Kids and animal parks seem to be a synonymous thing these days. Kids simply can’t get enough of animals. However, after being to so many zoos, I am constantly on the look out for something different and fun – I think more for my own variation than theirs. Looking for activities to do with my family in South Florida, I stumbled upon Flamingo Gardens located in Fort Lauderdale. One thing that sparked my interest most is that it’s a animal sanctuary / rescue center, not a zoo.
Actually, it was started as a botanical garden almost a century ago by the Wray’s and has since then grown into one of the largest Wildlife Sanctuaries in the area.
To be honest, I didn’t really know what to expect. I’ve been to rescue centers before and I’ve been to Botanical gardens, too. It’s so dependent not only of the actual property, but of which animals you are allowed to see. At times most of the animals are not open to the public since they want to reintroduce them to the wild. Which is super, I’m all for it. But with most places you then only see the super sick animals and not that many at that. And botanical gardens, on a whole, are pretty boring for kids. So to say the least, I was a bit hesitant.
I was in for a great surprise.
Have you ever walked into a place where there was a magical energy around it? I know it sounds flaky and ridiculous. But this was our first impression and feeling when we arrived. My husband and I even commented on that. Something simply felt so comfortable and good.
What To Do and See at Flamingo Gardens:
1. Wildlife Encounter show – I love seeing shows. It gives a great insight into what the parks are about. We immediately went to see the last show of the day, not to miss it.
The show wasn’t your typical zoo attraction. It’s not about trained animals putting on tricks, but more of an educational twist teaching you about the rescued animals of the park and the work they are doing with them.
2. The Tram – we did this next. I like to get the attractions that are scheduled out of the way, this way we can enjoy the rest of the time calmly without worrying that we need to be somewhere.
What the tram offers is a brief tour, but also takes you to places that you can not walk to. It’s a quick ride, showing more of the botanical parts. My kids enjoyed it, because of the ride.
3. Flamingos – What good would the name Flamingo Gardens be if there were no Flamingos.
4. Wray House – this is the original house where the Wray’s lived. The area around it is shaded by huge trees. Tons of open spaces and hundreds of free range peacocks that my kids couldn’t get enough of. You can take a tour inside too.
5. Trees – They have tons of amazing trees. This is half of one.
And my son couldn’t resist doing his monkey tricks off of the same humongous tree.
5. Paths and trails – the park is full of lovely walking trails that are great for strollers and wheel chairs. And bridges with small canals flowing under them where you can see swans as well.
6. Romance – you can even get married here. I love this Gazebo!
7. The animals – the original sanctuary was mainly for birds. There are big cages along all the trails. And even a large aviary.
But it’s a lot more. They have pumas, turtles, alligators, etc…
8. Family silliness
9. More Flamingos
My Take On It:
The serenity, the animals, the large cages, the shady open spaces is just the right mix for a great day out. We arrived in the second part of the day thinking that we would be done within a couple of hours. We were literally one of the very last people to leave. We didn’t want it to end!
Tips to Enjoy Flamingo Gardens to the Fullest:
There are three daily wildlife encounter shows which I really recommend attending (at least one). So find the hour that works best for you not to miss it.
I also recommend doing the Tram tour in the beginning of the tour, this way you can walk around the rest of the time and simply enjoy the park.
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+)