Make Time for Tallahassee

Make Time for Tallahassee
Alfred B. Maclay Gardens State Park

The Sunshine State’s capital offers fresh takes on Southern cuisine and activities aplenty.

Many people night liken Tallahassee, Florida, to a spirited college town—home to Florida State University and Florida A&M University—or simply as the capital, but this city is as welcoming and lively as it is brimming with collegiate spirit and purposeful politicians. In fact, these universities and governmental buildings make up only a small portion of the eighth-largest city in the state, and there are many districts that invite visitors to make memories. Explore captivating parks, trails (more than 700 miles!), and gardens; enjoy boutique shopping experiences; meander through a vibrant arts district; and most importantly, fuel up throughout the day at noteworthy restaurants spanning from down-home breakfast joints and unique lunch eateries to fine-dining establishments.

Market District + North Tallahassee

Lucky Goat Coffee

In the Market District, kick off the day at Lucky Goat Coffee, a decades-long local favorite that now spans six locations throughout the state. Expertly crafted, house-roasted coffee is the name of the game, but it also offers delicious pastries from Tasty Pastry Bakery. For something a bit more substantial, check out Lofty Pursuits, a candy store that serves breakfast (yes, you read that right!), or Grove Market Café, which offers fresh takes on comfort food, like a Southern Benedict or Greens, Eggs, and Ham.

Lofty Pursuits
Hearth & Soul
Hearth & Soul

Nearby is Hearth & Soul, a high-end boutique that’ll pull you in from the moment you cross the threshold. Retail therapy has never been easier to execute, with the shop’s curated collection of items that range from swanky brands to local artisanal products. From there, meander through the majestic Alfred B. Maclay Gardens State Park, an almost 1,200-acre state park known for its picturesque views, blooming flora, and storied brick walkways that serve as a backdrop for large events as well as curious individuals looking for a serene respite.

Alfred B. Maclay Gardens State Park
Bradley’s Country Store

Wind down a scenic canopy of oak trees and Spanish moss to end up at Bradley’s Country Store, an unassuming pit stop that has charmed visitors since 1927. Inside, you’ll find many goodies to choose from, but the house-made grits and country-smoked sausage dogs are a must, especially when enjoyed in a rocking chair on the front porch.

Backwoods Crossing

For dinner, a true farm-to-table experience can be found at Backwoods Crossing, with dishes like the Southern Spin Cobb, Basil Buttons, and Jalapeño Catfish Bites coming out of owners Jesse and Tyler Rice’s 3.5-acre on-site farm. End the night at Bradfordville Blues Club, a one-of-a-kind live music juke joint perched at the end of a dirt road. Patrons can enjoy Miss Ernestine Fryson’s no-frills fried catfish and hush puppies at the fry shack in the yard.

Bradfordville Blues Club

Midtown Tallahassee

Uptown Cafe & Catering

When in Midtown, there’s no better way to fuel up than with a visit to Uptown Cafe & Catering for plate-size pancakes, an omelet brimming with Uptown’s famous smoked salmon, or the pesto scrambled eggs with a side of Bradley Country Store’s sausage, of course.

Jeri’s Midtown Café

If you’re craving another caffeinated beverage from Lucky Goat Coffee, you’re in luck, because there’s another location nearby. It’s also across the street from Divas and Devils House of Style, a women’s boutique that carries the best vintage selection in town. For more browsing, scan the shelves at Midtown Reader, an independent bookstore that’s cozy, endearing, and conveniently just up the stairs from a go-to lunch spot: Jeri’s Midtown Café. If you can, snag a table in the charming garden patio and be sure to order The “TAB”—along with the roasted turkey and apple butter, it also contains Brie from France and baguettes from the Big Apple! Another solid lunch choice, which is also popular for dinner, is Kool Beanz, an eclectic, easy-going restaurant whose walls are flanked with art, and boasts a menu that’s ever-changing and seasonally focused.

Mimi’s Table

Come dinnertime, delight your palate at Mimi’s Table, a true fine-dining experience sans stuffiness. With Chef William Lawson at the helm, this warm, intimate restaurant showcases dishes that highlight the chef’s classical French training without straying too far from his Southern roots. (He grew up in Lexington, Kentucky, and has cooked in Nashville and Memphis, Tennessee, and Oxford, Mississippi.) You’ll be pleased no matter what you order, but the Seafood Grill with Gulf shrimp, jumbo sea scallops, fresh lump crab, and a medley of seasonal vegetables is something any diner would enjoy.

Mimi’s Table

All Saints/Railroad Square District + Downtown Tallahassee

Drawing near to the heart of the city, wake up with a cup of joe and a breakfast sandwich at Square Mug Café or Catalina Café before heading over to the ever-creative Railroad Square Art District. It boasts almost 50 local galleries, vintage shops, and art studios, and it also hosts a First Friday Gallery Hop each month, which many college students—since it’s sandwiched between both campuses—and locals alike are known to frequent.

For lunch, journey just a few blocks away from the iconic Wescott Fountain and you’ll land at Metro Deli, a quintessential sandwich shop that sets itself apart from others thanks to the friendly Cheers vibes that owner Rob Bazemore and his loyal crew emanate as they quickly prepare both unique and classic sandwiches for repeat customers.

Walk it off by going down the street to browse the menswear selection at Nic’s Toggery, or take a short drive to Tallahassee Museum, one of northern Florida’s most-visited attractions and a true encapsulation of the beauty that lies in the region. There’s something for everyone at this 52-acre outdoor experience, from zip-lining and aerial adventure courses to wildlife exhibits and nature trails.

Charlie Park

For happy hour, make a reservation at Charlie Park, one of the only rooftop spots in the city, which offers incredible small plates and next-level cocktails with a view. It’s also conveniently connected to your home away from home, AC Hotel by Marriott, which provides ultra-comfortable accommodations and modern amenities just steps away from the beautiful Cascades Park, a 24-acre redeveloped green space that features winding trails and historical markers and is a hit with people of all ages.

Orchard Pond

If you have a few moments to spare before you head of town, take a scenic drive down Meridian Road to Orchard Pond. Located in the rolling Red Hills Region, this family-owned business pulls double duty as both an organic farm and a small-scale market. Orchard Pond is a favorite among northside dwellers to snag organic produce and house-made raw honey and granola, among other thoughtfully sourced treats, and you’re encouraged to come and sit awhile in the charming outdoor area with a beverage in hand and loved ones nearby. This quaint spot, owned by Mary Phipps, beautifully encompasses all the things this Florida Panhandle city has to offer: an emerging culinary scene, a deep-rooted sense of community, and a getaway worth making time for.