Flamingo Gardens#13 in Best Things To Do in Fort Lauderdale
Tucked away on an unassuming street in Davie, Florida, Flamingo Gardens is a botanical garden and Everglades wildlife refuge situated 17 miles west of downtown Fort Lauderdale. Recent guests report that the entrance to this hidden gem is less than impressive, but once you're inside the gates, you will be transported to a stunning 60-acre tropical oasis filled with roaming peacocks, native Florida wildlife and more than 3,000 plant species.
A nonprofit organization, Flamingo Gardens aims to preserve endangered, injured animals in naturalistic habitats and educate the public on the history of South Florida and the area's flora and fauna. Animals on-site include sea otters, rehabilitated Florida panthers, a rescued black bear (named Josh), alligators, 250 bird species and – of course – the sanctuary's namesake Caribbean flamingos. Recent visitors loved the park's narrated tram tour through 200-year-old live oak trees and tropical groves, noting it was the perfect way to get an overview of the park. The 25-minute ride is free of charge and leaves every 30 minutes between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m.
During your visit, you can also tour the property's Wray Home Museum. The restored house was built in 1933 and is one of the oldest residences in Broward County. It is an accurate depiction of life in South Florida in the 1930s and displays family portraits of the original owners, Floyd and Jane Wray, who founded Flamingo Gardens (then Flamingo Groves) in 1927 as a citrus orchard. Wray Home Museum is open between 10 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., and admission is included in your Flamingo Gardens ticket.
As far as food goes, visitors can grab sandwiches, snacks, hot dogs and more at the Flamingo Cafe, which overlooks the flamingo pond. Guests craving burgers, pulled pork sandwiches or smoothies can head to the Garden Grill and Big Orange on-site food trucks. However, some travelers felt the cafe was nothing to write home about and the food trucks were overpriced. No outside food is permitted within the park, but you may eat at the picnic tables located outside of the entrance.
Flamingo Gardens is open seven days a week from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. It is closed on Thanksgiving and Christmas, and parking is free of charge. Admission ranges from $12.95 (for kids ages 3 to 11) to $19.95 (for visitors 12 and older). Children 2 and younger get in for free, and college students, seniors and members of the military receive a 20% discount with a valid ID. If you do not plan to drive, Flamingo Gardens recommends organizing transportation through one of its listed cab or shuttle companies. Visit the attraction's website to learn more.
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#1 Fort Lauderdale Beach
Want a beautiful Florida beach without a crazy party scene? Fort Lauderdale Beach may be just what you're looking for. Here you'll find a calmer and less chaotic version of Miami Beach – but with the same sugary sands and crystal clear water. There are still parties, but you're more likely to find families relaxing or leisurely walking the waterline than raucous groups of college kids. Backing the shoreline, the palm tree-lined promenade bustles with visitors looking to shop and dine in the many establishments along it. There are also beach chair and water sports equipment rentals near the shore.
Recent visitors loved Fort Lauderdale Beach for its wide, expansive shoreline, with some noting that even when there were a lot of people, it didn't feel crowded. Many were also impressed with how clean the beach is, adding that its calm waters make it a great place to bring kids.
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