The east coast is lined with beautiful beaches and offers plenty of family activities
Whether you’re heading down to the Fort Lauderdale, Boca Raton or Palm Beach area for a midwinter family getaway or going to visit relatives, there’s so much to do and see.
Countless miles of beautiful beaches line the scenic A1A highway on the east coast, which runs along the Atlantic Ocean all the way from Key West at the southern tip of Florida to just south of Georgia on Amelia Island. Most hotels and condo complexes have pools, but if you’re looking for a little adventure, you’ll find plenty of options to suit a variety of interests.
Want to explore? A water taxi ride along the Intercoastal Highway provides a waterside view of breathtaking homes. Drive a little west for a safari experience, where you can see alligators and wild boar in the Everglades.
You can even tour on a Segway.
Animals lovers have so many options from Butterfly World, Lion Country Safari or Monkey Jungle to Jungle Island, the Palm Beach Zoo or even The Girls Strawberry Patch. Nature lovers can choose from numerous parks and preserves including Green Cay Nature Center and Wetlands, which was once a 100-acre garlic field that has been converted to a 1.5-mile boardwalk elevated over wetlands, where visitors can see alligators, birds and turtles.
Arcade enthusiasts can get their thrills at Boomers! The Boca Raton location offers mini golf, go carting and rides. Frank Theatres CineBowl & Grille at Delray MarketPlace not only features an IMAX movie theater and arcade games, but also boutique-style bowling.
The area is replete with quaint towns and shopping malls lined with interesting boutiques and outdoor cafés on Las Olas Boulevard in Fort Lauderdale, Atlantic Avenue and Delray Marketplace in Delray Beach, Bayside and Coconut Grove in Miami, and Worth Avenue and CityPlace in Palm Beach.
Within an hour’s drive, hundreds of attractions await. Here are several highlights.
When entering the largest butterfly park in the world, the tranquil music, tropical setting and thousands of colorful butterflies in the aviary offer a serene yet awe-inspiring experience. Visitors can witness the life cycle from chrysalis to caterpillar to beautiful butterfly in the laboratory, and can feed birds and view jaw-dropping tropical insects, some alive and some preserved.
Located in Tradewinds Park at 3600 West Sample Rd., Coconut Creek, FL 33073; www.butterflyworld.com; 954-977-4434.
Originally known as Parrot Jungle, at this 22-acre park, visitors walk through tropical settings and witness a variety of rare and exotic creatures in their natural habitat. Macaws fly free and guests can view lions and flamingos, and interact with lemurs, kangaroos, baby alligators, snakes and tarantulas. There’s even a real tropical beach overlooking Miami.
1111 Parrot Jungle Trail, Miami, FL 33132; www.jungleisland.com; 305-400-7000.
Lion Country Safari
Known as the first cageless zoo, Lion Country Safari visitors experience the Serengeti much closer to home as they drive through the safari-style park, view African terrain and more than 900 natural inhabitants including lions, zebras, hippos, giraffes, alpacas, rheas, kudus, impalas and ostriches, and listen to the accompanying soundtrack that describes each region and provides information about the animals. Inside the 260-acre park, choose from kiddie and boat rides, animal petting and feeding, and a water playground.
2003 Lion Country Safari Rd., Loxahatchee, FL 33470; www.lioncountrysafari.com; 561-793-1084.
At this 30-acre wildlife park and discovery center, most monkeys and apes roam free in their natural habitat as visitors view through screened walkways. The Rainforest Adventure Tour allows guests to interact with squirrel monkeys in a jungle setting for an unforgettable experience.
14805 SW 216th St, Miami, FL 33170; www.monkeyjungle.com; 305-235-1611.
Take a 60-minute Segway tour from Fun Center in Fort Lauderdale and glide through Birch Park or a beach to see the attractions.
3146 NE 9th St., Fort Lauderdale, FL 33304; www.funcenterfl.com; 954-533-0439.
The Girls Strawberry Patch
From the front, The Girls looks like an eclectic old-fashioned ice cream shop in an ordinary strip mall, but when guests exit the back door, they feel like they’ve entered an alternative universe with acres and acres of open space housing a bird sanctuary for rescued creatures, fountains with swans and fields for picking strawberries and tomatoes. Admission is free.
14466 S. Military Trail, Delray Beach, FL 33484; www.thegirlsstrawberryupick.com; 561-496-0188.