Location: Tallahassee, Florida
Description: An intersection of North Florida’s history, culture and nature is the objective of the Tallahassee Museum. This outdoors museum is divided up into multiple exhibits for each of these. Included are Big Bend Farm that consists of farm house, barn, carriage house, outhouse, blacksmith, smokehouse, garden, and farm animals. Old Florida and beyond that consists of a hodgepodge of art, natural science, and animals. Natural Florida that is a small zoo of some of Florida’s unique birds, mammals, and reptiles including a black bear, red wolf, Florida panther, bobcat, alligator, white-tailed deer, river otter, fox, skunk, vultures, and bald eagles in their natural (and restrictive) habitat. Old Florida which consists of 1800 schoolhouse, church, caboose, and the Bellevue Plantation house. Over all of the park is the Tree to Tree Adventures which consists of 3 courses of combined zip lines and challenging bridges. The TreeMendous course is specifically for young children consisting of short zips and bridges built low to the ground.
1) The most impressive feature of the park was the Tree to Tree Adventure courses. These zip lines and bridges soar over nearly all of the park and would be a lot of fun. However, these courses were not open when we were there, whether due to the weather or the fact it was early March we did not bother to figure out. It would have been a different experience soaring over the cypress swamp.
2) The farm exhibit was more complete than most I have seen and would have been more interesting during the summer when they have live demonstrations all day long.
3) The nature path and swamp boardwalk were a nice addition, especially with the standing art work of brightly painted dinosaurs made out of old automobile parts. Quite impressive to see these depictions of the animals in similar swampy habitat, although they were greatly scaled down in size. We were also treated to the call and sighting of a Barred Owl actually outside the cages!
4) I really liked the zoo exhibits, even if they were barely large enough to be called “natural habitats”. At least they were not cages with concrete reproduction of the habitat. I hope this is the only time I get to see some of these animals as I would not want to meet a Florida panther outside the cage! The bird enclosure was also nice because we were able to get very close to a bald eagle. Finally, the guest exhibit of the Sun Bears from China was interesting. The two bears were siblings and like all siblings got into a playfull scuffle while were watching. The way they can easily stand and walk on their hind legs was very impressive, especially since they rarely come out of their trees in the wild.
5) Finally, the Bellevue plantation was interesting as well. Much more modest then a lot of plantation homes of the era, it was the home of Catherine Murat, a great grandniece of George Washington and a princess by marriage to Napoleon’s nephew, Achille Murat. It was also the first time I had seen a caboose that was not strip bare of all the furnishings. Since these were actually small houses on wheels for the conductor and brakeman, they had not only a stove, but an icebox as well.