One thing that having kids and traveling with them has taught me, is that they just can’t get enough of animals. So taking them to an animal park is always going to be a success! However after visiting tons of zoos I feel the need to find something different, but still fun.
Our next destination was going to be South Florida, so it was time to look for activities and places to visit with my family. While doing so I found Flamingo Gardens in Fort Lauderdale. The first thing that caught my eye was the fact that it’s not a zoo, it is a rescue center.
When it first opened its doors to the public, almost a century ago, it was a Botanical Garden. It started taking lost, injured or endangered animals of the area soon after and quickly became one of the largest Wildlife Sanctuaries in the area.
Since my family and I have been to a couple of rescue centers and botanical gardens, we weren’t sure about what to expect. There are places when you don’t get to see most of the animals they have, in others you only see sad, sick ones. That is because the ones that are being reintroduced to the wild are kept away from the public. This is great for the animals, but not a lot fun for kids. Another important factor was that in general, botanical gardens aren’t very exciting for kids. So I was a bit nervous about what we would be able to see and how my boys would react.
I’m happy to say that I was pleasantly surprised!
Have you ever walked into a place where there was a magical energy around it? I know for most of you it sounds weird and ridiculous. But that is what I felt as we arrived to the place. We were so comfortable and good, it felt just right. I know I’m not the only one who felt it, my husband and I even commented on that.
What To Do and See at the Sanctuary:
1. Wildlife Encounter show – One thing we all enjoy are animal shows. If you want to know what the whole park is about watch the animal show! And that is what we did. We arrived just in time for the last show of the day. It was very interesting and educational. Instead of a couple animals doing tricks, they explained fun facts about the animals, and what they do to help them.
2. The Tram – This was the next thing. Doing the scheduled attractions at first gives you the freedom to do whatever you want with the rest of your time. This is just a brief tour that takes you to the places of the property that can’t be explored by walking.
3. Flamingos – It would be weird if there weren’t any flamingos at Flamingo Gardens, don’t you think?
4. Wray House – This is the original house, built in 1933, where the Wray’s (the founders) lived and started this project. You can go for a tour inside to learn how people lived in the 1930’s. It is surrounded by open spaces where kids can play and see the peacocks running freely.
5. Trees – They have tons of amazing trees of many species. Most of them are really big, and old. My oldest son, who loves climbing, couldn’t stop doing monkey tricks.
6. Paths and trails – The parks offers lots of trails and some small bridges for exploring the property, a great detail is that they are wheel chair accessible.
7. Romance – We even learned that people can get married here, under a beautiful gazebo.
8. The animals – When it became a sanctuary it was mainly targeted to birds, so you will find tons of those. You can see them in their spacious cages or in a large aviary. I love that they don’t seem to be sad or crowded.
Aside from birds, you can also find other animals like: pumas, turtles, crocodiles, even otters!
My Take On It:
Over all it is a great place for a fun day out with the family. We loved the relaxed ambience, the animals, the fact that the cages are spacious and plenty of open spaces with lots of shade.
One thing I’d recommend is not to schedule too little time for it. We got there during the last part of the day because we thought we’d be out of there really fast. But it ended up being an adventure that we didn’t want to end!
Tips to Enjoy Flamingo Gardens to the Fullest:
Make sure to visit at least one of their animal shows. There are 3 every day, so ask about the schedule to find the best one for you.
The tram tour is something I recommend you do as soon as you get there. That way you can relax, explore the park at your own pace and truly enjoy what excites you the most.
Important info to guide you:
Hours: open 7 days a week 9:30 am – 5:00 pm
Address: 3750 South Flamingo Road, Davie, FL 33330-1614
Cost: $18 Age 12+ / $10 Ages 4-11 / Ages 3 and under are free / $15 Seniors (Age 65+)