Tallahassee is home to some of the best parks and nature attractions in Florida. We’ve compiled a list of some of the locals’ favorites.
If you’re considering a move to the capital city (or even just a visit) you must stop by at least one of the gorgeous parks in Tallahassee. In fact, besides being the capital, outdoor recreation is what Tallahassee is known for. One of the city’s nicknames is “Trailahassee”. With 600 miles of trails surrounding the area and more than 88 parks in the city limits alone, this city is perfect for nature lovers looking to get outside and hike, bike, or take a paddle in one of our many lakes.
From state parks to kids parks, running trails to picnic locales, residents looking for things to do in Tallahassee have an abundance of options. So what are you waiting for? Get outside and start exploring!
Florida State Parks Near Tallahassee
Click the links below to learn more about some of the state parks, outdoor and recreation activities that are easily accessible to Tallahassee residents.
Alfred B. Maclay Gardens State Park
Walking into Alfred B. Maclay Gardens (known as “Maclay Gardens” by local residents) is like stepping onto the set of Downton Abbey. The European-styled sculptures, a serene reflection pool, and swaying live oak trees brings you back to a time period long ago. It’s no surprise that this park is a popular wedding venue since everywhere you turn provides a perfect photo opp.
St. Marks Historic Railroad State Trail & St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge
Known to residents simply as “St. Marks”, this is one of the most popular locations in Tallahassee for a bike ride. The 16-mile trail runs along the historic railbed, which connected the capital city to St. Marks, Florida. In the early 1900s, the railroad carried cotton from the nearby plantations to the coast. The trail ends at the junction of the St. Marks River and the Wakulla River, which provides the perfect backdrop for a mid-ride snack or water break.
Lake Jackson Mounds State Park
While locals love Lake Jackson Mounds for its tranquil nature, picnic tables and trails, history buffs from far and wide flock here, as it is one of the most important archeological sites in Florida. A community of Native American tribes lived here between 1,000 and 1,500 and included members from the Apalachee, Creek, Cherokee, and Choctaw nations. At its height, it was the epicenter of political and religious ceremonies. Today, visitors can explore the 2 remaining mounds, which have stairs and observation platforms at the top.
Lake Talquin State Forest
The Lake Talquin State Forest is located between Tallahassee and Quincy, Florida. The name is a contraction of these two cities – ‘Tal’ for Tallahassee and ‘Quin’ for Quincy. (As a side note, many Tallahassee locals head drive over to Quincy to shop at their quaint downtown shops and enjoy the food trucks on First Friday).
Lake Talquin was originally formed back in 1927 to supply hydroelectric power to the surrounding areas. Now it serves as one of the best fishing spots in Florida. In fact, the lake holds the state record for the largest speck fish (also known as crappies). Besides fishing, boating, canoeing, kayaking, hiking, picnicking, bird watching, wildlife viewing and photography are some of the top activities that visitors to Lake Talquin enjoy. There are also primitive camping spots for those who really want to get in touch with nature. Deer, turkey, birds of prey, wading birds, and alligators are also regularly spotted at the lake.
Edward Ball Wakulla Springs State Park
When north Florida temperatures rise into the high 90s in the late summer months, Tallahassee residents head to Wakulla Springs. As the largest and deepest freshwater spring in the world, Wakulla Springs stays a cool 68 degrees year-round, making it the perfect place for a dip during hotter days.
Of course, there are a few other creatures that also appreciate the cooler waters, so be on the lookout for manatees, turtles and alligators as well. If you prefer to view nature from a distance, you can take a boat tour, which is led by park rangers who can answer any questions you may have.
Natural Bridge Battlefield Historic State Park
History buffs from far and wide flock to Natural Bridge, as it’s the site of the second-largest Civil War battle in Florida. However, Tallahassee residents can take in a history lesson right in their own backyard. There’s a reenactment of the famous battle on the first weekend in March, and guided tours are also available here as well. Residents appreciate the picnic area, which provides a quiet place to sit and reflect back on Florida’s storied past.
Top 5 Kids Parks in Tallahassee
Cascades Park is considered by many as the social center of Tallahassee. While there are activities held year-round at the park for every age and interest, the splash pad is a favorite among locals with young children.
There is also a slide and swinging benches located throughout the grounds, which smaller kids also enjoy. Parents can head over to the Catalina Cafe for a quick pick-me-up, or walk over to Proof or Happy Motoring in SoMo, if something stronger is needed.
Tom Brown Park
If you’re new to town and looking to make friends, just spend a few weekends at Tom Brown Park. There’s always a crowd of kids enjoying the slides, monkey bars, swing sets, and more. And it’s no wonder why – the play area is gigantic! There are also large sails that provide much-needed shade in the summer, and a reprise from the rain if there’s a quick mid-afternoon shower, which is common in Florida.
Nearby is the local animal shelter, so if adopting a pet is part of your moving plan (or a promise you made to the kids), you can make that stop a part of your plans.
Although not quite as expansive as Tom Brown, Lafayette Park offers a range of activities and amenities for all ages, right in the heart of midtown. (And speaking of things to do in midtown, if you have kids, you must check out the Halloween party on Beard Street every October, which draws thousands of trick-or-treaters each year.)
In addition to a playground and picnic tables (a favorite birthday party location, due to the abundance of trees that provide shade), this location is also home to the Lafayette Park Arts & Crafts Center, which has been around for 50 years. Here, classes in pottery, stained glass, crochet and drawing are offered to kids and adults. So if you’re feeling crafty, head to Lafayette!
Kiddie Pool & Tot Lot in SouthWood
Southwood is Tallahassee’s most established master-planned community, offering many amenities residents want right in their own backyard. The community pool, open from April – October is a favorite as it includes a tot pool, splash bucket, and slide. Located just outside of the pool, residents can take advantage of the Tot Lot, which has slides and climbing equipment for young children.
Fred George Greenway & Park
8 Best Parks for Walking & Jogging in Tallahassee
Some of the best parks in Tallahassee Florida for walkers and joggers can be found on the list below. If you’re looking to escape the summer heat and run down a dirt trail with plenty of canopy trees to provide shade, or want to do a lap on a paved loop, the parks in Tallahassee have you covered (pun intended).
Lake Ella & Fred Drake Park
Lake Ella is located in Midtown and it is another popular walking and jogging location for Tallahassee locals. As you’re running around the .7 mile paved loop, you can enjoy lake views and get a glimpse of the ducks, which are most unusual, although Tallahassee residents are used to them and don’t give them a second glance.
The ducks are of the Muscovy breed – they are much larger than the average duck with slick black and white feathers, but their most distinctive feature is likely the bright red bill, which is covered in wart-like growths. Because many people feed them, they are unafraid, so make sure to watch where you run (and where you step) because they don’t tend to move out of the way as you approach.
St. Marks Trail
JR Alford Greenway
One interesting fact about three of the most popular Tallahassee parks – Tom Brown, JR Alford Greenway, and Lafayette is that they are all connected, which is great for those training for long-distance races, like the Tallahassee Marathon. At the JR Alford greenway alone there are more than 17 miles of multi-use trails.
Lafayette Heritage Trail
Because Lafayette Heritage Trail connects to Tom Brown and the JR Alford Greenway, it’s a popular spot for those looking to get in high-mileage runs. At the park entrance, which is located on the east side of Heritage Park Boulevard, you’ll find picnic pavilions, a restroom and drinking water, which is definitely necessary after a long run in the hot summer months!
This trail can also be accessed through the parking lot at Alford Arms.
Lake Overstreet Trail
The unspoiled natural beauty of North Florida can be found on the Lake Overstreet Trails. These hilly paths are ideal for hikers, runners, or mountain bikers.
The main trail is an approximate five-mile, double-loop, path that winds through hardwood forests and around Lake Overstreet. There is also a two-mile loop located near the top at the entrance from Forest Meadows. It should be noted that there are mildly uneven surfaces and tree roots on the bottom loop.
Visitors may access park trails by way of the main park entrance to Maclay Gardens or at the northwest boundary by parking at the city of Tallahassee’s Forest Meadows Athletic Center on Meridian Road. From the Forest Meadows entrance you will cross Meridian Road to enter.
A small fee is required to use the Lake Overstreet Trails with honor fee stations are located at each of the entrances.
Lake Overstreet is a superb example of a pristine freshwater lake. This lake is one of the last remaining lakes in Leon County with a completely undeveloped shoreline. It provides important habitat for freshwater fish, otters, alligators, turtles, osprey, bald eagles, wading birds and migratory waterfowl. Gently sloping hills and ravines characterize the uplands portion of the property. The forest is a mixed pine-hardwood community with loblolly and shortleaf pines, live oaks, sweet gum, magnolias and dogwood trees. In one upper portion of the park, the steep ravines are an uncommon natural feature in the Tallahassee area. The woods throughout the park are prime habitat for white-tailed deer, gray fox and bobcat.
It should be noted, that the Lake Overstreet Trails connect to several more miles of trails in Elinor Klapp-Phipps Park off Meridian Road, so you can easily put together a daylong adventure.
Miccosukee Canopy Greenway
Located on the East side of town, the Miccosukee Canopy Road Greenway is a popular linear park running parallel to the Miccosukee Canopy Road. Located on 500 acres the path runs approximately 6.5 miles from end to end. The main path is mostly smooth made up of gravel and crushed stone. While out on this trail you will see people of all ages hiking, running, mountain biking and horseback riding.
From flat open pastures to hilly and wooded, this trail (and numerous side trails) offers a variety of challenges for beginner to intermediate skill levels.
Most of the trail cuts through groves of hardwood and pine, intermittent pastures offer a change of scenery. This linear park sits on land preserved from old plantations, that earlier provided pasture for cattle as well as grounds for quail-hunting.
There is a total of four trailheads. A small parking lot can be found off Fleischmann Road, about 0.6 miles from its intersection with Miccosukee Canopy Road. Additional parking with water and bathrooms can be found on Miccosukee Road at Edenfield and Thornton Road. There is additional parking at the east end at Crump road. For those with Horse Trailers, the largest parking lot is at Thornton Road.
Miccosukee Road is one of 9 canopy roads in Tallahassee. Most of these canopy roads were originally Native American trails. They later were used by Spanish explorers and then American settlers.
Apalachee Regional Park
For those looking for a challenge, look no further than Apalachee Regional Park, which is one of the nation’s few sites designed specifically for cross country running competitions. In fact, it is the site of the 2021 NCAA Cross Country National Championships.
When the park is not being used for a running event, it is open to the general public for hiking, running, and biking. There are a number of different course options to choose from, as well as a variety of surfaces, so you prepare for any type of race, from flat roads, to rocky terrains.
Tallahassee Parks Perfect for Outdoor Activities
St. Marks Trail
Florida State University Reservation
Tom Brown Park
The Tom Brown facilities are impressive. Besides the playground, you’ll find tennis courts, baseball fields, a dirtbike course, frisbee golf course, running trails around gorgeous Piney-Z lake, and public restrooms (which are needed because it’s easy to spend an entire day out there).
Tom Brown is also where the city celebrates Independence Day. Local residents gather together for a festival during the day, and to watch the fireworks display once the sun goes down.
Mission San Luis
3 Best Parks for a Picnic
Chain of Parks
Located in downtown Tallahassee, along Park Avenue and running from S. Boulevard Street to S. Meridian Street, residents can enjoy a romantic stroll or a picnic at any of the unique parks that make up the city’s Chain of Parks. On the weekends, locals head to the Farmers Market for fresh produce, jellies, jams, and baked goods. Of course, visitors and residents alike come out each year for the LeMoyne Chain of Parks festival, which is one of the top Fine Arts Shows in the nation. It is traditionally held each year in April.
While Maclay Gardens is great for a picnic any time of the year, residents particularly enjoy the Moon Over Maclay Jazz Concert. Locals bring a picnic blanket, lawn chairs, and their beverage of choice, and sit back and let the smooth sounds take them away while enjoying the peaceful garden backdrop.
Dorothy B. Oven
If you’re looking for a magical winter wonderland, look no further than Dorothy B Oven. While not a picnic per se, locals love to spend the holiday season walking around the park with a steaming mug of hot chocolate or apple cider to check out the 250,000+ twinkling lights and enjoy the Christmas carols.