Tourists sometimes have travel hobbies. Somechase the Great Dames of the hotel world withthe enthusiasm of butterfly collectors. Somehead for the highest points in North America. Otherswant to check out every state capital, perhaps anticipatingthe day they'll be contestants on
Those latter tourists risk being disappointed. RapidCity, SD, is much more interesting than the capitalPierre. Portsmouth, NH, has a lot more going for it thanConcord. And what Anthony Trollop wrote in 1862about Kentucky is still true, "Frankfort is the capital,and is as quietly dull a little town as I ever entered."
However, visitors to Florida's capital of Tallahassee(800-628-2866; www.seetallahassee.com) are likely tocome away pleased, unless they come to the SunshineState in pursuit of Mickey or that perfect beach withsand like talcum powder. Tallahassee benefits from itsown relative obscurity. Unless you arrive during legislativeseason, the roads are clear and parking is easy, therestaurants are inexpensive, the hotels are a good value,and Tallahassee's many superb museums are generallysafe from mobs of people.
At the Old Capitol Museum (850-487-1902; dhr.dos.state.fl.us/flafacts/oldcapitol.html), it's a bit unusual toobserve the reverence shown to Florida's previous legislators,especially in these days when the public is so cynicalabout its politicians. However, historian Andrew N. Edelsays, "We're also the Museum of Florida Political History.It's our mission to inspire people to become moreinvolved in the political process." Mission accomplished.You leave with a better understanding of politics.
Other museums are nearby. The Mary BroganMuseum of Art and Science (850-513-0700; www.thebrogan.org) offers interactive exhibits especially gearedto children, and, a few blocks over, the Museum of FloridaHistory (850-488-1484; dhr.dos.state.fl.us/museum)further captivates kids with its 9-foot mastodon skeleton,dioramas of life before the Spanish came, and goldexhibits from galleon wrecks. The adjacent ChallengerLearning Center (850-645-7827; www.challengertlh.com) presents a full-dome planetarium and an IMAXtheater, and an easy walk leads to the Knott HouseMuseum (850-922-2459; www.taltrust.org/knott.htm),whose eccentric owner wrote poetry to her furniture inthe 1930s. A glance at the ditties on labels suggests thatWilliam Wordsworth had nothing to worry about.
There's more entertainment for families with cars,which you definitely need for a true Tallahassee vacation.Within a half-hour drive are the TallahasseeMuseum of History and Natural Science (850-575-8684; www.tallahasseemuseum.org), with 52 acres ofnature trails, aviary, and zoo, and 1880 farm homesteads;and the Wakulla Springs State Park (850-224-5950; www.floridastateparks.org), where riverboatsglide on one of the world's deepest freshwater springssurrounded by Florida's abundant wildlife. Also wortha drive is Goodwood Museum and Gardens (850-877-4202; www.goodwoodmuseum.org), whose Italianatemansion is one of the most elaborate antebellum homesin Florida. Just over the state line in Thomasville, Ga,is the stunning Pebble Hill Plantation.
Tucker: The Manand His Dream
An unexpected delight in Tallahassee is its AntiqueCar Museum, which houses 80 rare cars, including a1929 Auburn, 1931 Duesenberg, 1936 Cord, and a fewHollywood vehicles, such as two Batmobiles and theTucker from the Jeff Bridges movie . Their interesting antique showroomoverflows like grandma's attic, with bric-a-brac fromgrand pianos to cigar store Indians.
Reasonably priced food is available at a wealth oflocal stops, including the long-established Bradley'sCountry Store (850-893-1647; www.bradleyscountrystore.com). Hotels range from the 116-room Radisson,with a room-service breakfast priced at only $4.95, tothe downtown Governors Inn (850-681-6855; www.thegovinn.com), which has only 40 rooms—there may notbe one available if the politicians are in session.