Visiting Flamingo Gardens is a wonderful way to spend the day as you enjoy seeing and learning about wildlife and plants.
Flamingo Gardens in South Florida is a wonderful place to visit to have an immersive day full of fun and learning about plants, trees, and lots of animals that call it home.
We spent the summer doing a lot of fun things like going to the pool, beach, skate park, doing a lot of drawing, painting, and trips to the library. I also tried to keep our kids busy with really fun adventures. Bonus points when they are educational.
One Sunday night I felt a bit impulsive and decided that I would kick off the week by driving across the state to get to Miami so we could go to Flamingo Gardens. What’s a 3 hour drive each way to go to a botanical garden?!
Last year, I purchased a Bok Tower Gardens membership and we enjoyed going there, as well as the other places in their reciprocal membership program. Flamingo Gardens is one of the gardens that our membership provides us access to.
WILDLIFE ENCOUNTER SHOWS
When we arrived, we were notified that one of the Wildlife Encounter Shows was about to begin so we beelined it over there to get our seats for a show.
We had a great time learning about a hawk, an owl, and a very large Burmese Python names Bertha. The one eyed hawk was justly named Captain Jacky in honor of the pirates that are missing an eye.
Pandora, the owl, lives at Flamingo Gardens because she has an injured wing, so she is unable to care for herself. She fell out of her nest as a baby,. Unfortunately, the people that found her didn’t immediately take her to get proper care, instead they decided to keep her as a pet ( a federal offense). Her broken wing did get the property care it needed and didn’t set properly. It was a good reminder that it is best to have trained professionals care for injured animals.
Wildlife Encounters are presented daily at 11:30 am, 1:30 pm, and 3:30 pm (weather permitting) at the Wildlife Encounter Outdoor Amphitheater.
I loved that everywhere we turned there was something to do, see, and learn about.
There was a really cool colorful mural featuring a variety of birds near the restrooms by the gallery. Great spot for some family pictures. Or in my case, a selfie, because my kids were off exploring.
DAVID ROGERS’ BIG BUGS
When we visited we enjoyed getting to see sculptures of bugs of all sizes as part of the David Roger’s Big Bugs exhibit.
Under the canopy of 200 year old oaks, we checked out 10′ long ants. The ants weigh 725 pounds each- far more than the itty bitty insects that inspired the sculptures.
There even is a 10′ tall Daddy Long Legs and a 17′ long Praying Mantis!
Throughout the gardens were 10 different moments for you to taken in the beautiful sculptures. The plaques near the insects describe the different materials that artist David Rogers used to make the sculptures. He used a mixture of different kinds of wood for each sculpture, such as willow, black walnut, and cedar.
Inside the Gallery space, we checked out some live insects. The kids used magnifying glasses to check out the bugs that are found in Florida.
My kids (and me too!) really enjoyed getting to see all the peacocks roaming around the paths.
During our Wildlife show, we learned that the white peacocks that roam flamingo Gardens are not albino ones, but are actually Leucism Peacocks. It is a genetic mutation that makes their feathers white.
After we watched the Wildlife Encounter Show we checked out the Birds of Prey area. There are a variety of owls, vultures, hawks, falcons as well as Golden and Bald eagles. After we learned about these at-risk, endangered, or injured birds, we fluttered over to the aviary.
The 25,000 square foot aviary has over 250 birds representing more than 45 species native to Florida, most of whom are permanently injured and no longer able to live in the wild. We saw a few pelicans with injured wings.
As you walk through the aviary you traverse the five unique ecosystems- coastal prairie, mangrove swamp, cypress forest, subtropical hardwood hammock, and sawgrass prairie- of the Florida Everglades. The different zones are represented through the display of native plants that the birds live among.
The conservation and breeding program at Flamingo Gardens is vital to the Everglades. They take in and care for injured birds, rehabilitate them so they are able to breed, if possible. There are about 100 chicks born in the Aviary and Bird of Prey Center every year. When mature enough, they are released to keep their species thriving in the wild.
We picked up some food when we arrived so the kids could feed the birds throughout the aviary. They had a blast tossing food for the various birds we viewed along the aviary’s paths. We also saw turtle too!
The Botanical Gardens and Arboretum
Flamingo Gardens boasts a wonderful Arboretum and Botanical Gardens throughout the 60 acre property!
The Arboretum features hundreds of native and exotic trees. Flamingo Gardens also has the largest collection (15!) of Florida Champion Trees, the largest trees of their species.
Be sure to take in all the various gardens nestled along the baths. You’ll find the ones like the Butterfly and Hummingbird Garden, Croton Garden, and Bromeliad Garden. Each of these different areas feature different native and non-native plants and trees that are importantt o the ecosystem in their own way. They might provide shade from their tall canopy, food for pollinators, a
Cluster Fig Tree
The non-native Cluster Fig is the largest tree in the Florida Champion Tree register. It measures 649 inches (54 feet 1 inch) in circumference, 102 feet in height, with a crown span of 95 feet!
My kids know I love big, old trees so I just kept walking about saying “I love these trees”. To be honest, I probably couldn’t tell you much about their different varieties, but I just love their presence. I love that they have been around for whole entire life times, bracing through storms, growing every year. My perfect day would be spent reading a good book and napping on a soft blanket under a big, old oak.
Central to Flamingo Gardens is the lagoon where the flamingos live. We saw about a dozen Caribbean Flamingos living in their naturalistic environment of tropical vegetation and sparkling waterfalls. Hanging out with the flamingos were birds like White Ibis, cranes, and other native birds.
Let’s be honest, the kids really just fed the White Iris that flocked to us by the dozens. Gotta say they are pretty smart hanging out at Flamingo Gardens as they get to enjoy all the yummy food from the visitors.
Along the Flowering Tree Walk we saw plenty of other birds like the White Ibis, ducks, and geese. It was fun getting up and close and personal with all the different birds.
It took us a few hours to get to Flamingo Gardens but it was well worth the long drive. We had an incredible time winding around on the trails taking in all the different sights of the different plants, trees, birds, and animals that all call the botanical gardens and sanctuary home.
Besides the flamingos, we saw a gator, otters, and a bear named Josh. I could have stood and watched those otters all day long as they swam around, going up and down their slide. It looked like they were having a ball playing together and putting on show for everyone watching them.
There also was a panther that enjoyed relaxing in the shade. It was a hot July day, so I couldn’t blame it.
Along with the bird food, we had purchased food for the koi fish when we arrived. Our afternoon wound down with the kids feeding the koi fish near the entrance/exit.
After we left Flamingo Gardens we stopped off for a very late lunch at Sovereign for some poke bowls. It was refreshing, filling, and satisfying.
I realize that we were about only 30 minutes from the beach so we decided to dip our toes in the Atlantic. While at the beach we also stopped for a sweet reats to get an ice cream cone from Puffles. It was the best way to wind down our day.
The day was a great success! We had a wonderful time exploring Flamingo Gardens together. I live for going on these spontaneous adventures and making memories like this.
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