Flor­ida Gar­dens to Visit With Kids

Nur­tur­ing an in­ter­est in the nat­u­ral world

Gulf & Main - - Contents -

The Sun­shine State has a per­fect bal­ance of cloud­less days and rain­fall—pro­vid­ing the per­fect en­vi­ron­ment for an ar­ray of lush fo­liage and big, bold, col­or­ful blooms. Be­cause of this, Flor­ida has many botan­i­cal gar­dens that cap­ture the hearts of their vis­i­tors. While some chil­dren are nat­u­rally ex­cited by a botan­i­cal ex­pe­ri­ence, oth­ers aren’t so con­fi­dent that it will be a f un time. They may have no in­ter­est in veg­e­ta­tion and no nat­u­ral in­cli­na­tion to­ward the out­doors. In this case, do a lit­tle re­search on the plants you will be see­ing so that you can cre­ate ex­cite­ment by shar­ing some fas­ci­nat­ing facts about each gar­den you visit.

The Flor­ida gar­dens listed here open up the large world of plants to kids, pro­vid­ing them with a col­or­ful way to con­nect with na­ture. Each of these fan­tas­tic gar­dens is within an easy drive, so you can start ar­rang­ing your own fam­ily gar­den ad­ven­tures to­day.

Marie Selby Botan­i­cal Gar­dens

900 S. Palm Av­enue, Sarasota 941-366-5731; selby.org Selby Gar­dens is fo­cused on the re­search and con­ser­va­tion of epi­phytes. It has the world’s largest col­lec­tion. Its 15 acres are filled with sev­eral beau­ti­ful gar­dens, green­houses, a tropical con­ser­va­tory and an in­ter­ac­tive chil­dren’s rain­for­est full of wa­ter­falls, bridges and huts with games.

Al­fred B. Ma­clay Gar­dens State Park

3540 Thomasville Road, Tal­la­has­see 850-487-4556; flori­das­tateparks.org/park/Ma­clay-Gar­dens This his­toric site and botan­i­cal gar­dens oc­cupy 1,176 acres of Flor­ida state park­land. Un­like the other gar­dens listed here, Al­fred B. Ma­clay Gar­dens State Park has nu­mer­ous ac­tiv­i­ties to cre­ate a full fam­ily day; you can hike, bike, pic­nic and even swim.

Bok Tower Gar­dens

1151 Tower Blvd., Lake Wales 863-676-1408; bok­tow­er­gar­dens.org This 250-acre con­tem­pla­tive gar­den is home to the 205-foot-tall Singing Tower, which pro­vides daily car­il­lon con­certs. Bok Tower Gar­dens also of­fers the Pine Ridge Na­ture Trail, a three-quar­ter­mile-long path through a lon­gleaf pine for­est; Pinewood Es­tate, a Mediter­ranean-style man­sion built in the 1930s; and the most mag­i­cal chil­dren’s gar­den, Ham­mock Hol­low, where fam­i­lies can ex­plore na­ture and art in a tac­tile and mean­ing­ful way.

Edi­son & Ford Win­ter Es­tates

2350 McGregor Blvd., Fort My­ers 239-334-7419; edis­on­ford­win­ter­estates.org If you en­joy shar­ing his­tory with your kids, as well as en­joy­ing its aes­thetic beauty, Edi­son & Ford Win­ter Es­tates is a must-see. Fam­i­lies can stroll back in time through the es­tates’ 20 acres of gar­dens, fea­tur­ing more than 1,700 plants, rep­re­sent­ing some 400 species from six con­ti­nents.

Naples Botan­i­cal Gar­den

4820 Bayshore Drive, Naples 239-643-7275; naples­gar­den.org Naples Botan­i­cal Gar­den con­sists of 170 acres of cul­ti­vated gar­dens and pre­served land, rep­re­sent­ing seven dis­tinct nat­u­ral habi­tats and ecosys­tems, and fea­tur­ing more than 1,000 species. The Vicky C. and David By­ron Smith Chil­dren’s Gar­den is an in­ter­ac­tive world of flow­ers, veg­eta­bles, but­ter­flies and na­tive land­scapes. The Wild Flor­ida Loop Trail wan­ders through the na­tive ecosys­tems, treat­ing your kids to var­i­ous ac­tiv­i­ties such as cre­at­ing a mas­ter­piece with side­walk chalk, climb­ing to the top of a tree­house, and ex­plor­ing the river of grass from, as its web­site says, “a spi­der’s per­spec­tive.”

Morikami Mu­seum & Japanese Gar­dens

4000 Morikami Park Road, Del­ray Beach 561-495-0233; morikami.org These au­then­tic Japanese gar­dens trans­port vis­i­tors to the land that in­spired them, while never leav­ing South Flor­ida. The Ro­jien: Gar­den of the Drops of Dew ac­tu­ally con­sists of six dis­tinct spa­ces in­spired by his­toric Japanese gar­dens. Morikami also has a bon­sai ex­hibit and mu­seum col­lec­tions on its cam­pus that pro­vide an au­then­tic look into Japanese his­tory and cul­ture.

But­ter­fly World

3600 W. Sam­ple Road, Co­conut Creek 954-977-4434; but­ter­fly­world.com This is the largest but­ter­fly park in the world, where kids will love be­ing sur­rounded by more than 20,000 live but­ter­flies.

Flamingo Gar­dens

3750 S. Flamingo Road, Davie 954-473-2955; flamin­gog­a­r­dens.org Flamingo Gar­dens is a 60-acre, not-for-profit wildlife sanc­tu­ary, aviary and botan­i­cal gar­den. One of the old­est

gar­dens and at­trac­tions in South Flor­ida, it is home to the largest col­lec­tion of Flor­ida Cham­pion Trees, cer­ti­fied by the Flor­ida Forestry Ser­vice as the largest of their species. The prop­erty’s Ever­glades Wildlife Sanc­tu­ary pro­vides a col­lec­tion per­ma­nent of home Flor­ida’s to in­jured na­tive wildlife an­i­mals. and Fun houses and in­for­ma­tive the largest col­lec­tion of Flor­ida's na­tive an­i­mals. Fun and in­for­ma­tive

Viz­caya Mu­seum & Gar­dens

3251 S. Mi­ami Av­enue, Mi­ami 305-250-9133; viz­caya.org These Euro­pean-in­spired gar­dens are among the most elab­o­rate in the United States and are es­pe­cially ap­peal­ing to kids who love his­tory. Rem­i­nis­cent of gar­dens cre­ated in 17th- and 18th-cen­tury Italy and France, the Viz­caya land­scape is ar­ranged as a se­ries of rooms, with art col­lec­tions placed through­out the grounds. Af­ter ex­plor­ing the gar­dens, you can take in the grandeur of the lav­ish Ital­ian villa-in­spired res­i­dence on the shore­line of Bis­cayne Bay. Mandy Carter is a lo­cal mom with a pas­sion for fam­ily travel, a pop­u­lar travel blog­ger in­clud­ing her own blog acup­ful.com and is the man­ag­ing edi­tor for TOTI Me­dia. Clock­wise from top left: Up close with the res­i­dents of Flamingo Gar­dens in Co­conut Creek; ex­plor­ing Ham­mock Hol­low, a chil­dren’s gar­den at Bok Tower in Lake Wales; the main build­ing at Morikami Mu­seum & Japanese Gar­dens in Del­ray Beach.

Viz­caya Mu­seum & Gar­dens brings the glo­ries of French and Ital­ian land­scapes to Mi­ami.

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