I woke up this morning and stepped outside to the most beautiful, crisp fall weather with the clearest blue skies. So naturally, I started thinking of ways I could be outside in this perfect weather and all of the things I could do. Tallahassee, at first glance, can seem to be a predominantly urban setting but there is an entire community of hidden nature trails and parks within the city limits. These areas are typically used for a variety of activities, anywhere from guided meditation groups from FSU, hiking destinations or even just picnic date nights. So here are my top six nature lovers’ oases in Tallahassee, feel free to check them out!
1. Alfred B Maclay Gardens State Park
Maclay Gardens is a serene oasis on Thomasville Road in Tallahassee. It is home to a variety of areas and activities perfect for the indecisive nature lover. If you’re an adventurous and active outdoor aficionado, you can check out the hiking trails on the grounds. Or if you prefer a quieter and more leisurely stroll, check out the many walking paths and meander around the historic homestead or take a peek into the reflecting pool. Go take some Instagram-worthy pictures in one of the many perfect photo spots then strip down to your ‘kinis and take a dip in the swimming hole or go for a kayak!
2. Leon Sinks Geological Area
The Leon Sinks Geological Area is home to many beautiful and unique rock formations and serene walking paths that lead to multiple gorgeous blue-green sinkhole ponds. Make sure to spray on that bug spray and take a hike throughout one of the many hiking paths before you stop for a peaceful picnic! If you have time, extend your visit and explore some of the caves!
3. St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge
St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge is the perfect spot for the wild animal lover! Check out bald eagles in their nest or alligators and turtles out for a leisurely swim. Go on a hike or climb the lookout tower next to the lighthouse. Yes, there’s a lighthouse! If you’re a history buff, check out the local lore and history around the lighthouse! Maybe go fishing off the deck or launch your boat and sail out through the marsh for a deeper water catch.
4. Mission San Luis Mission
San Luis is perfect for the history buff or the hike-loving adventurer. Check out hands-on exhibits and building recreations at this historical mission. This is the only reconstructed Spanish mission in Florida. Yes, I’ll say that again. West Tennessee street of Tallahassee is home to the only reconstructed Spanish mission in Florida, as well as the largest historic Indian building in the Southeast. If archeology isn’t your thing, check out the hiking trails or stop for a quiet and peaceful picnic.
5. Lafayette Heritage Trail Park
Is anyone down for a little trail riding or cycling?? Lafayette Heritage Park is home to many trails that are perfect for a casual hike or a fast-paced bike ride. Check out one of the many huge lakes and a few huge alligators! If you don’t want to commit to a full hike, the trailheads along the paths offer a refuge from the extensive length of the trails. Bring the doggies and the kiddos and make it a family affair ending in a perfect camp-style meal (pack PB&J sandwiches) at the pavilions.
6. Tom Brown Park
This park is the perfect location for all ages! From kid’s playgrounds to mountain biking trails, there’s no shortage of things to keep you occupied in this outdoor wonderland. Tom Brown Park boasts a full recreation area with soccer fields, sand volleyball courts, baseball fields and basketball courts. In addition to these more quintessential recreation spots, it also has a disc golf course, multiple multi-use nature trails (one that loops around an old prison gun range) and even a paddling trail where you can launch kayaks and take a trip through the water.
Being outside is one of my favorite ways to get some sun and exercise. I’m always looking for new parks to try or new places to visit, so if you’re like me and love the outdoors, go check out what Tallahassee has to offer!