Summer is an amazing time to be a kid. Make the most of summer break this year and take the kids to 10 of Palm Beach County’s fun and educational treasures.
The Girls Strawberry U-Pick in Delray Beach is a charming spot for kids of all ages to satisfy their sweet tooth and see some special wildlife.
Inside, the store is stocked with an endless supply of homemade jams and old-fashioned candy, plus an ice cream parlor. If you fancy the spicier side of life, The Girls has a wall showcasing hundreds of hot sauce selections. The quirky interior also houses knick-knacks galore and shelves piled high with model cars and small gift items.
Behind the brick building are rows of strawberries and vegetables ready to be picked for the dinner table. However, The Girls is no ordinary strawberry patch or store; it also serves as a rescue for some lucky animals, including exotic birds, two donkeys, giant tortoises and swans. All the animals are named and given separate homes. There is no charge to see these special occupants, but donations are welcomed to help feed them and update housing.
- Open daily 9 a.m. to5 p.m.
- For more information, call 561-496-0188 or visit thegirlsstrawberryupick.com.
In Boca Raton, visitors at the Sports Immortals Museum can learn about notable athletes throughout history while perusing rare pieces of memorabilia. The collection showcases items likes World Series programs, Shaquille O’Neal’s game jersey and Secretariat’s horseshoe. For the hobbyist and collector, Sports Immortals also offers appraisals for personal items, while the store has more than 10,000 authentic sports items for purchase.
- Hours: Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to6 p.m.; Saturday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
- Admission is $10 for adults, $7 for children.
- For more information, call 561-997-2575 or visit sportsimmortals.com.
|A 1919 World Series Official Score Book (left) and an autographed pair of Jack Dempsey's boxing gloves. Sports Immortal Museum, Boca Raton.|
Boca Raton’s Sugar Sand Park presents a variety of choices for families to enjoy, including pavilions for picnics, nature trails, a carousel, a science playground, Willow Theatre to catch a show and the Children’s Science Explorium.
Designed for children aged 5-12, the Children's Science Explorium is a hands-on science center that brings the world around them into sharper focus with interactive exhibits, special programs and camps dedicated to the physical sciences. The permanent collection focuses on physical science concepts like electricity, magnetism, sound and vibration, and engineering, while the Richard Newman Robot Collection is a small sampling of the world’s largest, with pieces from the omni-present Star Wars to pint-sized toys.
For the artistically minded, Sugar Sand Park’s community center holds art exhibits and special events throughout the year. Through July 30, the Boca Raton Historical Society and Museum is showcasing Nifty Fifties, a look at Boca in the 1950s as it experienced exponential growth during the post-war boom.
Hours and contact information is as follows:
- Community Center (561-347-3900): Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Saturday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Sunday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
- Children’s Science Explorium (561-347-3913, scienceexplorium.org): Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
- Willow Theatre Box Office (561-347-3948, willowtheatre.org): Tuesday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 5-8 p.m.; Saturday, 1-5 p.m.
For more information, visit sugarsandpark.org.
Part of downtown West Palm Beach’s restored 1916 courthouse—also home to the Historical Society of Palm Beach County—the Richard and Pat Johnson Palm Beach County Museum is dedicated to the historical residents and the environment of the area. Two permanent exhibits, People and Place, delve into Palm Beach County’s collective past, focusing on 100 individuals and families who helped define Palm Beach County and its growth, as well as the natural environment and ecology of the region, with kiosks depicting the flora and fauna and how the early inhabitants cohabitated.
The special exhibition gallery welcomes traveling exhibits about the state. Claiming La Florida, which celebrates the Sunshine State’s quincentennial with a look at Juan Ponce de León and his travels, is on display through June 29.
The museum's mission has always been to teach the community about its collective past, a point made with free admission to the public.
- Hours: Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
- Admission is free.
- For more information, call 561-832-4164 or visit historicalsocietypbc.org.
The Everglades and all its glory is closer then you think. Just west of Boynton Beach sits the 145,874-acre tract of Everglades lnown as the Arthur R. Marshall Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge, part of the northernmost stretches of the Everglades and home to one of just three water conservation areas in South Florida.
Established in 1951 under the Migratory Bird Conservation Act, ARM has dedicated its services to not only preservation but also teaching others to do the same. The park offers airboat tours, nature trails and an interactive center for families to learn about the animals and plants that call the refuge home.
American alligators, both native and rescued, lurk in Loxahatchee just feet from the trails. And at any time during the year, this refuge accommodates close to 257 species of birds, including the endangered Everglade snail kite.
While keeping species safe out of harm's way is important, ARM takes it a step further by conducting research. Park researchers monitor this large swath of the Everglades to see how certain species change over time or if the habitat is thriving. This helps shed a light on the environment, its inhabitants and threats like exotic and invasive species.
Don't be alarmed by individuals dressed in a federal police uniforms: These are the law enforcers of the refuge to make sure no one tries to take a live souvenir home. Federal Wildlife Officers are on patrol day and night to make sure guests and inhabitants have a safe experience.
- Open daily from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
- Entrance fee is $5 per vehicle.
- For more information on the refuge and their conservation efforts, visit fws.gov/loxahatchee.
Yesteryear Village takes families on a trek through time, experiencing what Florida used to look like from 1895-1945. The 10-acre parcel is part of the South Florida Fairgrounds and houses original buildings and artifacts as well as replicated homes, creating a village complete with a school, general store, farm, blacksmith shop and houses. Through tours, families can fully take in how early Floridians used to live (tours are a first-come, first-serve basis; advance reservations are requested).
For the music lover, also on the property is the Sally Bennett Big Band Hall of Fame Museum, the only big-band museum in the United States. A tribute to swing and sweet orchestras, the museum is home to memorabilia and exhibits marking a time when “it don’t mean a thing (if it ain’t got that swing).”
- Admission costs $6 per adult, $4 per child.
- For more information, call 561-790-5232 or visit southfloridafair.com/AboutThePark.
Nautical afficionados will want to visit the Palm Beach Maritime Museum. In addition to the permanent Kennedy Bunker and former Coast Guard Station on Peanut Island, the museum docks different ships for periods of time to share their own history. Recently the museum welcomed Privateer Lynx, ship built according to the historical ship from the War of 1812.
- Reach Peanut Island by boat, kayak or water taxi, leaving from Currie Park (reservation required), Riviera Beach Marina and Sailfish Marina daily.
- Hours of operation, Wednesday through Saturday, 10:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
- Admission costs $12 per adult, $6 for students.
- For more information, call 561-848-2960 or visit pbmm.org.
For families with little ones, the Boca Raton Children’s Museum is the ideal place to enjoy a summer day. The museum offers hands-on learning activities, diverse cultural events and weekly classes like Mommy and Me Yoga. More then 10 permanent exhibits and activity stations allow children to let their imaginations run wild in a safe, healthy and educational atmosphere.
Currently, the museum is running summer arts camp for children aged 6-11.
- Hours: Monday to Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
- Admission is $5 for adults and children.
- For more information, call 561-368-6875 or visit cmboca.org.
The Henry Morrison Flagler Museum was not originally intended to be a museum but as a house for the Standard Oil and Florida East Coast Railway/hotelier tycoon Henry Flagler and his family in 1902. But as time drove on, the grand mansion on Palm Beach became Florida’s first museum in 1960.
Whitehall’s design was based on Andrew Carnegie’s essay “The Gospel of Wealth,” in which he describes the types of homes powerhouses such as themselves should live in: “It is well, nay essential, for the progress of the race that the houses of some should be homes for all that is highest and best in literature and the arts, and for all the refinements of civilization."
Taken to heart, Whitehall was filled with all the fineries of the Gilded Age—see The Great Gatsby—a shining example of Carnegie’s musings and blueprint for the homes that began sprouting on the barrier island soon afterwards. The museum stays true to Flagler’s vision for Whitehall, with exhibits that encapsulate the era and showcase the fantastic art of the time. The museum is complete with period furnishings (works of art in their own right), costume displays and historical artifacts. The pavilion contains Flagler’s private railcar, Railcar No. 91, built by luxury coachbuilder Jackson and Sharp Co. of Wilmington, Delaware in 1886. Flagler took Railcar No. 91 to Key West in 1912 upon the completion of the Over-Sea Railroad, first seen as “Flagler’s Folly,” but quickly amended to the Eighth Wonder of the World upon completion.
Whitehall is a breathtaking piece of architecture of its own, with a history to entice families to learn more about this National Historical Landmark.
- Admission costs $18 for adults, $10 for youth (aged 13-17) and $3 for children (aged 6-12).
- For more information, call 561-655-2833 or visit flaglermuseum.us.
The Sandoway House Nature Center's humble beginning started as a beachfront home in 1936. The historic home, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, was converted to a public nature center in 1988, preserving and caring for native plants, live animals and a shell collection like none other.
Though small and simple, this house gives the opportunity for visitors to learn in large quantities.
Visitors learn about Florida's environment through guest speakers, nature walks, astronomy night events and summer camp options. Shark feedings take place in the former pool—a unique way to see these creatures, compared to aquariums.
Tortoises walk the yard, sometimes stalking volunteers for a dose of lettuce. One of the center's most beloved animals is Crystal, a blue and yellow Macaw who loves music.
Currently, the Sandoway House is focused on sharks with the ever-popular Shark Months. From June 1 through August 31, guests can check out more than 100 shark and ray jaws, view Hawaiian shark tooth weapons, take part in a fossil dig and more.
- Admission is $4, making this nature experience affordable to bring everyone along.
- Sometimes the best things come in small packages, and that is absolutely the case with this nature center.
- To plan your visit to the Sandoway House, go to sandowayhouse.org.