlife like the endangered Florida panther, a black bear and red wolves. No worries, there are fences along the paths, but you feel like you are part of the habitat. The recently renovated Mission San Luis, near the University, will take you back to the 17th century when the Apalachee Indians and the missionaries lived together. The 5-story-high, 125-foot diameter Apalachee Council House is a sight to behold with its extraordinary thatched roof.

When the day was almost over, and the sun setting, we finished our tour on another rooftop. Level 8, the rooftop bar at the boutique downtown hotel, Hotel Duval overlooks Tallahassee where it all comes together as history meets the future.

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