Our family spent two weeks in Florida last month, as I’ve already mentioned. This month, I plan to blog about many of the sights we saw while we were there, starting with our very first stop in the Sunshine State: The Tallahassee Museum.
This museum is definitely a hidden gem. We missed our first exit and had to wind around a lot of back roads to get there the long way. When we first pulled into the parking lot and spotted the little visitor’s center nestled at the edge of it, we thought we would be in and out in thirty minutes.
Little did we dream that small building was the gateway to another world. Fifty-two breathtaking acres provide a stunning backdrop to about thirty permanent exhibits. Our family spent four and a half hours exploring and still didn’t see it all!
In the museum’s “Old Florida” exhibit, you can board a railcar and travel back in time to the 1800’s:
Restored historic buildings include a lovely old church…
…and a one-room school house, just waiting for a new generation of students to occupy its desks while learning something new.
The museum is also home to the beautiful Bellevue Plantation house, which is original to this site and houses period furniture …
…as well as some interactive exhibits our children especially enjoyed. This is probably the closest they’ll come to hauling buckets of water for drinking and bathing:
The lawns surrounding the plantation house were lush and green, even in January. Little wonder the grounds are a popular venue for weddings and community events.
In addition to the museum’s “Old Florida” exhibit, their half-mile Nature Trail loops through several expansive and diverse habitats, affording hikers inspiring views of flora and fauna native to the area.
The Museum (or Zoo-seum, as our tour guide liked to call it) also serves as a wildlife refuge for animals who would not survive in the wild. Many of the residents have been rescued and rehabilitated, including panthers, wolves, river otter, white-tailed deer, grey foxes, bears and alligators.
One of our favorites was a friendly little duck named Perky who, after being shot by a hunter in a neighboring town, was sent to live at the Tallahassee Museum by the hunter’s wife, who’d opened her refrigerator to discover the poor thing was still alive!
The museum is also home to Jim Gary’s 20th Century Dinosaurs.
These colorful creatures, made from abandoned automobile parts, look right at home in the swamp lands amid all towering cypress trees and tropical foliage.
Yet another fascinating exhibit at the Tallahassee Museum is Big Bend Farm.
On weekends, history comes alive with costumed interpreters demonstrating period crafts such as spinning, weaving, and candle dipping.
As a homeschool mom, this was the part that made me wish we lived closer, for in addition to its accredited preschool program, the museum sponsors a variety of educational classes for all ages, including hands-on courses in blacksmithing, gardening, cooking with herbs, quilting, and a host of other skills I’d love to learn more about alongside my children.
However, my kids favorite part of our visit (and the thing that made them wish we lived closer) was the Tree-to-Tree Adventure Course, hands down!
The adventure course is designed in such a way that once a child is hooked onto the cables, he cannot get off until his feet are safely back on the ground. That’s why we were completely comfortable letting our six-year-old daughter complete the course along with the rest of us — there was no chance of falling!
Even Mom and Dad had a blast on the course. We’re already making plans to come back for a nighttime Tree-to-Tree trek wearing headlamps. That prospect sounds amazing. Zipping across the swamps under a full moon — what adventurer wouldn’t love that?
After we came down from the trees, we took a water break in one of the museum’s picnic pavilions. At least, Mom and Dad took a break. As soon as I’d snapped this photo, the kids were off and running again, exploring the adjacent playground.
The good people at Tallahassee Museum allowed our family to visit for free as part of a US Family Guide blogger promotion, but if you happen to be in the area, you can also get free admission to Tallahassee Museum by visiting TODAY (February 11, 2017) from 9 AM to 5 PM during their annual Matinee of the Arts Day. For details on this or other community classes and events hosted at the Tallahassee Museum, please visit their events calendar.
More Travel Ideas for Families
If your family loves to go as much as mine does, check out my book Pack Up & Leave. It’s chockful of smart tips that will make your next family road trip or vacation more economical, educational, and memorable.
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