Natural Wonder Meets Old Florida at Tallahassee Museum

Photos and Text by Kelsey Walters

The holidays are over, winter break has come to an end, and life is returning to normal after the excitement (and chaos) of the season. If you find yourself in a wintertime rut after all the hustle and bustle searching for something to do, I have just the thing. 

Concord Schoolhouse and Bethlehem Missionary Baptist Church at Tallahassee Museum

Unlike the rest of the country huddling inside away from the cold, we Floridians thrive in the outdoors during the winter months. Tallahassee Museum is the perfect place to get outdoors and explore, all while learning more about our great state’s history. Getting back into the swing of learning can be tough after a long break from school, but the museum makes the experience interactive and packed with fun. 

Seaboard Railroad caboose at Tallahassee Museum

Tallahassee Museum combines history, nature and wildlife in a unique way that is unlike your typical museum. While the 52-acre property is quite large and packed with things to do, you’ll find yourself relaxed and taking your time to explore. Here you’ll find a taste of 100-percent natural Florida in their half-mile nature trail. 

Nature trail walk at Tallahassee Museum

Stroll the wildlife trail on elevated boardwalks through habitats of native Florida animals for an up-close encounter. We met the likes of some of our region’s most famous inhabitants including the black bear, plenty of deer, red and grey foxes, bobcats and even the incredibly rare Florida panther, who was lounging in his oversized kitty hammock in the afternoon sun. 

Florida panther in wildlife walk at Tallahassee Museum

We spent a lot of time visiting with the red wolves, the most endangered wild animal in the United States. All of the museum’s wildlife ambassadors live, or once lived, natively in Florida’s Big Bend region. Now calling the museum home, these creatures are unable to live in the wild due to injury or other restrictions and help to educate visitors on the importance of our native species. 

Avery and guest animal dingo at Tallahassee Museum

Outside of Floridian inhabitants, the museum also hosts regularly rotating “Guest Animals” from around the world. On exhibit now are a pair of very playful dingoes, Australia’s first wild canine. Avery had a blast interacting with the pair who would run up to the window to greet her every time we stopped by. 

Further along the trail, you’ll find artist Jim Gary’s famed dinosaur sculptures dotting the waterfront landscape. The museum is now home to Gary’s largest collection of dinosaurs made from reclaimed auto parts that were first brought to life in 1979. 

Jim Gary dinosaur sculpture at Tallahassee Museum

Stop at the Big Bend Farm for a day on the homestead in the rural 1880s of Florida. The authentic farm buildings, complete with farm animals, display a simpler time in our history. The surrounding area exhibits other industries that served to pioneer the state, such as blacksmithing and milling. If you’re lucky, you can catch a demonstration of the tools of the trade like we did when we stopped at the blacksmith. 

Blacksmith working on Big Bend Farm at Tallahassee Museum

The other end of the property displays a step back into Old Florida, during the mid-1800s to early-1900s. The centerpiece Bellevue Plantation, once owned by a French princess by marriage, is open to explore and get a taste of plantation living. Nearby, you’ll find the contrasting lives of those enslaved on the plantation with the Bethlehem Missionary Baptist Church – the first regularly organized Black church in Florida, lovingly restored by its congregation in 1937 and moved for preservation to the museum. 

Avery in Concord Schoolhouse at Tallahassee Museum

The Concord Schoolhouse, built in the 1870s to educate children of former enslaved people, sits next door. Avery spent a lot of time exploring this area, going to “class” in the one-room schoolhouse and hopping aboard the Seaboard railroad caboose, which was formerly used across North Florida to move cash crops to market. 

Bellvue Plantation at Tallahassee Museum

There is something for every age to explore here, from a huge wooden play structure for kids to the Tree-to-Tree Adventures in the canopy above. The Canopy Crossing extends through a large portion of the museum and consists of 14 obstacles, 25 platforms and seven ziplines – all in the treetops overhead.

Tree to Tree Adventures at Tallahassee Museum

The Soaring Cypress route doubles the course to include Canopy Crossing, plus a grand total of 16 ziplines! Little adventurers (41 to 60 inches tall) can explore the smaller Treemendous Adventures. Even though our day was full of adventure, we had such a relaxing time after the holidays. We couldn’t get enough of Tallahassee Museum, and know you will love it, too! 

Florida native red wolf in wildlife walk at Tallahassee Museum


3945 Museum Drive, Tallahassee 32310 

(850) 575-8684

FB: @TallahasseeMuseum 

Insta: @TallahasseeMuseum 

Hours and Admission:

Mon – Sat: 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.; Sun: 11 a.m. – 5 p.m. 

$14.50/adult; $10/child ages 4-15 (3 and under free); $13.50/ senior 

Tree-to-Tree Adventures: $19 – $50 (purchase as combo ticket online with admission and save!)

All photos taken by Kelsey Walters, property of East Coast Current

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