Having a great time doesn’t have to break the bank. Get out and explore with these ten activities right here in Tallahassee!
1. Maclay Gardens:
A masterpiece of floral architecture, Alfred B. Maclay Gardens State Park combines rich history with a variety of land- and water-based outdoor activities. And the best part is, you can go for less than $10. Maclay Gardens offers its visitors beautiful scenery, picturesque brick walkways, secret gardens, a reflection pool and other hidden gems to discover. For nature enthusiasts or even those looking to take a relaxing day off, this place is for you.
During select times, annual special events also are offered. My personal favorite is blooming season. Jan. 1 through April 30 is the peak of blooming season, when you can traverse the pathways to observe thousands of blossoming flowers. Blooming season also includes the opening of the historical Maclay House Museum. If you are looking for an event to attend during off months, don’t worry. Other special events include: Tour of Gardens in May, Kids Fishing Day in June, Scarecrows, Moon Over Maclay, Jazz in the Gardens and Camellia Christmas in December.
Open 8 a.m. to sunset daily. Admission for a single occupant vehicle is $4-6; per vehicle admission of 2-8 people is $5-10. Please note: During blooming season, an additional $6 is required to tour the gardens and attend other select events.
2. First Fridays at Railroad Square Art Park:
From 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. on the First Friday of each month, Railroad Square Art Park offers you a funky alternative to your usual Friday evening activities. Although Railroad Square’s shops and restaurants are open regularly, First Fridays are a special treat. On these special days, anyone can go and enjoy a variety of art galleries, shops, live music, drum circles, food vendors, educational and creative booths, and for those over 21, a wide selection of craft beer is offered. I know this already sounds fun, but to make it even better this is a kid-friendly event! For all the parents out there, lots of children’s activities and games also are provided for entertainment. Aside from First Friday, Railroad Square Art Park is open regularly with select hours, giving you access to everything from art galleries and thrift shops to coffee shops and restaurants.
First Friday is free to attend, but food and beverage vendors charge for their services.
3. Cascades Park:
Cascades Park is free for the public to enjoy. The Park offers an array of outdoor and recreational amenities, including a stunning amphitheater for special events, interactive water fountain, children’s play area, miles of multiuse trails and more for you to explore. You have the option to walk around or simply relax and enjoy the park. Cascades also is dog-friendly! If you want a change of scenery, this is a great place to go on a walk with your dog or my personal favorite, have a picnic with friends. Located just minutes from the Florida A&M and Florida State campuses and five minutes from downtown, Cascades Park is in the heart of Tallahassee.
Cascades Park is open every day from sunrise to sunset, except in lighted areas and during special events
4. St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge:
One of the oldest settlements in North America, St. Marks is filled with rich history and an abundance of natural resources and wildlife. Originally settled as a fort by the Spanish in 1679, this tiny town is one of the most historic in Florida. The town is approximately 30 minutes outside of downtown Tallahassee, making it a nice spot to take a day off and explore. You can spend the day walking along the water viewing wildlife, exploring the trails, boating and fishing, or even taking a trip past the second oldest lighthouse in Florida. St. Marks is the perfect change of scenery for a day trip close to Tallahassee.
St. Marks is free to visit and explore. Restaurants and water activity vendors along the way charge for their services.
5. Bird’s Oyster Shack:
Tucked away on North Bronough Street in the shadow of the round Four Points by Sheraton, Bird’s Aphrodisiac Oyster Shack has a variety of food and entertainment options. On Tuesday through Sunday, there are activities for everyone, including live music, trivia, karaoke nights and my personal favorite, comedy nights! If you get hungry while playing trivia or singing your heart out during karaoke, don’t worry. Bird’s has the best Gulf oysters in Tallahassee, but for those of you who are not oyster lovers, they also have delicious burgers, sandwiches and hotdogs. Beer, wine and liquor are served to those of age. Bird’s is never short of a good time, so if you are looking to have a fun casual night in Tallahassee, this place is for you.
Event nights are free to attend but purchase of food or beverage is encouraged. For events and details, visit https://birdsoystershack.com/.
6. Alligator Point:
Days at the beach don’t typically come to mind when thinking of Tallahassee, but just an hour outside of Florida’s capital city is Alligator Point beach. A coastal paradise that is off the beaten path with a low population has kept its beaches beautiful. It’s perfect for a day trip or an overnight stay in a vacation rental. Alligator Point offers serene fishing spots, wildlife viewing and a beautiful beach for you to sit back and relax the day away.
This relaxing beach is free to the public and open all hours for anyone to explore!
7. Challenger Learning Center – IMAX and Downtown Digital Dome:
If you are looking for an out-of-this-world experience, stop by the Challenger Learning Center. This educational, entertainment facility is located downtown on South Duval Street and offers a variety of activities for all ages, including a space mission simulator and the IMAX 3D theater, with a dome theater and planetarium. The CLC not only offers a variety of movies, but also programs and camps for all ages. The third Saturday of every month is Kids Free Day, when children can enjoy activities and free IMAX and planetarium shows designed specifically for audiences 12 and under. Other free events are offered to all ages, such as a viewing of Skies Over Tallahassee on the first Saturday of each month.
Show tickets range from $4.25 to $10. To view facility details, show times, events and ticket prices, visit https://www.challengertlh.com/.
8. Wakulla Springs:
With the world’s largest and deepest freshwater spring, the Edward Ball Wakulla Springs State Park is about 25 minutes from downtown Tallahassee and offers tons of activities for the whole family. Some favorites include a large swimming area, a river boat tour and walking trails. In addition, picnic areas are available, and if you get hungry, the Wakulla Springs Lodge has food and beverages. Whether you spend the day swimming in the springs or walking the nature trails, this is the perfect spot to spend time outdoors with your friends and family.
Fees: 2-8 person vehicle, $6; single occupant vehicle, $4; pedestrians, bicyclists, extra passengers, $2; river boat tours, $8 adults and children 12 and under, $5. For just under $10, this park offers you tons of outdoor activities and fun for all ages.
9. FSU Reservation:
A recreation area for Florida State University students, faculty and staff, as well as the Tallahassee community, the FSU Reservation encompasses 73-acres on Lake Bradford. Only a quarter-mile from the airport and four miles from the FSU campus, the “Rez” offers a variety of outdoor activities, including canoeing, kayaking, swimming, sand volleyball, disc golf and a ropes challenge course, among others. Special events and recreational sports lessons also are available.
The Rez is free for all FSU students with an ID and is open to the public: $3 for adults, $1 for kids 7-15, and free for kids 6 and under.
To learn more about activities and events, visit https://campusrec.fsu.edu/outdoors/reservation/.
10. Museum of Florida History:
Located on South Bronough Street, the Museum of Florida History is free and open to the public. If you are looking for a hands-on educational experience, this is the perfect opportunity for you. The museum collects, preserves, exhibits and interprets artifacts from both past and present Florida history. Artifacts range from prehistoric findings to modern space science. During select days, the museum offers interactive tours and seasonal events, such as its Summer Learning Programs. If no event is scheduled, feel free to take a look around a diverse collection of some of Florida’s finest artifacts and engage in a real-life timeline of Florida’s history. After having a great day, be sure to stop by the gift shop on your way out to take home an artifact of your own!
Entrance and parking are both free at the museum.