EXPLORER Wildlife, Nature and FUN!
Discovering Florida’s Palm Beaches, a short hop from SWFL
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.
LIONS, MANATEES AND SEA TURTLES ... OH, MY!
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.
TIME TO RELAX WHILE THEY PLAY
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.