Cascades Park evolved from concept to reality because of the commitment of involved citizens and support from federal, state and local agencies, including the City of Tallahassee, Leon County Government and the Blueprint Intergovernmental Agency. Along the way, City and County leaders provided guidance and direction to Blueprint, who ultimately transformed what was once an ugly, contaminated site into Cascades Park as we know it today. The 24-acre project, which cost $30 million, is the perfect example of how the one-cent local option sales tax we pay is invested back into our community.
What do you want visitors and locals to know about Cascades Park that they may not already know?
While Cascades Park is a beautiful recreational destination, it also serves a very important function to Tallahassee. That is, it’s a stormwater management facility and is designed to flood. Prior to the construction of Cascades Park, there was heavy flooding along Franklin Boulevard and near Leon High School. When designing the park, planners cleverly camouflaged a network on underground channels, open streams and retention ponds throughout Cascades Park. This network provides flood relief to areas surrounding the park during major storm events.
How has Cascades Park grown over the years?
Since opening in 2014, the park continues to grow in popularity drawing in visitors to see popular acts that perform in the Capital Cascades Amphitheater. This past year, Grammy Award winners Peter Frampton and Alabama Shakes hit the main stage! Also, more and more events and festivals are calling Cascades Park home. From benefit walks and Summer Concert Series to Word of South and Southern Shakespeare Festivals, we’re accommodating a variety of events of all sizes and tastes.
What brings people out to Cascades Park?
We like to call Cascades Park the Central Park of Tallahassee. It’s beautiful! And, there is something for everyone. We have trails for runners, concerts for music-lovers, historical markers for history buffs, play areas for kids; everyone can find something they enjoy about Cascades Park.
At Cascades, we have nearly 2.5 miles of paved walkways. Walkers and runners frequent these trails at all times of the day, working to stay fit and maintain a healthy lifestyle. As mentioned, the outdoor concerts are phenomenal! They’re a little bit of Madison Square Garden right here in Tallahassee! The historical markers are plenty. There is the Korean War Memorial, the Prime Meridian Marker, Centennial Field and the Smokey Hollow Commemoration. Did you know that the Prime Meridian Marker is the beginning point for all land surveys in the state of Florida, and it’s the original southeast corner for Tallahassee’s first boundary? Well, it is. And, the history doesn’t stop there. At the park’s most northern point lays the Smokey Hollow Commemoration. This area stands in remembrance of the African American community that existed from its founding after the Civil War until its destruction in the 1960s. Here, you can see recreations of the small shot gun houses that used to stand nearby. Lastly, there are two areas designed specifically for kids – the Discovery Play area, which features natural climbing obstacles, and Imagination Fountain, which consists of 73 jets that randomly shoot water in the air, cooling off the most suspecting little ones. Again, everyone, we mean everyone, can find something to enjoy at Cascades.
What’s next for Cascades Park?
The next thing for Cascades Park is already here with the opening of the Cascades Capital Crossing Bridge in October. The Capital Cascades Crossing includes a multi-use trail that extends three city blocks and connects Cascades Park with FAMU Way. This trail provides connectivity for the entire area making it easily accessible by bike or on foot. Now, people can walk or bike to work, entertainment and shopping using this facility as Downtown, FSU, College Town, Gaines Street, FAMU Way, Railroad Square and Lafayette Street are all readily accessible from the trail.
The bridge itself that carries people over Monroe Street from Cascades Park to FAMU Way is something to behold. Its white canopy is a modern interpretation of our local canopy roads and is fitted with solar panels. An array of LED lights provides a beautiful display and will be used to celebrate special occasions.
Come this February, the Tallahassee Marathon will be running through the park and using the new Capital Cascades Crossing Bridge to cross over Monroe Street and onto FAMU Way.
What social media does Cascades Park use?
We use a variety of social media platforms to share all the wonderful things happening at Cascades Park. We routinely post about new features and upcoming events taking place in the park on Facebook (facebook.com/DiscoverCascades), Twitter (twitter.com/Cascades_Park) and Instagram (instagram.com/discovercascades). From time to time we’ll simply share a stunning photo that captures the essence of Cascades Park. Did we mention that Cascades Park has free Wi-Fi, too? This Wi-Fi, provided by the City of Tallahassee, comes in handy when posting to social media directly from the park. Cascades Park is the City’s first Smart Park. The City will soon extend free wireless internet access nearby to FAMU Way.
Describe Cascades Park in 5 words or less
Where Tallahassee Comes Together