Tourists love Tallahassee and we should too – Jay Revell

“We just don’t have places like this where we are from!”

I can’t stop thinking about that line which was said to me by a nice lady visiting Tallahassee from South Florida. I ran into her and her family last week while I was out walking my dog Leon in Myers Park. She said, “There’s something about these trees and homes that we can’t help but visit anytime we come here.”

I noticed these visitors a few blocks from my house on a Saturday morning. Along with her husband and daughter, the nice lady was taking pictures in front of one of the historic homes that cover our neighborhood. Taking pictures always blows a tourist’s cover.

Maybe it’s my Chamber of Commerce DNA or all the years I spent working at the visitor center, but when I see the tell-tale signs of a wandering tourist, I can’t help but interject. As they were gazing through their camera, I approached and asked what brought them to town.

Turns out their daughter was coming back to FSU for Law School after taking a year away post-graduation. They told me they had taken many trips to Tallahassee over the years and during that period discovered our neighborhood. “We never miss an opportunity to come take a walk here and see all these amazing places,” she said.

Naturally, I shared a few stories with them. I told them the history of Old Fort Park, pointed out the three rogue geese that run the avian mob at Evans Pond Park, and of course told a few tall tales about Hernando De Soto and America’s First Christmas. I also showed them how to pull up the Myers Park Historic walking tour – which they had never seen before (go check it out sometime if you haven’t either).

They were delighted to learn more about our unique little hamlet in the city and before I knew it, we had been chatting for half an hour. Leon, waiting patiently, has seen many of our walks go sideways in a similar manner. Few things excite me like an eager to listen tourist in Tallahassee.

Before we parted ways, I pointed out one more interesting detail about a tree they had been infatuated with. I showed them a small, weathered sign hanging off this majestic live oak. In faded green letters, it says “Patriarch Oak – Growing in 1824 City Founding.” It was a good segue to tell them about our bicentennial celebration this year and all the other reasons they should come back and see us soon. With big smiles, they thanked me for the tips and carried on with their exploration of the streets Leon and I walk every day.

As we got back to our normal route, I couldn’t help but smile myself. I thought, “how lucky am I to live in a place that others are wowed by?” I’m not just talking about Myers Park either. Tallahassee is a magical place to many who visit here and the more chances we give ourselves to see that same truth the better.

As we got down to Evans Pond, I slowed Leon down and pulled out my phone to take a few photos of some gorgeous wood ducks that were making wake on the water that morning. Those rogue geese were keeping an eye on us too. Sitting on a bench in the warm winter sunshine, we just took in all the beauty and charm around us. Most people just don’t get to do that where they are from.

Jay Revell is president and chief storyteller at Revell Media, a branding and marketing agency in Tallahassee.