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Flamingo Gardens, Fort Lauderdale - Orlando / Florida Guide

Florida Guide > Days Out

If you happen to be visiting the Miami area, there are many interesting places to see, and if you would like a tranquil day out after the excitement of the Orlando parks, then Flamingo Gardens, in Fort Lauderdale, is just such a venue.

Flamingo Gardens fits the bill perfectly as it is a 60 acre botanical garden and wildlife sanctuary. The gardens themselves are quite beautiful, housing exotic and rare species of plants and trees, as well as native ones. There are various speciality gardens to wander through, and a tropical plant house which has displays of orchids. There is a historic house to explore, too, built in 1933 by the founders of the gardens, Floyd and Jane Wray.

We like to take the narrated tram ride, which takes you through tropical rainforest, wetland areas, citrus groves and a native Oak Hammock. Now what is a hammock you might ask? Well, it’s not one of those things you lie in and gently swing to and fro. No, the term is used to describe a cool and shady place, which is normally higher in elevation than its surrounding areas. The massive oaks found in this hammock provide a serene and shady place. The tour itself takes approximately 25 minutes and is narrated throughout. It’s a great way to rest your weary limbs, as you wind your way through the different terrains.

But Flamingo Gardens, as its name suggests, is also home to numerous flamingos which live amidst tropical vegetation and sparkling waterfalls. These graceful and beautiful birds are a pleasure to watch. With their delicate pink plumage and legs, they will give you a great photo opportunity. There is also an enormous 25,000 sq ft. ‘Free Flight Aviary,’ which is home to one of the largest collections of wading birds in America. In here there are plants native to five different ecosystems.

If birds of prey are more to your liking, then you can also visit them in the Bird of Prey Centre. Here, birds which are endangered, or at risk, are cared for. Sometimes they have sustained injuries so cannot be released back into the wild. In the Butterfly Garden and Hummingbird Garden the plants and shrubs have been chosen to attract many different species, and in winter you may see the Ruby Throated Hummingbird. Like many of us who enjoy the warmth of Florida, these tiny birds measuring 4 cm and weighing in at just over 3gm, migrate southwards in winter. It is amazing to watch their wings beating so fast – between 40 and 80 beats per second, but you won’t be able to count them, you just have to take it as read!

However, if animals are more up your street then there are plenty of these, too, with bobcats and river otters, an alligator lagoon, and each day a wildlife encounter featuring some of Florida’s native wildlife, such as birds of prey and reptiles.

Of course, there is a gift shop, which is great to wander round, and offers many unusual gifts and souvenirs, as well as books. Here you can pick up items of jewellery, toys, clothing and items associated with flamingos – pink of course! There is a tropical fruit market where you can buy fruits, fresh smoothies – delicious - and freshly squeezed juices. It is a good idea to buy something here to eat on the way round, or just cool down with one of the great tasting fruit drinks. There is a garden shop, too, with a great selection of plants – ferns, palms, bromeliads, flowering plants, ground cover plants and ones which are fragrant.

One of the most interesting things is that you can become a ‘Wildlife Parent’ for a donation of just $30. You can become a guardian to a bird or other resident wildlife, and you will then receive a personalized adoption certificate, a fact sheet about your adopted creature, and two free passes to Flamingo Gardens. There is also an Adoption Roll of Honour in the Aviary where your name will be inscribed. Now, how do you fancy being ‘mum’ to an American Alligator, Indigo Snake, Turkey Vulture, Bald Eagle or Florida Bobcat? For my taste, I would prefer adopting a flamingo, river otter or a spoonbill!

And if you get hunger pangs, then you can visit the ‘Flamingo Café’ – what else could it be called? Again, freshly squeezed juices are on the menu, with sandwiches and snacks from the Gator Grill. The café overlooks the pink Caribbean flamingos, and is a wonderful place to chill out.

Flamingo Gardens can be found at 3750 Flamingo Rd – where else? This is in Davie, Fort Lauderdale.Viewed 6457 times.

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