Palm Beach County can be a great place to be a kid. The Rapids water park is one crazy good time, Lion Country Safari can create memories that will last a lifetime, and spring training at Roger Dean Stadium gives youngsters some of their first experience with America’s pastime. To help plan a fun filled afternoon or weekend with the tots, palmbeachillustrated.com put together a list of north county’s offerings for kids of all ages.
Join your toddler for an afternoon of music and bonding with Tracie’s Music Together. An adherent of the Music Together program, which encourages the growth of each child’s inner musician through a “playful, developmentally appropriate, nonperformance-oriented learning environment that is musically rich yet immediately accessible to the child’s and parent’s participation.” The program, which was developed in the late 1980s and is now taught throughout the world, is designed for children to achieve basic music competence (sing in tune and move with accurate rhythm) with the participation of the most important role model in their lives, their parent/caregiver, who are actively making music with the child, regardless of musical ability.
Encouraging the musical growth of children in the northern Palm Beaches, Tracie’s Music Together is the perfect place to bring your child for an afternoon of fun and musical learning. The classes, which meet once a week for 45 minutes, have parent/caregiver and child “sing and move to songs and rhythmic rhymes in a variety of meters and tonalities by participating in activities that include small and large movement, instrument play-alongs and community singing.” Children, from as young as infants through kindergarten, participate at their own developmental levels and not only learn to harness their inner musician, but also, through the class setting, focus social skills and develop interpersonal relationships with classmates. Adult participation is critical for these classes, so be prepared to let out your inner child! Two locations, traciesmusictogether.com
Get the preschoolers moving and develop an appreciation for Swan Lake at an early age with ballet lessons from the Palm Beach Ballet Center.
A Palm Beach staple for more than five decades, Palm Beach Ballet Center has taught generations of dancers, some going on to illustrious careers with dance, while others garnered an appreciation for dance that will last a lifetime, with classes that range from tykes to senior company workshops. The preschooler classes, geared for ages 3 to 4, offer ballet and a ballet/tap combo class (age 4) with Gena Costello, a veteran ballet instructor. Children learn the basics of ballet and movement, develop social skills within a class-like setting and even perform a recital for parents. Classes are one hour every Saturday, and cost $60 per month. Palm Beach Baller Center, 736 Park Avenue, Lake Park, 561-844-6603, pbballet.com
Wild Palm Beach
For many of us, the wilds of Florida have come to represent many things. The screech of an osprey while spying on fish from a solitary branch, the hoot of a great horned owl echoing through a pine forest, or the iridescent shimmering eyes of a raccoon at night each evokes their own powerful image. But for many, natural Florida has been relegated to pests knocking over garbage cans, scurrying roaches the size of chickens and the insistent whir of mosquitoes. Luckily, =Palm Beach County has a handful of organizations aimed to protect and educate about the last few vestiges of wilderness, all with a mission of conservation for the future.
What started as a rehabilitation center for sick, orphaned or injured wildlife in 1983 has grown into a sanctuary where the public can observe Florida’s native wildlife and ecosystems. The Busch Wildlife Sanctuary in Jupiter continues to provide free medical and rehabilitative care to wild animals, but has added an education program to help visitors understand the native, wild neighbors we all share our homes with.
Set up like a small zoo, visitors can take guided tours or explore the sanctuary at their own pace. Daily educational activities include wildlife encounters, feedings and special programs geared toward raptors and snakes. On Wednesday at 9:30 a.m., Busch Wildlife Sanctuary hosts story time for toddlers, both educational and entertaining. 2500 Jupiter Park Dr., Jupiter, 33458, 561-575-3399, buschwildlife.com
It’s never too early to become a steward of the sea. The Loggerhead Marinelife Center (LMC) not only helps rehabilitate sick and injured sea turtles, but also educates the public, young and old, about our seafaring neighbors, the marine ecosystem off our shores and ways to conserve the last few vestiges of wild blue left.
= LMC’s mission to “promote conservation of Florida’s coastal ecosystems with a special focus on sea turtle education, research and rehabilitation,” starts with youngsters. As the only turtle hospital in the area, LMC’s tanks house rehabilitating injured turtles and hatchlings that have lost their way to sea. This gives children and adults a rare opportunity to see sea turtles up close and learn about these prehistoric creatures. The center also has interactive kiosks where visitors can discover the secrets of sea turtle’s life cycle, learn about the ecosystems wild turtles inhabit and about the creatures the turtles encounter on their arduous journey through life at sea. With a range of classes and outdoor activities, the LMC is making impacts not only on children’s lives but the sustainability on this ancient seafaring species.
= During turtle nesting season (March through September), thousands of turtles make the journey to South Florida’s shores to lay their eggs, a trek marked in their DNA, made by generations reaching back millions of years. The beaches from Juno Beach to Tequesta, a 9.8-mile range, fall under the LMC jurisdiction—one of the busiest turtle nesting stretches of beach in the world. During June and July (the height of loggerhead nesting season), LMC gives guided nighttime Turtle Walks where hikers can observe green, loggerhead and leatherback turtles lay their eggs.14200 U.S. Hwy. 1, Juno Beach, 33408, 561-627-8280, marinelife.org
Playmobil FunPark in West Palm Beach is like walking into a toy chest. =The castle located on Military Trail is broken into different playgrounds, each taking on different Playmobil themes with tons of toys to play with. Imaginations run wild as kids and parents take to each playground, immersing themselves in the role of swashbuckling pirate, tilling the fields as a farmer, leading the chivalrous life of a knight, riding the rails as the conductor of a train or hosting a tea party at the dollhouse. Different Playmobil sets, complete with characters, accessories and play lands dot the playgrounds, giving kids a chance to play with the toys with other children, helping them learn that all to important skill, sharing. 8031 N. Military Trail., Palm Beach Gardens, 33410, 561-691-9880
If you are in to the mood for a cup of joe, perhaps a panini, a place to cruise the= Net and let the kids run wild in a supervised playground, then A Latte Fun Indoor Playground & Café is the place to be. The indoor playground is equipped with an inflatable slide, foam pit, ground-level trampoline, tree house fort and pretend areas, which are suitable for kids of all ages—there is even a designated area for toddlers under the age of 2. The beauty of A Latte Fun is that parent, grandparent or caregiver can join in on the fun, accompanying the child in the playground, or enjoy a cup of coffee or two as the Certified Play Monitors supervise the playground activities. With two locations in Palm Beach County, A Latte Fun is certainly changing the notion of hyperactivity and coffee. Various locations, alattefun.com
The ultimate kids club has opened its doors in Abacoa. The Purple Slide is part jungle gym, part adventure land, part camp and part education workshop. The indoor playground lets kids, ages 2 and up, unwind in a controlled environment, while toddlers can explore the infant area—a safe, large and bright area with a ball pit, toys and a padded floor to ensure no boo-boo happenings on The Purple Slide’s watch.
The Purple Slide has a wide array of classes and tutor workshops available for children of all ages. Starting with Baby & Me classes (1-2 years old) to classes geared toward toddlers like Curious Climbers (2-3 years), Dynamic Discoverers (3-4 years) and Controlled Chaos (2-5 years), classes progress as ages increase with dance classes (Tiny Dancers, Hip Hop and Cheertastic), karate, educational outlets like Spanish Adventures, math and reading tutors, Homework Help and FCAT Boot Camp. There are even classes geared for adults, with Scrapbooking for Parents and Hot Mom dance classes. 1209 Main St., Jupiter, 33458, 561-249-2335, thepurpleslide.com
Few things are more exciting then going to your first baseball game (except maybe Disney). The crack of the bat, the smell of the grass, =the sound of the crowd, your first ballpark hotdog all create lasting memories, but none are as important as those of the bonding experience between child and parent/caregiver; it is not only something the child will remember until they are old and gray, recreating the same moment with children of their own, but an afternoon parents hold near and dear as the over-sized baseball cap is constantly adjusted and questions about the rules of the game slowly take affect and the child’s attention becomes riveted on America’s pastime; it is a tradition that has become an American rite of passage where father takes son and/or daughter, glove in hand, into the ballpark for the first time. Here in Palm Beach County, there are options for taking the tyke to their first game.
Come April, the newly dubbed Miami Marlins christen their new super park in downtown Miami. Though a distance, a trip to the new stadium is a must for any South Florida fair-weather sports fan. The new stadium will be quite the scene, and it is air conditioned, so no more sticking to those plastic seats at Sun Life Stadium in the dead of August!
But for those who do not want to make the trek south, Jupiter’s Roger Dean Stadium is just the place. Home site of the Miami Marlins and world champ Saint Louis Cardinals spring training, the stadium and surrounding diamonds come alive every March with Major= League superstars, utility players, prospects and fans. Kids play hooky from school, vying for autographed baseballs and cards, and enjoy heated exhibition matches as players contend for roster spots.
Once spring training ends in April and the MLB teams begin their grueling 162-game season, Roger Dean hosts the Marlins and Cardinals Single-A clubs, the Jupiter Hammerheads and the Palm Beach Cardinals respectively. Playing in the Florida State League, games run from April through September. With plenty of special event ticket specials, music and fireworks following Saturday evening games and family fun-day Sunday events, a day at the ballpark is a great experience for the whole family. And for kids under 15, joining the Knothole Gang ($20) is not only fun but also economical, with free admission, hotdog and soda on Tuesday night games, a t-shirt, attendance prizes and a bundle of additional rewards in and out of the stadium. 4751 Main St., Jupiter, 33458, 561-775-1818, rogerdeanstadium.com