EX­PLORER Wildlife, Na­ture and FUN!

Dis­cov­er­ing Florida’s Palm Beaches, a short hop from SWFL

Gulf & Main - - Contents - BY MANDY CARTER Mandy Carter is a lo­cal mom with a pas­sion for fam­ily travel, a pop­u­lar travel blog­ger in­clud­ing her own fam­ily blog at Acup­ful.com and the Dig­i­tal Con­tent & En­gage­ment Ed­i­tor for TOTI Me­dia.

Palm Beach County stretches from the At­lantic Coast into Florida’s farm coun­try and in­cludes the north­ern edge of Ever­glades Na­tional Park. Take a short drive across the Sun­shine State to our other coast and dis­cover a des­ti­na­tion where kids can learn about an­i­mals, splash in the ocean and ex­pand their mind with na­ture.

And it’s fun for us, too.


Lion Coun­try Sa­fari is Florida’s only drive-through park to spot more than 900 an­i­mals di­vided among seven sec­tions. Drive your ve­hi­cle while lis­ten­ing to a CD in­form­ing you about the an­i­mals you may ob­serve. My daugh­ter loved see­ing the an­i­mals walk right up to our win­dow. We had a unique ex­pe­ri­ence when a group­ing of ze­bras ran along­side our car. The fun doesn’t end af­ter your hour and a half sa­fari drive; af­ter­ward you can en­joy an­i­mal dis­plays and en­coun­ters, take part in an­i­mal feed­ing ex­pe­ri­ences, step on a few kid rides, splash in a wa­ter spray and grab some food at its on-site restau­rant. Fort My­ers to Lox­a­hatchee is about 120 miles. Mana­tee La­goon is an FPL Eco-Dis­cov­ery Cen­ter, of­fer­ing free ad­mis­sion. The cen­ter pro­vides an en­gag­ing way to learn about manatees (sea cows) while em­pha­siz­ing ways we can pro­tect Florida’s wildlife. A num­ber of dy­namic ex­hibits of­fer in­sight into South Florida’s coastal ecosys­tem. On cold days, Mana­tee La­goon is the per­fect spot to view wild mana­tee herds bask­ing in warm-wa­ter out­flows from Florida Power & Light Com­pany’s Clean En­ergy Cen­ter. Fort My­ers to West Palm Beach is about 125 miles.

Log­ger­head Marinelife Cen­ter is an ocean con­ser­va­tion or­ga­ni­za­tion and sea tur­tle re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion hos­pi­tal lo­cated in Juno Beach. The Palm Beaches are one of the most densely nested log­ger­head tur­tle nest­ing beaches in the world. The Log­ger­head Marinelife Cen­ter is free for all ages. It pro­vides an up-close in­ter­ac­tion with threat­ened and en­dan­gered sea tur­tles. Through ex­hibits and ed­u­ca­tional pro­grams, you'll learn about types of sea tur­tles, their life cy­cle and how hu­mans can help save them. Dur­ing our visit, we signed up for its Mommy & Me paint class. It’s per­fect for preschool­ers. This class is su­perbly de­signed to in­tro­duce ba­sic sea tur­tle con­ser­va­tion and bi­ol­ogy to young chil­dren through ocean­themed sto­ry­telling and hands-on bio­fact lessons be­fore paint­ing a small fig­urine to keep. The small fee for the class is worth it for the added cre­ativ­ity and a sou­venir to our fam­ily learn­ing ex­pe­ri­ence. Fort My­ers to Juno Beach is about 137 miles.


Af­ter these ex­cit­ing kid-friendly attractions, it is time to re­lax and un­wind. When it comes to re­ju­ve­nat­ing your mind and spirit, Palm Beach County of­fers a fab­u­lous se­lec­tion of spas. Stay at Palm Beach Mar­riott Singer Is­land Beach Re­sort & Spa, for in­stance. It's where you can send the kids to play and cre­ate at the ho­tel Kids Club while you in­dulge in pam­per­ing at Si Spa, a top fi­nal­ist in the 2015 Conde Nast Trav­eler Award. The sleek lines and sea-in­spired dé­cor of the spa in­ter­sect with earth tones to cre­ate a re­lax­ing at­mos­phere that is warm yet up­scale. Oc­to­ber is The Palm Beaches Spa & Well­ness Month, so you can en­joy a num­ber of spa treat­ments, well­ness ex­pe­ri­ences and ho­tel stays at a dis­counted rate.

Take a short drive across the Sun­shine State to our other coast and dis­cover a des­ti­na­tion where kids can learn about an­i­mals, splash in the ocean and ex­pand their mind with na­ture.

The au­thor's daugh­ter en­joy­ing Riviera Beach on Singer Is­land in east Florida.

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