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Day 162: Thumb through the pages at My Favorite Books

11 Jun

Used-book stores are inviting places to visit in any city. Predictably, they have a familiar, used-book odor, narrow passageways, and high shelves laden with a few literary greats and a greater number of throwaway novels. I consider them safe harbors away from outdoor noise, electronic gadgetry and whatever else that might be bothering you. They heighten the senses, and I like to stroll through them with a cup of coffee in hand. Tallahassee has several decent used book stores, and my favorite is properly named My Favorite Books. In business for more than 14 years, the store is in the Market Square Shopping Center. Inside the doorway are four long rows of high bookshelves, and a fancifully catalogued collection of gently used books. There are several chairs throughout the store for casual reading breaks, and in the back is a playful cubbyhole area featuring children’s books. Most paperbacks sell for half their original list, and hard-cover books are individually priced based on their condition and popularity. They buy books, offering only store credit for purchases. After casually thumbing through pages in the stores for 30 minutes or so on this hot Saturday afternoon, my daughter and I bought two sturdy hard covers for $18. They’re open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and on Sunday, the hours are 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. — Mark Hollis

LOCATION:  1415 Timberlane Road (Market Square)

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Day 116: Visit the Riley House Museum

26 Apr

The Riley House is the African-American version of the Knott House. The 1890-built house sits in downtwon Tallahassee across from the Republican Party headquarters. It was the home of John Riley, a prominent Tallahassee resident who was born into slavery and ended up becoming principal of what is now Lincoln High. At the time, his home was in the black middle-class neighborhood of Smokey Hollow. Riley devoted his life to making sure other African-Americans in the city received an education. The home itself is filled with antiques and mementos about Riley’s life, with a temporary exhibit on African-Americans in the Civil War, for instance. I really loved this museum in part because it appealed to my love of underdogs. I get the sense that the Riley House doesn’t get many visitors as the similar Knott House. The museum is free, though of course they welcome donations. Their hours are Monday-Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Address: 419 East Jefferson

Day 94: Visit the Tallahassee Automobile Museum

4 Apr

I’m the furthest thing from a car enthusiast, but I was blown away by the goodies inside the Tallahassee Automobile Museum. The museum houses the collection of Florida State University graduate DeVoe Moore, and is home to dozens of beautiful, shiny restored cars from Ford’s Model T all the way up to more modern, sexy sport cars. Walking through the museum’s mirrored showroom is like stepping back in time, with each car reminiscent of the era it came from. One of his most amazing pieces is the 1894 Duryea. It looks like a crumbling wooden carriage with an engine attached. This was the first gas-powered vehicle ever made and according to the museum, the Smithsonian has the only other 1894 Duryea, valued at more than $1 million. I was duly impressed, too, by Moore’s collection of Batmobiles. He has several Batmobiles that were used in filming some of the actual Batman movies. If you are a car enthusiast, you could spend hours in there, drooling over the exposed engines and gleaming hoods of his cars. He also collects and restores pianos, sports memorabilia, pistols, Swiss army knives, Roy Rogers comics, toy cars and more. I was told that even though it is a museum, DeVoe could be persuaded to part with some of his treasures – for a price. The museum is a bit pricey. It is $16 for adults, or $13.50 for two or more, and $7.50 for kids. They also have student discounts.

Address: 6800 Mahan Drive

Day 87: Learn about Mission San Luis

29 Mar

Mission San Luis is by far one of the coolest things to see and experience in Tallahassee. It sits on top of a hill on east Tallahassee not far from Florida State University. Mission San Luis was once home to Spanish settlers and Apalachee Indians. The two formed an alliance in the 1600s and shared communities together, though each lived in their own respective homes. The neat thing about Mission San Luis is that it sits exactly in the same spot it was in about 400 years ago. Archeologists have actually dug up where the homes stood and central plaza was located. The story of the mission is, like much of history, inspiring and sorrowful. The two groups got along pretty well, with many Apalachee women marrying Spanish men because they saw it as a sign of upward mobility. Then the British began invading Florida and the Apalachee and Spanish fled, never to live together again. The Mission San Luis museum helps tell this story by recreating the homes and other buildings the Apalachees and Spanish would have shared. There is a church, fort, friar’s house and round thatched roof council room the Apalachee used for meetings. Tour guides dress the part, wearing historical clothing. We paid $5 per person, which I consider a bargain. The museum has also taken pains to make sure kids would enjoy it.

Address: 2100 West Tennessee

Day 82: Tour the Historic Capitol Museum

24 Mar

The white-columned historic old Capitol that sits in front of the new, modern 22-story Capitol building is a popular destination for tourists. The old Capitol has been restored to its 1902 version and is also a museum of Florida’s political history. Admission is free, though donations are encouraged. Each room is devoted to a different part of Florida politics, whether it’s the history of Florida’s governors, or a display of the more recent history of the 2000 presidential recall that focused so much national attention on Florida. There’s lots of cool memorabilia, from old desks to the clothing our old politicos wore. Museum officials have kept intact the rooms that used to house the Supreme Court and the House and Senate chambers. Interestingly, more tourists (and even locals) visit the old Capitol than the new, which instead of showcasing history is making it. If you want to read more about the new Capitol and why it was built, check out my Tallahassee Magazine article.

Day 73: Visit the St. Mark’s Lighthouse

14 Mar

Perched where sand meets ocean, on the edge of acres of undeveloped land, is the St. Mark’s lighthouse. It sits on the St. Mark’s Wildlife refuge. Dating back to the mid-1800s, the lighthouse became a prize in a Civil War skirmish. (The Confederacy won that particular battle). The best part about visiting the lighthouse is the land surrounding it. It is untouched Florida at its best. There are rivers of grass, swampy forests, alligators and white sand beaches. The lighthouse is not accessible, but there are walking trails nearby that can be used to access the beach. And when I say beach, I don’t mean bikinis and beach umbrellas. This is a very narrow peninsula that is best for ocean-gazing, not swimming. The wildlife refuge costs $5 per car to access, or $1 if you’re on a bike or two feet.

Address: 1255 Lighthouse Road, St. Mark’s

Day 66: Watch a Civil War re-enactment

7 Mar

I thought watching a Civil War re-enactment might help me get in touch with the pulse of the South. Albeit, I was a bit apprehensive because the ritual struck me as a potential tacet endorsement of stubborn Confederate ideals, such as secession, states’ rights, or slavery. I watched a re-enactment of the March 6, 1865 Natural Bridge skirmish between Confederate and Union forces southeast of Tallahassee. Ear-splitting booms of cannons and the cracks of rifles  could be heard miles away. Though the audience and participants were predominantly white, I was pleasantly surprised to see black participants in the re-enactment, but only on the Union side. (I later learned this is the first year for black reenactors at the annual event). The re-enactment itself was blessedly short and the men in it seemed to enjoy the excuse to fire off rifles for an hour. The most exciting part was when a dummy soldier in a tree exploded and then proceeded to catch fire. (A Union soldier put it out). If you need to stock up on your Civil War-era attire and other miscellaneous items, there was a tent to purchase such things. (Anyone need a corn cob pipe made in China?) This re-enactment was free, though I donated $3 to Natural Bridge park.

Address: 7502 Natural Bridge Road