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Time out in Tallahassee
How about a visit to Tallahassee?
This state capital city’s Indian name means ‘old town’. It is situated 30 miles north of the Gulf of Mexico, midway between Pensacola and Jacksonville. Tallahassee was a flourishing Apalachee Indian settlement in 1539 when De Soto arrived. The site of the former Indian village and Spanish Mission is currently the San Luis Archaeological Site on Mission Road which has guided tours every Sunday.
The atmosphere is very southern – the city was never captured during the Civil War – and there are many fine mansions and plantations. One of the oldest houses is The Columns at the junction of North Adam Street and West Park Street. It is constructed of red brick with a pitch roof and columned entrance. Guides will claim that a nickel is embedded into every brick, but no one has torn the house down to prove it! More feasible is the tale that the mahogany staircase connecting the rear hall to the upper floor was built through the rich owner’s bedroom to prevent his lovely daughter leaving without his knowledge!
Sightseers should not miss a tour of the old State Capitol built in 1902 and situated beside the new building built 1977 on a terraced knoll overlooking the business district. On Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, tours may be made of the Governor’s Mansion, patterned after Andrew Jackson’s Tennessee home ‘The Hermitage’. Historic artefacts and treasures may be viewed at the Museum of Florida History on Bronough Street. For the younger visitors, the Tallahassee Junior Museum, near the airport features nature trails and an 1880 pioneer farm, and is also a refuge for the endangered Florida panther.
Winter is probably the best time to see Alfred B Maclay State Ornamental Gardens, when azaleas and other native flowers are in full bloom. South of town at Wukulla Springs, thousands of gallons of water flow each minute from underground caverns to form the Wakulla River, upon which glass bottom boat rides are offered.
Lake Jackson Mounds State Archaeological Site on the shore of Lake Jackson is small but of great interest to historians – it was here that the first Christmas Mass in the New World was held in 1539, and many Indian temple mounds have also been uncovered here.
Tallahassee is also the location of one of Florida’s few vineyards, Lafayette Vineyards & Winery on Mahan Drive, where tours and tastings are available. Great place to visit after a full day of sightseeing in Tallahassee!
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