Retirees in this sunny city play a vital community role.

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Alfred B. Maclay Gardens State Park attracts visitors with serene vistas like this one.
Michael Titus/Florida State Parks

Tallahassee is home to a large community college and two major universities—Florida State and Florida A&M, one of the leading Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU). Along with lots of high-level sports from both of Tallahassee’s big colleges, locals enjoy something extra from Florida A&M—performances by the Marching 100, one of the world’s most innovative and influential marching bands.

Railroad Square Craft House is part grub pub, part entertainment venue.
Lydia Belle

Both universities and the community college offer classes, events, and other opportunities for enrichment to those with free time and a desire to grow and learn. And the learning goes both ways. The AARP recently partnered with a shared workspace named Domi to create an innovation incubator program called Third Act, which taps into the expertise of people 50 and older.

Despite a population nearing 195,000, Tallahassee has a small-town feel, thanks to its Panhandle location away from the sprawl of Central and South Florida. The climate is mild year-round, the Gulf’s white-sand beaches are just 40 minutes to the south, and golfers here can always get a tee time.

Leon County, home to Tallahassee, has a number of “canopy roads” that are now protected by law.
Jeffrey Isaac Greenberg/Alamy

Given these and other selling points (including the fact that Florida has no state income tax), Tallahassee has always been a popular place to retire, but the city and its civic leaders are pouring energy into attracting aging baby boomers. “We have one of the nation’s best parks-and-recreation departments,” says Gregg Patterson, who’s executive director of Choose Tallahassee, a nonprofit organization promoting the city as a relocation destination. “You can play pickleball and also take free lifelong-learning classes.” 

You’re more likely to find Patterson taking a stroll than playing pickleball. He and his wife have walked across Spain, Portugal, and Scotland, and he leads Move Tallahassee, a thriving local walking group. He says he’s nearing retirement himself and is happy he won’t have to move. “I came here to go to Florida State in the 1970s and never left. After four children and four grand-children, I’m here for good,” he says.