I love being a tourist. Especially in my own state. And, (in my humble opinion), Florida has a lot to offer in that department. Not just mouse ears, thrill rides and beaches, but interesting, educational, beautiful, fun things to see and do. If you tell me about something fun to do in my own backyard, I’m in, full force!
I have read about Flamingo Gardens, located in Davie, FL, in guide books, and seen flashes on it on my Pinterest account (Pinterest knows I like to visit places around Florida), so it was natural for me to take the day and scout it out. I left the husband behind, and had the whole day by myself to explore leisurely. Located on the southeast side of the state, near Miami and Ft. Lauderdale, it’s an easy place to get to, located just two miles off I-595.
Flamingo Gardens sounds like a cheesy road-side-tourist-trap type place, and honestly, when I pulled into their parking lot, I was afraid that was what I was in for. But once you get past the simple facade, what you find inside is truly wonderful.
I was lucky enough to visit on a Wednesday, when practically no-one was there. Well, except for these colorful guys who greeted me as I walked up to get my ticket.
Flamingo Gardens is a not-for-profit wildlife sanctuary and botanical gardens. Inside, they have a lot to claim for themselves. To start with, they have the largest collection of Florida Champion Trees in the state.
Champion trees are the largest of their species, and this place has twenty of these babies.
A tram ride (included in your ticket) takes you around the entire gardens – a significant 60 acres of trees, bushes, flowers and shrubs. One was leaving right as I walked by, so I hopped on and listened while the driver took us on a 20 minute tour of the place, and detailed the history of what Flamingo Gardens was and how it came to be.They have a HUGE banyan tree (not native to Florida, but still so pretty). It was like something out of a fantasy novel with somewhat creepy tentacle-like arms stretching to the ground from all the upper branches.On the grounds, lots of flowers were in bloom. This huge orchid plant hung from one of the large trees, which caught everyone’s eye, and camera.After the tram tour was over, I walked over to the first wildlife show of the day. Flamingo Gardens provides a home to animals and birds that cannot otherwise survive in the wild (due to injury). Two times a day, you can see their Wildlife Encounter Show. I got to see these three charming friends during the first show.I know, I know…a possum, but she was sooo cute! I think my cat needs a sibling.
This poor fella lost an eye to a gunshot.
This king snake was pretty good sized as you can see, but was quite friendly.After the show ended, I continued to explore. Nearby the wildlife show pavilion is a free flying aviary, full of native birds. Just watch where you step. Free flying also means free falling (poop that is).I managed to make it through the aviary, untouched by falling fecal matter, and proceeded to check out where the resident owls were napping.And a bird of prey cage.
I’m going to wait and tell you about the rest of the animal exhibits in my next post. (I took so many good pics I want to share and talk about!) This place was THAT cool, it warrants two posts. Catch up with you soon!