The Palm Beaches await you after just a short drive down the coast from Orlando. Theme parks and Florida are like peanut butter and jelly. But there is a natural side that shouldn’t be missed on your next visit to the sunshine state. After you’ve spent some time with the most famous mouse around, venture south just a short drive to The Palm Beaches. The Palm Beaches is home to sea cows in their natural habitat. You can explore The Palm Beach Zoo, featuring over 550 animals on 23 acres of tropical paradise. Plus, Lion County Safari is Florida’s only drive through safari featuring up close animal encounters!
Manatee Lagoon – An FPL Eco-Discovery Center
(6000 N Flagler Dr, West Palm Beach, FL 33407)
Florida Power & Light Co. just celebrated the one-year anniversary of its 16,000-square-foot Eco-Discovery Center & Manatee Lagoon. The location is preferred by manatees who congregate in the lagoon as the warm water overflows from FPL’s Riviera Beach Next Generation Clean Energy Center. Cooler weather provides the best chance to view manatees during manatee season running from Nov. 15 through March 31. The Manatee Lagoon is the perfect family destination, year round to learn about these majestic creatures. Tours are available from Manatee Masters daily at 2 PM. We throughly enjoyed our visit. The kids were fascinated to learn facts about manatees. As a mom, I love to visit places that incorporate learning into fun experiences! Make sure to visit the gift shop to find cute manatee gifts and collectibles. Don’t forget to take a selfie out front with the manatee. This is one of many photo-worthy spots to capture a great selfie or famfie (family selfie) along The Palm Beaches Selfie Trail to document your visit. Admission and parking at Manatee Lagoon is free. Hours are 9 AM – 4 PM.
The Palm Beach Zoo –
(1301 Summit Blvd West Palm Beach, FL 33405)
The Palm Beach Zoo is at the top of my favorite list for zoos across the country. The beautiful tree surrounded fountain is essentially the hub of the zoo. Four areas branch out from the fountain. Choose from Tropics Of The Americas, Florida, Asia, and The Islands. Each area features native animals from that specific area. Tropics of The Americas is home to Capuchin and spider monkeys, giant anteater, jaguar, and a reptile observatory. Florida features alligators of course! Plus, otters, American Flamingos, bald eagles, and bears. Venture towards The Islands to find lemurs, komodo dragons, ocelot, sloths, and koala. Lastly but spectacular none the less, Asia is where you will find emu, llama, emu, deer, and kangaroo at The Palm Beach Zoo.
After exploring the zoo, venture to Tropics Café for a quick meal from the walk up counter or sit and relax in the air conditioned cafe’. Traditional fare is offered with an upscale twist. Enjoy a fresh chicken cease salad or wrap, blackened fish tacos, or a roamin’ beef burger made with free range beef. I highly recommend the island slaw for a side and opt for fresh fruit. It’s so sweet and refreshing on a warm day. Wash down your meal with an Arnold Palmer featuring a mixture of sweet tea and lemon or enjoy a glass of wine with your meal. The Palm Beach Zoo hit a home run on the Tropics Café. This restaurant was a great place to rest, cool down, and enjoy some delicious food! Hours at The Palm Beach Zoo are daily from 9:00am-5:00pm. Parking is complimentary!
Lion Country Safari
(2003 Lion Country Safari Road Loxahatchee, Florida 33470)
Lion Country Safari is Florida’s only drive through safari located 20 miles west of The Palm Beaches. Relax in your own vehicle as you drive through seven zones featuring animals roaming free together as they would in the wild. Free from cages the animals are able to congregate in groups, feed off the land, and rest under the warm Florida sun. Slowly meander through Lion Country Safari to see unique animals including alpaca, ostrich, giraffe, rhinoceros, water buffalo, wildebeest, and an African lion! Imagine the delight as you stare eye to eye through your car windows into the face of an ostrich walking right next to your car. Truly a unique experience everyone must discover while visiting Florida. Allow plenty of time to drive through the safari. I recommend at least 4 hours if not more to fully take in all there is to see at Lion County Safari. A walk through safari, sprayground – (don’t forget your swimsuit), and ice cream is available on site for a sweet treat after an afternoon with the animals! Overnight camping is available at Lion Country Safari should you feel like you need more time to explore the exotic safari offerings. Hours are 9:30am – 5:30pm. Admission gate to the safari allows the last car to enter at 4:30pm. Parking is $8 per car.
The Palm Beaches were enlightening with a host of great venues to offer for animal lovers. I can’t wait to take my kids back for another day trip just down the coast from Orlando to discover more of the undiscovered in The Palm Beaches.