Travel Guide to Florida - - SOUTHEAST FLORIDA -

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 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 new 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 Tribe’s unique way of life at the Mic­co­su­kee In­dian Village.

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 now open at its new home in Down­town Mi­ami’s Mu­seum 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 & Wray Botan­i­cal Col­lec­tion 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, the world’s largest but­ter­fly park.

Visit the Arthur R. Mar­shall Lox­a­hatchee Na­tional Wildlife Refuge in Boynton Beach for guided marsh tours, bird walks, ca­noe trips and more. In Lox­a­hatchee be­come part of the herd at Lion Coun­try Sa­fari, a driv­ethrough 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 fea­tures more than 50 hands-on ed­u­ca­tional ex­hibits, a state-of-the-art plan­e­tar­ium, a new science lab­o­ra­tory for ed­u­ca­tional pro­grams and an up­graded the­ater.

At the new Flamingo Ex­pe­ri­ence at the Palm Beach Zoo, 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.

TOP: Cap­tain Tony’s Sa­loon—first home of Sloppy Joe’s Bar in Key West. LEFT: Tur­tle Hospi­tal in Marathon in the Florida Keys.

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