I am not a big fan of theme parks. They’re too crowded, too plastic and too fake. I’m always looking for a better alternative for my kids. I really enjoy smaller, natural places with soul… preferably off the beaten path. I can relax, enjoy the walk, and I don’t need to worry about losing sight of my kids in the crowds. I love it when they’re able to explore on their own.
Since moving to Miami, it’s been difficult to find alternatives to expensive destinations like Magic Kingdom, Legoland, Wet n Wild and other similar theme parks. Until I found a gem: Flamingo Gardens in Florida’s Broward County, near Ft Lauderdale.
Flamingo Gardens is a true urban oasis. The minute you walk in, you can smell, breathe and feel the rainforest surrounding you. It is perfect for families, kids and adults.
You can take a stroll in the shade under the green canopy, surrounded by multi-color butterflies, with the background music of birds singing. It’s such a great place to escape from the sun worshippers and the night owls parading around Biscayne Boulevard.
Nature is the only true medicine to modern living. It has a calming and de-stressing effect for both adults and kids, no question about it. And it’s only about a 40 minute drive from Miami, which is a huge plus.
Flamingo Gardens is a 60-acre, not-for-profit wildlife sanctuary, aviary, zoo and botanical garden located just west of Fort Lauderdale. Interesting fact: Founders Floyd and Jane Wray, an adventurous couple who came to South Florida in 1925, purchased 320 acres of land at 50 cents an acre all around (and including) Long Key in the Everglades. They were deeply intrigued with horticulture and the possibilities with subtropical locale.
Floyd & Jane were true explorers, riding their horses from their home in Hollywood, FL to get to their weekend home in Davie (about 10 miles). I can almost hear it: “Where we’re going, we don’t need roads!” Can you imagine the bugs, the heat, humidity, swamps and alligators?!
It’s home to the largest collection of Florida-native wildlife including alligators, bobcats, eagles, otters, panthers, peacock, and of course, flamingos. It’s also one of the oldest botanical gardens in South Florida featuring 20 “Champion” trees, the largest one of their species, including the largest tree in Florida. Specialized gardens, including a Butterfly and Hummingbird Garden, Croton Garden, and Bromeliad Garden dot the main Arboretum.
The centerpiece of the gardens is a natural hammock of 200 year-old Live Oaks dripping with species orchids and epiphytes. I highly recommend their narrated tram tours that will take you around the 60 acres in less than 35 minutes. They host special events throughout the year.
The original Wray house is very well preserved with its original furniture and decorations. Go back in time and forget the hectic South Florida feel by coming to Flamingo Gardens.
$18 Age 12+, $10 Ages 4-11, Ages 3 and under are free. Members admitted free.
Narrated Tram Tours are additional. $4 Adults, $3 Children 4-11. Children 3 and under, and Members of Flamingo Gardens ride free. For more info, visit: www.flamingogardens.org
*Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post. Photo credit: Simonds