The Palm Beaches is 47 miles of oceanfront property on the South East Coast of Florida. And while you can certainly enjoy the water activities there is so much more to explore, from luxury resorts, to water parks, a science center and more, The Palm Beaches is certainly a family friendly destination.
During a recent hosted visit with my youngest daughter, courtesy of Discover The Palm Beaches, we found so much more than surf and sun. She still can’t choose a favorite, but I do believe the Loggerhead Turtles may be the winner in her book.
The Palm Beaches: Lions, and Turtles and Zebra Oh My!
What I want to dig a little deeper into, is the animal encounter experiences in The Palm Beaches. Who knew that a luxury beach destination would offer so many educational and fun family activities. Some are free and others range from a small fee to a full days admission. Let’s take a look.
Lion Country Safari, West Palm Beach
Venture away from the ocean and spend a day with the animals at Lion Country Safari in West Palm Beach. This adventure is two parks for the price of one, and it is a full day of fun.
The cost of admission at Lion Country Safari is $35 (ages 10-64), $26 (ages 3-9) and toddlers are free. This year Lion Country Safari is celebrating its 50th Anniversary and is offering special admission Aug 19-Sept 1,2017 for only $19.67 per person! Print the special coupon if you will be in the area and be sure to visit.
Drive Through Safari Adventure
You will begin your day with the Drive Through Safari Adventure. This is Florida’s only drive-through Safari park and is home to over 900 animals. You will follow the CD guide given to you when you pay your admission, and take the 4 mile self guided safari in your own vehicle. The preserve is divided into seven areas, and each area is home to various wildlife from Zebras, Ostrich, Rhinos and of course Lions. You can drive thru as many times as you like until the park closes.
Your adventure may be interrupted with Rhino crossing the road or Water Buffalo grazing slowly by. Each time you go through you will see the animals in a different way. The animals are in as much of a natural habitat as possible and left alone by park staff, you won’t see any circus type antics here as they are free to roam, feed and breed. Because these are wild animals you may not feed them and must keep windows up at all times.
The animals always have the right of way, so no honking or aggressive driving. If they are in the road, take the time to enjoy their beauty.
Safari World Amusement Park
Once you have finished the Safari experience you will go to Safari World Amusement Park (included in admission). Here is where you can experience up close animal habitats, mini golf, petting zoo, paddle boats and even a water play area. The kids in our group especially loved the ability to feed the giraffes. We spent at least 40 minutes giving them lettuce.
There are ample places to enjoy lunch and with offerings from fresh salads, burgers and pizza you can certainly find something for the pickiest eater in your bunch. If you are looking for a sweet treat grab an ice cream or funnel cake from the snack stands throughout the park.
After lunch the kids rode the carousel (3 times in a row), played mini-golf, fed the lory and splashed around in the water play area. And the best part is, it’s all included in admission!
I will admit, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I almost expected a roadside attraction, but this is far from it. Working in part with Jane Goodall Foundation with their chimps and having their own Species Survival Plan I can assure you, Lion Country Safari is a top-notch place to visit and learn all about animals of a variety of species.
Loggerhead Marine Life Center, Juno Beach
Over 30 years ago, long-time Juno Beach resident Eleanor Fletcher started what is now Loggerhead Marinelife Center. Thus began some of the earliest studies of sea turtles and their habits. Juno Beach is now recognized as one of the most active nesting beaches in the world. It is especially important for kids to learn how they can help sea turtles and our environment.
The Marine Life Center focuses on rehab and conservation of sea turtles. The turtles they help are always released back into the wild once they are rehabbed. There is no fee to visit the center, but they do subtly ask for donations to keep their work alive.
Junior Sea Turtle Researcher
During our visit,the kids took part in the Junior Researcher Program. This is a free program and takes kids on the journey from the nest to the ocean for Sea Turtles. The kids loved this, as they learned about the three different types of sea turtles in Florida and why it is important to leave their nests alone. They also learned during nesting season that businesses on the ocean front dim their lights so the turtles don’t confuse day for night during nesting.
There are many other programs that the center offers including evening turtle walks, fish i.d. programs and summer camps to name a few. A favorite program is the nightly hatchling release. This takes place June through September at 8 p.m. and here you will enjoy an evening tour of the Turtle Yard to see current hatchlings undergoing rehab, learn about hatchling strengths and challenges, and join staff members in releasing the most recent sea turtles to be excavated by our trained and permitted research staff back to sea.
The Turtle Yard
The yard is where the rehabbed turtles are kept until they are ready to be released into the wild. The staff will work with them daily to rehab them and prepare them for life back in the ocean. If it is decided that a turtle cannot go back into the wild they will work with local conservation programs to place them in a long-term facility.
The kids had so many questions for our guide and were enamored with the turtles and why they were there. I think we all walked away with a profound knowledge of these beautiful ocean creatures. It is certainly worth a visit (or two) during your time in The Palm Beaches.
Other Animal Encounters
While we were not able to visit, I found a few other places in The Palm Beaches that provide animal encounters worth mentioning.
Manatee Lagoon – An FPL Eco-Discovery Center, is a new, FREE Palm Beach County educational attraction with a dedicated area for viewing manatees up close. The 16,000-square-foot center features engaging, hands-on exhibits for visitors to learn all about these endangered and unique creatures as well as the natural wonders of the surrounding Lake Worth Lagoon.
The Palm Beach Zoo
The Palm Beach Zoo is located in West Palm Beach on 23 acres of tropical land, housing over 550 animals, many of them endangered. Multiple shows take place each day to give you an up close view of the animals.
As you can see, The Palm Beaches offers many attractions where animal lovers can come face to face with wild and endangered animals. They will not only see them, but learn about them as well. If you are looking for a beach vacation with educational attractions mixed in, The Palm Beaches is the place to be.