Florida’s capital, Tallahassee is much more than the seat of state government. It is an academic and artistic city steeped in American history with a subtle, old-fashioned charm. The first Christmas celebrated in the United States was in Tallahassee at the encampment of Spanish Explorer Hernando de Soto in 1539.
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The Capitol buildings, new and old reflect its heritage. Watch the government in action from the New Capitol viewing galleries and a panoramic view of the city from the 22nd floor observatory/art gallery. Do not miss the soaring crescent of dolphins. Restored to its 1902 appearance with stained glass dome and red and white candy-striped awnings, Old Capitol Museum houses the Florida Center of Political History and Governance exhibits and the restored House and Senate Chambers, Supreme Court and Governor’s suite. Opposite is Florida Vietnam Veterans’ Memorial, featuring a 40-foot American flag suspended between twin granite towers bearing the names of Florida’s Vietnam casualties and soldiers missing in action.
Tallahassee has numerous interesting museums depicting various aspects of its life. The Tallahassee Museum encompasses fifty-two scenic acres of nature trails, authentic 1880s farmstead, hands-on Discovery Center, birds of prey aviary and reptiles. Phipps Gallery features fine arts, historical artifacts, contemporary or traditional interpretations of Florida’s environments and history.
Vicinity of Tallahassee
Le Moyne Art Foundation is known for its delightful garden and gazebo and art exhibitions, ranging from watercolors to oil and avant-garde to traditional. Museum of Florida History includes a nine-foot mastodon, Spanish galleon treasures, Civil War memorabilia, reconstructed steamboat and Prehistoric Florida. Tallahassee Antique Car Museum presents one of the southeast’s finest collections of rare automobiles. Mary Grogan Museum of Arts and Sciences offers two floors of interactive science exhibits and an excellent art museum.
Tallahassee lists 122 properties on the National Register of Historic Places. Take a leisurely stroll down Calhoun Street Historic District dubbed “Gold Dust Street” in the late 1800s, for its affluent residents. Historic homes include the Towle House, Tallahassee Garden Center, Elizabeth Cobb House, one of the few remaining Victorian-Gothic homes and many more. Under stately oaks of Ponce de Leon Park in the downtown historic district, Saturday markets offer live entertainment, regional arts and fine crafts, literary cafe, farmer’s market and hands-on art activities for kids. Walk in Tallahassee’s oldest continuous green space at Park Avenue Historic District where seven parks encompass historic homes, cemeteries and lush native flora.
Built in 1890, Riley House is Florida’s only remaining property owned by a freed slave at its original location. A National Register property, Riley Museum of African American History and Culture is the last evidence of Tallahassee’s thriving African American community, depicting life in from 1865 to 1968. Tallahassee has two famous universities, the Florida State University and the Florida Agriculture and Mechanical University. Founded in 1887 as a black institution with more than 10,000 students today, FAMU is known for its business, pharmacy and engineering schools. Its famous Marching 100 band was the only American band invited to perform in France’s prestigious Bicentennial Bastille celebration in 1989.