5 places that make Tallahassee special

Lake Ella. Photo by Taylor Berry

Tallahassee is no Disney World. It’s no Miami Beach, either. And honestly, it’s not a popular vacation spot to take the kids.
But despite not having a theme park or a beach, Tallahassee is one of the most beautiful and lively cities in Florida with beautiful and entertaining places that contribute to the city’s sense of place and make it the special town that it is.

If you drive down North Monroe Street and notice a breathtaking view of a lake right across from Golden Corral Buffet, you have locked eyes with Lake Ella. Surrounded by small shops and beautiful houses, Lake Ella is a breath of fresh air and one of the best tourist spots in Tallahassee. While walking the trail, be sure to explore the shops and eating places like Big Easy Snowball, which serves delicious snow cones that are perfectly refreshing on a hot day.

Tourists can sit at the benches and enjoy the view of the sun reflecting off the water while feeding hungry ducks. Overall, Lake Ella is the perfect spot for family time and romantic dates.

The Alfred B. Maclay Gardens State Park, located off Thomasville Road and once owned by Alfred B. and Louise Maclay, is a beautiful and historical garden that sees a lot of visitors, especially during the springtime when all of the flowers have bloomed. The garden is another romantic spot and is highly recommended for tourists.

Visitors get to see the beautiful trees and bushes dressed in gorgeous flowers and the lovely house that once belonged to the owners, but only in the springtime. The park does have a lake that allows people to engage in water activities like swimming and kayaking.

The kayak rental prices range from $15 to $20 depending on whether you go for a one- or two-person kayak. However, do watch for alligators when in the water, luckily the park staff will give you a whistle to signal for help when needed. There is an entrance fee that depends on the type of vehicle and the ticket is valid for the entire day.

Cascades Park is another beautiful spot. Located on South Gadsden Street, it offers a trail for jogging, walking, biking and/or skating. It also has a playground and amphitheater that hosts concerts and plays, and a water fountain which acts as a fun water park for kids. The real magic happens every Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 8 ¬– 9:30 p.m. when the water fountain puts on a water and light show with well-known songs playing in the background.

The show runs every 15 minutes and parents should keep watch of their children because no one is allowed in the fountain during the show.

Tallahassee is known as a college town because of the two major universities – Florida A&M and Florida State – along with other smaller colleges. And a college community means college parties. There are a lot of clubs in Tallahassee that have college parties like GVO and The Moon. However, there are some who don’t prefer crowded places with intoxicated people, paying for overpriced and sub-par drinks, and going to a club that doesn’t offer any food.

The Wilbury is the exact opposite.

The Wilbury, located on Gaines Street, is a barbeque bar with quality food, amazing beverages, games, and great live entertainment from local artists. On Oct. 25, the Wilbury held a concert with the popular pop punk band from Bradenton, We the Kings, known for hit songs like “Say You Like Me” and “Check Yes Juliet.” So, if clubbing isn’t your style, then check out the Wilbury.

During the day, Tallahassee Chain of Parks, located downtown on Park Avenue, may be overlooked. But during the evening, the Chain of Parks is almost magical. With trees hovering over the pathway and over a hundred sparkling lights in the trees, it’s a must to park the car and admire such beauty that no camera can truly capture. So, after dinner or when you don’t know where else to take that special someone, take them to the Chain of Parks. Just remember to feed the parking meter.