For those interested in an educational vacation, a trip to the state capitol will leave you with much more than memorable vacation photos. After checking in at one of the many hotel chains in the city, start your trip at the Tours of Tallahassee Welcome Center in downtown to pick up maps and get your bearings.
Ever wonder where it all began? The Museum of Florida is full of artifacts and displays of Florida, from the Pleistocene era to the present. Learn the history of the indigenous peoples, explorers, and settlers. Trace Florida history throughout the Civil War and the 21st century. The museum is open 9am to 4:30pm Monday to Friday, 10am to 4:30pm on Saturday, and noon to 4:30pm on Sunday. Admission is free.
Walk 3 blocks to the seat of the early Florida government, Old Capitol, which has been restored to its 1902 appearance. It opened as a museum in 1982. Learn about the history and operations of Florida government. Open 9am to 4:30pm Monday to Friday, 10am to 4:30pm on Saturday, and noon to 4:30pm on Sunday. Admission is free. Next door, the New Capitol is where all Florida lawmaking takes place. Legislatures are in session from March to April and the 22nd floor observatory provides a great view of the surrounding landscape. Guided tours are given year-round.
Then head down the block to the blue stone Union Bank. Completed in 1841, it is the state’s oldest surviving bank. It opened as a museum in 1984 to display its 130-year history of financing, savings, and trust. Admission is free, but they are open by reservation only.
When the governor is not in the capitol, he resides in the governor’s mansion. Built in 1956, the elegant home is the second to sit on the property. Public tours are 30 minutes long and free of charge. Visitors will be shown the five state rooms of the mansion and the outdoor Manatee Sculpture Courtyard. Tour dates in 2005 are from February 1 to May 13 and from December 5 to December 16 on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays from 10am to noon.
Another home worth seeing is The Columns. Built in 1830 with a "nickel in every brick," the white-columned mansion is Tallahassee’s oldest surviving home, now housing the Tallahassee Chamber of Commerce.