While Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de Leon set foot on Florida’s shores elsewhere in 1513, Tallahassee emerged as one of the New World’s most significant early settlements and played a central role in Spanish Colonial history. Tallahassee showcases the site of the first Christmas celebration in North America and Florida’s only fully restored Spanish mission.
Spanish Colonial Florida
Explore Florida’s history and heritage through historical records and archival collections including the Spanish land grants, private manuscripts, photographs and other historically significant records. Open Monday – Friday 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. FREE.
This is the site of the first North American Christmas celebration and the only confirmed De Soto expedition site in the United States. The Hernando De Soto expedition camped here from 1539-1540, during its first winter in North America. Located at the Governor Martin House, Open daily during daylight hours. FREE.
In the late 1600s Mission San Luis de Apalachee was the western capital of the Spanish Mission system in Florida. This National Historic Landmark is the only reconstructed Spanish Mission in Florida offering artifacts uncovered at the original site, costumed living history interpreters, hands-on exhibits and re-created period buildings. Open Tuesday – Sunday 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Admission: $5 for adults; $3 seniors (65 and over); $2 children (6-17); Active Duty Military FREE with ID.
Opened in 1977 as the state’s history museum, it houses exhibits and artifacts covering Florida’s history and prehistory. More than 40,000 artifacts and permanent exhibits span periods from the prehistoric mastodon to the Space Age. The newest exhibit, Phase II of Forever Changed, chronicles a dynamic period in history - from the meeting and interaction of vastly different native and European cultures to Florida's adoption as a United States territory and eventually a state.
Short Drive Away
Fort Gadsden, also known as the Negro Fort, reflects the cultural diversity of Florida during the Second Spanish Period. This National Historic Landmark along the banks of the Apalachicola River houses many interpretive exhibits and artifacts. Open daily during daylight hours. FREE.
This National Historic Landmark is where Panfilo de Narvaez arrived in the area with 300 men in 1528. Located at the confluence of the Wakulla and St. Marks Rivers, the Spanish built the original fort in 1679 to protect the Spanish missions in the area. Open daily from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Park entrance FREE. Museum admission $2. Children 5 and younger, FREE.