Newcomers Club

Considering Tallahassee as your new home destination? Joining the Tallahassee Women’s Newcomers Club will help you realize your fondest expectations.

A group of more than 200 women from all walks of life make up this group of vibrant women, many of them retired and looking for friendships and ways to meet others with similar interests.

“Newcomers” may not necessarily be an accurate name for this club, as some members joined more than 10 years ago. The Newcomers Club has provided them with a vehicle for social interaction, and they have chosen to continue by being actively involved in welcoming new members to Tallahassee and enjoying the many benefits of this wonderful organization. Many members, having established a social network through the Newcomers, are confident to branch out and participate in many additional endeavors our city offers. Many in the organization are merely Newcomers to a new stage of their lives, perhaps they have recently retired, been widowed or find themselves in a different living situation.

While featuring a monthly luncheon, the club also offers more than 25 individual high interest break-off groups.

Follow your passion by joining groups interested in books, bunco, photography, bridge, mah-jongg, music, foreign language, chick flicks, lunch, happy hour, etc. The club also features a monthly coffee, occasional “field trips” and special events. There are even couples bridge events and happy hours which “significant others” are encouraged to attend. Choose to do as little or as much as you like.

Senior Center

Getting involved is as easy as a visit to the Tallahassee Senior Center. Think it is for the sedentary? Think again. The Senior Center is for anyone over 50 and serves up a menu of exciting opportunities for lifelong learning and activity.

Interested in art? Classes are offered in watercolor, pastels, oils, acrylics, landscapes and more. Artwork by mature artists living in Tallahassee and the surrounding area is displayed in three galleries at the Center and in a juried showcase. Woodcarving, ceramics, crafting, quilting, model ship building and working with clay are only a few of the craft courses available. When it comes to health and fitness, there are classes galore to fit every ability and need. In addition to regular exercise classes, the Center offers yoga, Tai Chi and Zumba. Discussion groups on books, current events, creative writing and languages (French, Spanish and German) provide even more outlets for inquiring minds.

Like to travel? In 2011 alone, the Senior Center organized trips to the Gulf of Mexico for dolphinwatching as well as to the Canadian Rockies, New England, Ireland and the Galapagos Islands and Machu Picchu.

Barbershop quartet, guitar, folk music, senior singers, bridge and ballroom, contra and line dancing are among other opportunities offered by the Center.

If this doesn’t whet your appetite — consider that this is just a short menu of all that is going on. Talk to anyone who is involved and they will tell you the Senior Center is the best thing that has happened to them. Learn more at

Discover the ‘Other Florida’

In her iconic collection of essays titled “The Other Florida,” author Gloria Jahoda famously described Tallahassee as “200 miles from anywhere else.”

True as far as big cities go. But that doesn’t mean Jahoda was putting down her adopted home or the folks who populate its surrounding counties. As the so-called “poet of the people of North Florida,” she was fascinated by their small-town Southern lifestyle.

From Apalachicola oyster shuckers to piney woods turpentine tappers, her stories focused on a slice of the Sunshine State’s pre-Disney side that even then was under siege.

Theme parks and party beaches still haven’t taken over the no-longer Forgotten Coast since Jahoda died some 30 years ago. There might be a few more paved roads and stilt houses now, even a neatly manicured golf course or two. But the Other Florida is still here. And it’s well worth a visit.

Take St. George Island, an hour-and-a-half to a two-hour drive along U.S. 98, where sun and surf and sugar-white sand add up to one of the state’s most pristine seascapes. Or Wakulla Springs, only a few miles south of Tallahassee and home to browsing manatees, really big gators and the longest and deepest freshwater cave system in the world.

Just over the Georgia state line, the Rose City of Thomasville boasts a killer historic district, really tasty Farmer’s Market and a nationally renowned rose festival dating to the 1920s. Its downtown Victorian Christmas decorations are pretty special, too.

Heading west along U.S. 84, small towns draw big crowds with such decidedly folksy affairs as Whigham’s annual Rattlesnake Roundup, Cairo’s Antique Car Rally, Calvary’s Mule Day, Swine Time in Climax and the two-week-long National Peanut Festival outside Dothan, Ala.

The timeless delights of King Neptune’s pantry are the draw in quaintly coastal Apalachicola ­— once the third largest Gulf port between Key West and Mexico — with turn-away attendance at its two-day Seafood Festival in November.

Panacea’s Blue Crab Festival each May is another chance to feast on the crunchy crustaceans, while Sopchoppy’s suprisingly spectacular Fourth of July fireworks display ranks right up with black bears, tupelo honey and its April Worm Gruntin’ Festival (a strangely effective way of coaxing fishing-bait worms out of the ground once featured in National Geographic) as local attractions.

Closer to home, Bradley’s Country Store in northern Leon County celebrates its pioneer heritage with an 18th-century encampment on Presidents Day and a Country Fun Day in November.

A local legend since 1910 for home-cooked grits and pork sausage ­— as well as such frontier Florida delicacies as cracklings, liver pudding and hogshead cheese ­— Bradley’s tin-roofed general store and 16 outbuildings are on the National Register of Historic Places.

Even though neighboring Gadsden County’s once world-class shade tobacco fields now raise mostly tomatoes and nursery stock, Havana’s cigar-wrapping plants live on as upscale antique shops and gourmet restaurants.

Quincy’s Leaf Theater, Gadsden Art Center (displaying the works of painter Dean Mitchell, wood sculptor Mark Lindquist and other nationally recognized artists), along with the Quincyfest Blues and Barbecue Festival offer more reasons for its designation as an All American city.

And while Jefferson County may no longer lead the nation in the production of watermelon seeds, for the past 62 years it has continued to celebrate the big green melon and its succulent red fruit with a May festival that fills Monticello’s downtown streets.

All things considered, there’s more to be said for the Other Florida than nasty bugs and lots of trees. It may be 200 miles from anywhere else, but it’s still worth a visit.



Challenger Learning Center: A 32,000 square foot facility in downtown Tallahassee featuring state-of-the-art Space Mission Simulator, a five-stories-tall IMAX Theatre and a digital, domed, high-definition Planetarium & Theatre. IMAX and planetarium shows begin on the hour, 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 10 a.m.-10 p.m. Friday and Saturday, noon-7 p.m. Sunday. Student, senior, and group discounts available. 200 S. Duval, Kleman Plaza. 645-STAR (7827) or 644-IMAX (4629),

Wild Adventures: Animal-oriented family theme park and zoo in Valdosta, Ga. Highlights include more than 50 rides and rollercoasters, the Splash Island water park and regularly scheduled concerts. Hours of operation vary; call or check online for details and prices. Daily and annual passes offered. (229) 219-7080,


Alfred B. Maclay Gardens State Park: On the hills overlooking Lake Hall, New York financier Alfred B. Maclay created a masterpiece of floral architecture. The 28-acre ornamental gardens contain the historic Maclay home, picnic/recreation area, boat ramp, fishing dock and 5 miles of hiking/bicycle/equestrian trails. Check at ranger-gatepost kiosk for list of programs and events. $6 per carload (up to eight people); extra people, walk-ins and bicyclists $2 per person. Open 8 a.m.-sunset daily. $4 per adult, $2 per child younger than 13, infants in arms admitted free. High bloom season at the gardens is Jan. 1-April 30. The Maclay House is usually open during that time, at no extra charge. 9 a.m.-5 p.m. 3540 Thomasville Road. 487-4556,

Birdsong Nature Center: Featuring 565 acres of lush fields, wooded forests and swampland offering a pristine haven for birds and other native wildlife and 12 miles of nature trails well-suited for casual hiking. The center also has a butterfly garden, a small picnic area, and a bird window that allows up-close observation of native and migratory birds. Special events, such as nature walks and star-gazing treks, offered. Free to members. Nonmembers: $5, adults; $2.50, kids age 4-12. 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Wednesday, Friday, Saturday, 1-5 p.m. Sunday, North Meridian Road, 4 miles north of the Florida-Georgia border, (229) 377-4408.

Gulf Specimen Marine Laboratories Aquarium: View hundreds of living animals from the Gulf of Mexico – from invertebrates such as sponges, anemones, starfish, crabs and tunicates to fish such as sharks, sting rays, moray eels and black sea bass. Pick up and touch starfish, sea pansies, sand dollars, whelks, clams and more in touch-trays and tanks. $7.50, ages 12 and up; $6 65+; $5, ages 3-11; free, 3-under; call for group rates. 9 a.m.-5 .m. Monday-Friday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday, noon-4 p.m. Sunday. Guided tours available by reservation. 222 Clark Drive off Highway 98, Panacea. 984-5297,

The Parks of Park Avenue: Seven in number and stretching along what, in territorial days, was known as 200-Foot Street, the string of downtown parks dates to the 1880s. The parks include Cherokee Park, E. Peck Green Park, McCarty Park and Ponce de Leon Park, which hosts the Downtown Marketplace. Tallahassee’s premier open-air market features arts, crafts, music, food, a farmers’ market and children’s activities. March-November, 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturdays. Monroe Street and Park Avenue. Allen Thompson, 224-3252,

St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge: Its 70,000 acres include coastal marshes, islands, tidal creeks and estuaries of seven North Florida rivers, and are home to a diverse community of plant and animal life. The refuge also has strong ties to a rich cultural past, and is home to the St. Marks Lighthouse. The Visitor Center presents a general overview of the refuge and a number of displays. $5 per car, dawn to dusk. Three miles south of U.S. Highway 98 on County Road 59. 925-6121,

Tall Timbers Research Station and Land Conservancy: Private nonprofit organization. Programs focus on wildlife research, conservation, land management, fire technology and education. Highlights include the 1895 Beadel House, the Jones Family Tenant House and Corn Crib, lush vegetation and a panoramic view of Lake Iamonia. Free admission. Beadel House tours are one Sunday a month. Group tours may be scheduled. Call 893-4153, ext. 264. Members may use nature trail and bird window Mon.-Fri. 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Call or visit website for membership information. 13093 Henry Beadel Drive, off County Road 12. 893-4153,


Bradley’s Country Store: The Bradleys’ modest little shop in northeastern Leon County stands today as it did when it was built in 1927. The atmospheric store is also known for its sausage, grits, hogshead cheese, liver pudding, cracklings, coarse ground country milled grits and corn meal. A sure-fire, don’t-miss Tallahassee event is Bradley’s annual Old-Fashioned Fun Day each fall. 10655 Centerville Road, 12 miles northeast of Tallahassee. Closed Sundays. 893-1647, www.bradleys

The Capitol Downtown Cultural District: Ten blocks of culture and heritage which await exploration in the heart of downtown Tallahassee. Experience high quality museums of art, history and science, watch an IMAX movie, explore space in a planetarium, view public art, sculptures and memorials and more. Twenty-eight sites make up the district and hours of operation vary. 245-6300,

Brokaw-McDougall House: A “Gone with the Wind” kind of Classical Revival plantation home, built in 1856. The formal gardens were laid out in the 1850s. Today the house is used as a conference and event site. 329 N. Meridian St., 891-3900,

The Columns: The one-time home of William “Money” Williams, a wealthy banker, and now occupied by the Greater Tallahassee Chamber of Commerce, this 1830s two-story is considered one of Florida’s finest remaining examples of Greek Revival architecture. 100 N. Duval St., 224-8116.

First Presbyterian Church: This Greek Revival church, completed in 1838, is one of the oldest buildings in Tallahassee. The Territorial government designated the sanctuary as an official refuge during the Seminole Indian Wars. 110 N. Adams St. 222-4504.

Florida Governor’s Mansion: This 1950s building is furnished with antiques and antique reproductions. The lushly landscaped grounds showcasing Florida’s native plants cover almost 3 acres. Tours available during legislative sessions and the holiday season. Year-round tours available by appointment. 700 N. Adams St., 922-4991,

Gallie’s Hall: Grocer Alexander Gallie brought culture to the 1870s capital city with this performance hall and its two-story iron gallery. Contained the first theater and only public hall in the city from the late 1800s into the 1900s. Minstrel shows, concerts and lectures were standard fare. Northeast corner, Jefferson and Adams streets.

Hernando DeSoto State Historic Site: The only confirmed DeSoto site in North America was discovered by state archaeologist Calvin Jones in 1987. Copper coins, links of chain-mail armor and glass trade beads dating to DeSoto’s visit were among some 40,000 artifacts found at the 1539-40 winter camp site. “DeSoto Winter Encampment” special event and activities held in January. 1022 DeSoto Park Drive. 245-6340.

Lapham-Patterson House: Fishscale shingles, oriental-style porch decorations, longleaf pine inlaid floors and walk-through stairway with cantilevered balcony make this an outstanding example of Victorian craftsmanship. The house contains no right angles, making it one-of-a-kind. Built in 1884-85, it was named a National Historic Landmark in 1975. $5 adults, $4.50 ages 62+, $2.50 children age 6-18. Call or check online for hours and tours. 626 N. Dawson St., Thomasville, Ga., (229) 225-4004.

Mission San Luis de Apalachee: A living history museum at the site of a 17th-century Apalachee Indian and Spanish settlement. The history of the area comes to life through presentations by costumed interpreters at this National Historic Landmark. Learn about 17th-century religion, civic affairs, cooking, gardening, blacksmithing, soldiering and other everyday activities. Reconstructions of the fort, Apalachee council house, church, friary and Spanish house show visitors what archaeology on site has taught us about the residents and their community over 300 years ago. A new visitor center with a retail shop, orientation theater and exhibits opened in December 2009. The new facility also offers classrooms and a large banquet hall with outdoor terrace for rental. Annual events include a Military Muster, May’s Chihuahua Parade, October’s Blessing of Animals and a December Commemorative Mass. Camps for children are offered as well as adult workshops, lectures, theatrical events and more. Open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday. $5 adults, $3 seniors 65+, $2 ages 6-17, free for under 6, members and active military. 2100 West Tennessee St., 245.6406,

Old City Cemetery: Opened in 1829, this cemetery became the final resting place for pioneers, slaves and members of both the Union and Confederate armies, plus several Florida governors. There’s a self-guided walking tour brochure at the entrance kiosk. Open sunrise to sunset. Park Avenue and Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard. Adjoining the Old City Cemetery is St. John’s Episcopal Cemetery, founded in 1840 and the final resting place for Prince Achille Murat, nephew of Napoleon Bonaparte and his wife. At the corner of Call Street and Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard.

1884 Paxton House Museum: A Victorian bed and breakfast inn in Thomasville, Ga. Serving breakfast daily, tea Monday through Thursday, and Sunday brunch, all by reservation only. 445 Remington Ave., Thomasville. (229) 226-5197.

Pebble Hill Plantation: A tribute to the sporting life of the Deep South and home to extensive fine art, crystal, porcelain and other collections. Aside from the main house, the grounds include the Fire Engine House, Nurse’s Station, Log Cabin School, Plantation Store and Noah’s Ark (which houses Clinton Shepherd paintings of the animals of the Ark). Tours available. Grounds admission: $5 adults, $2 children 2-12, under 2 free. Main house: $10 adults, $4 children in grades 1-6, younger children not admitted. 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday, noon-5 p.m. Sunday. Last tour begins at 3:45 p.m. Just south of Thomasville, Ga., on Highway 319. (229) 226-2344,

Historic and State Capitol: A contrast of Florida’s old and new. The Historic State Capitol, built in 1845 and restored to its 1902 appearance including its red-and-white-striped awnings, is a Classical Revival jewel. Surrounding it is the starkly modern New Capitol and satellite office buildings, built in the 1970s. The view from the 22nd-floor observation deck is a knockout. Tours are available at both. 400 Monroe St. at Apalachee Parkway Historic Capitol, 487-1902. New Capitol, 488-6167.

Supreme Court Building: An elegant neoclassic structure with imposing Doric columns dating to 1948, the state’s highest court was designed by James Gamble Rogers II of Yonge and Hart in Pensacola. Tours include the upper and lower rotunda areas, the courtroom, clerk’s office, library, portrait gallery and lawyer’s lounge. To schedule a tour, call 414-6106. 500 S. Duval St.