In the heat of summer, Tallahassee, Fla., probably isn't high on your list of vacation destinations. But there are a surprising number of ways to have fun without breaking a sweat in this Sunshine State spot. Just five hours away by car, Tallahassee can be an affordable and enjoyable summertime location.
The center of it all
Tallahassee is the nerve center of Florida's government, and the old and new capitol buildings are great places to start your visit. Even though the Florida Legislature is out of session, the new Florida Capitol is worth a trip.
If you get a chance, head to the building's 22nd floor, which houses an observatory. Here, you can take in breathtaking views of the entire county and the Gulf of Mexico.
After touring the current Florida Capitol, walk over to the Old Capitol. History buffs will appreciate the restoration work that has been completed on the building. The Old Capitol was restored to its early 1900 American Renaissance appearance. Known as "The Pearl of Florida's Capitol Hill" for its unique white structure, the Old Capitol features red candy-striped awnings and a grand dome.
A marvelous place to visit
If you have children, don't miss the Mary Brogan Museum of Art and Science. This interactive attraction located on South Duval Street is home to a number of exhibits, including a weather forecasting center, Exploration Station, a coral reef tank, turtles and an EcoLab.
Starting today, the museum will offer the Marvelous Machines exhibit. A hit in other markets throughout the Southeast, this hands-on learning experience delights youngsters of all ages and interests.
Kids can discover the strength of pulleys and cranks with the Clever Lever and Pulley Power demonstrations.
Other indoor ideas
When it's hot outside, kids and adults alike can take advantage of more indoor offerings. Now through Aug. 11, children's day camps are available at the Challenger Learning Center. The camps, with themes including "Journey Above and Below," "Moon Madness" and "Dino Camp," are designed for participants from kindergarten to eighth grade.
Art lovers in your group shouldn't miss the Lemoyne Art Foundation.
The work of artists Sanjit Datta, Pedro Ipina, Natalia Andreeva and Eluster Richardson will be on display here through July 2.
When the sun goes down, Tallahassee's temperatures are more than manageable. Head to the city for July 4th weekend to enjoy a massive fireworks display at the city's Tom Brown Park.
In August, don't miss the Big Bend Exotic Show at the North Florida Fair Grounds. Performing exotic birds will be on display during this two-day celebration on Aug. 26 and 27.
This part of Florida is an angler's paradise, and many flock to nearby Lake Talquin. Home to bass, bluegill and shellcracker, this lake is famous for trophy-size catches.
Another angling spot is on the 100-foot fishing pier of Lake Seminole. The Apalachicola River boasts hybrid striped bass and flathead catfish. Adventurous deep-sea fishing is available on the Gulf of Mexico with plenty of red snapper, grouper and cobia.
It is possible to beat the heat and cool off outdoors. At nearby Wakulla Springs State Park, 70-degree waters refresh visitors who come to take a dip in one of the world's deepest freshwater springs.
To get an up close and personal view of the springs' vegetation, sign up for a snorkeling trip.
If you'd rather stay dry, a glass-bottom boat tour of the Wakulla River will give you a glimpse into the area's pristine waters without ever getting wet. From the comfort of the boat, you can travel up the river where alligators hang out, to the springs where fossilized mastodon bones can be seen.
The Tallahassee area is also popular with hunters. Quail, pheasant, duck and whitetail deer hunting is plentiful between Tallahassee and Thomasville.
There are more than 75 private quail hunting preserves in this area. Seasonal hunters take to the Apalachicola National Forest, where turkey, squirrel and white-tailed deer live.