Road Trips

By KARA FRANKER

Southeast Florida offers an abundance of family-friendly attractions, many showcasing the Sunshine State’s unique ecosystem and wildlife.

In the Florida Keys, the Mel Fisher Maritime Museum in Key West displays gold, silver and treasures recovered from sunken wrecks, while Dolphin Research Center and The Turtle Hospital in Marathon invite the whole family to get up close and personal with sea life. Florida Keys Aquarium Encounters, a conservation center also located in Marathon, conducts guided park tours as well as tarpon and shark feedings. At the Florida Keys History & Discovery Center in Islamorada, enjoy an interactive historical experience through a permanent model of Indian Key, once the Florida Keys’ second largest community outside of Key West only accessible by private boat or kayak.

The Florida Everglades is where naturalists and adventurers can spot alligators on airboat tours and learn about the Miccosukee Native American Tribe’s unique way of life at the Miccosukee Village.

5 MUST SEE ATTRACTIONS
  1. Boca Raton Historical Society and Museum: bocahistory.org
  2. Dry Tortugas National Park: drytortugas.com
  3. Gumbo Limbo Nature Center: gumbolimbo.org
  4. Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens: morikami.org
  5. Phillip and Patricia Frost Museum of Science: frostscience.org
For more exciting animal encounters, visit Zoo Miami just north of Homestead, Monkey Jungle south of the zoo, Jungle Island in downtown Miami and the Miami Seaquarium in Key Biscayne. At the Seaquarium, visitors enjoy the Penguin Isle, a habitat for African penguins, which can be viewed above and below water in a 9,000-gallon pool. Boasting an impressive collection of rare plants and flowers, as well as a sprawling tropical oasis, Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden hosts special events like the International Mango Festival and International Orchid Festival.

The Phillip and Patricia Frost Museum of Science is located in Downtown Miami’s Maurice A. Ferré Park. The 250,000-square-foot facility includes a planetarium, aquarium and science museum.

Head to ArtsPark at Young Circle in downtown Hollywood to enjoy a 10-acre interactive park complete with a children’s play area. Flamingo Gardens Botanical Gardens and Everglades Wildlife Sanctuary offers 60 acres of diverse native plants and trees, a Bird of Prey Center with a free-flight aviary, and the chance to view alligators, flamingos, bobcats and Florida panthers. For a mix of ecology, history and architecture, the Bonnet House Museum & Gardens in Fort Lauderdale is a 36-acre estate preserving a piece of Old Florida charm. While in Fort Lauderdale, hop on board the Jungle Queen for a sightseeing cruise. Then, check out more than 20,000 butterflies from around the globe at Butterfly World in Coconut Creek, one of the world’s largest butterfly parks.

Visit the Arthur R. Marshall Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge in Boynton Beach for guided marsh tours, bird walks, canoe trips and more. Become part of the herd at Lion Country Safari in Loxahatchee, a drive-through adventure where you can check out more than 1,000 animals including giraffes, lions, zebras and monkeys. Nearby, the South Florida Science Center and Aquarium includes a planetarium, theatre, one-of-a-kind 18-hole Conservation Miniature Golf Course designed by Gary Nicklaus and Jim Fazio, the recently completed quarter-mile science trail along with many educational programs.

At the Palm Beach Zoo Flamingo Experience, visitors ages five and up are welcome to mix and mingle with pink Chilean flamingos.

Providing the opportunity to see endangered sea turtles and other marine life up close, the Loggerhead Marinelife Center in Juno Beach is a hospital for injured sea turtles where visitors learn about Florida’s marine life and the ecosystem. An on-site playground and a series of educational programs can keep guests entertained for hours, or families can hop across the street to picturesque Juno Beach.