Alfred B. Maclay Gardens – Tallahassee, Florida

A few weeks ago, I took my two children on a short solo road trip to Jacksonville, Florida.  Tallahassee is the perfect spot for a bathroom and stretch break.  It is about half way to Jacksonville and there are plenty of gas stations and places to eat.  Unfortunately, whenever we make this drive we always make the mistake of getting off at the same miserable exit.  This exit, which I believe is Capital Circle, is like the Bermuda Triangle.  There are tons of gas stations and restaurants but it is very difficult to get across the many lanes of traffic.  Once you are in the parking lot of one of these places, you can’t get back to the Interstate without turning around five times.  It is not one of those exits where you pull off, pump your gas and hop back on with ease!  On this trip though, we found a hidden treasure.

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I had packed our lunch for this trip in an effort to avoid McDonald’s and save a few bucks, but when I pulled off at the Capitol Circle exit I wasn’t quite sure what to do and where to stop.  Out of the corner of my eye I spotted a trademark brown state park sign pointing the way to the Alfred B. Maclay Gardens.  I keep our Real Florida Passport in my car at all times so if an opportunity to stop at another state park comes up, we can add to our collection of passport stamps.  I couldn’t find much about Alfred B. Maclay except that he was a New York financier and he and his wife planted these gardens after they purchased the property for their winter escape.  Unfortunately it was too late in the blooming season to see the beautiful camelias and azaleas, but the garden is full of gorgeous plant life displaying ever different shade of green.

We only saw one other family walking through the gardens.  The kids were able to run around and I was able to enjoy a short walk before we finished the last leg of our trip.  My favorite part of the visit was coming upon this:

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One of my favorite books to read when I was little was The Secret Garden.  The garden in this book was the first thing that came to mind when we saw this little gate hidden away.  Unfortunately the gate was locked since it was the off season, but we were able to peek in and see this amazing garden.

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The gardens are full of these wonderful bricked pathways. 

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There is a main path that winds down to the house and off of that path you see smaller brick paths that disappear into dirt pathways.  Guests are welcome to explore these spots as well.

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As you meander down the paths, you come across all sorts of things hidden in the foilage.  The kids and I sat here for a few minutes watching the birds fly over the water.

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Once you get to the end of the pathway, you arrive at the house.  The house is open to the public during blooming season, which is January 1 to April 30.  I was suprised at how modest the house looked compared to the expansive gardens and property.

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We also saw a Reflection Pool and a beautiful little pond which I imagine is amazing during the blooming season.

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My children loved spotting these little black caterpillars everywhere they looked!

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Be sure to drop by Photo Friday at Delicious Baby to check out all the other great photos from around the world world.

Tallahassee Family Travel Tips


  1. 1

    Beautiful pit stop! We’ll have to remember this for future trips between Jacksonville and Louisiana. Tallahassee is always a stopping point for us. You should submit this post to Pitstops for Kids.

  2. 2

    What a great find! Sometimes, the best stop is the one unplanned. 🙂

  3. 3

    Sounds like you need to make a return trip when the flowers are in bloom!
    This looks like such a great place to walk and take photos.

  4. 4

    I wish California had passports like the National Parks andFlorida do. I love getting our stamps in our books and checking a destination off our list!

  5. 5

    This landscape looks much nicer than southern Florida, the old homestead and spanish moss, drinking iced tea ( or coffee) on th front porch, while the kids haev fun in the garden. I’m right there with you.

  6. 6

    beautiful! i love the secret gardens, too. thanks for sharing this!

  7. 7

    What a beautiful place!

  8. 8

    Very Beautiful. Gardens are so much fun to shoot.

  9. 9

    Looks very southern (I’m saying this with a deep southern accent:) i love trees that offer private standing rooms.

  10. 10

    What a beautiful hidden garden. It is always so fun to have a special garden all to yourselves to explore.

  11. 11

    LOVE the drippy trees – I only just learned a few years ago that it’s moss!

  12. 12

    The photo of the reflection pool is amazing. Clean, cool, sharp colors with the kids at the forefront. Love it!

  13. 13

    Lucia-I will definitely look into submitting it to PitStops For Kids. Thanks for the info. Where in LA are you coming from? If you are ever in Pensacola, let me know!
    Amy-I often joke around with my mom about how some of our best trip memories are from when we got lost!
    Dominique – I have added it to our list of things to do in the spring. There were some pictures of the gardens in bloom at the park and they were amazing!
    Sharlene-I LOVE getting my FL park Passport stamped. I didn’t know the National Parks had one too…I am going to have to look into getting one of them!
    Cate-This is definitely a “drink ice tea on the porch” kind of place…or maybe a mint julep!
    Jessie and Linda-It was beautiful…my pictures do not do it justice!
    Tim-I do love to shoot gardens, but I need to remember my macro lens next time!
    Marina-Very southern-those big majestic magnolias!
    Bridget-It was so nice being able to run and have a grand time without worrying about who we were bothering.
    HaveBabyWillTravel-I am fascinated with the moss on the trees-I have to take pictures of drippy trees whenever I see them!
    Lorraine- The reflection pool was one of the kid’s favs. I loved how it pointed straight to the lake!

  14. 14

    nice place to visit with family and with kids. and if u want your kids to be interacted with nature than u must visit the garden, as it appears to be a very beautiful and well organized.


  1. […] on the grounds before we got back on the road.” Read a more extensive review about this pitstop HERE at Jennifer’s site. She also blogs about her hometown of Pensacola at Pensacola with […]

  2. […] my submission about the Afred B. Maclay Gardens State Park is located here.  You can read the full post on my blog here.  Do you have a review of your own?  Submit it […]