|American Orchid Society - 16700 AOS Lane, entrance on Jog Rd. approximately 3 miles north of Yamato Rd. (same location as Morikami Museum) • Delray Beach • (561) 404-2000 •
Claims thousands of orchids complement a serene but exciting botanical paradise, beckoning visitors to explore paths meandering through 3.5 acres of themed gardens and a magnificent display greenhouse.
Actually a rather small location but VERY clean and professionally run. A nice place to take adult tag-alongs e.g. clean toilets, lot's of shade, snacks, etc. But wait, for photographers it gets even better as the greenhouse is fully enclosed and thus affords one of the few places to take nature pictures on a cold or rainy day. Admission is $8.00 and an annual pass is $30.00. Closed Mondays.
Arthur R. Marshall Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge - U.S. 441, north of Atlantic Ave. • Delray Beach • (561) 734-8303 • The marsh trail is a great place to shoot herons, egrets, ibises, alligators and bugs. Just park your car and walk the circular route along the levy. But bring sun protection as there is no shade to be had during the walk. As for fighting crowds, I have never seen many people here, even on holidays and weekends. A fee of $5.00 is charged to private vehicles entering the refuge.
Boynton Beach Mall - Congress Ave. at Old Boynton Rd. • Boynton Beach • 5612-736-7900
With five anchor stores and 140 specialty shops, Boynton Beach Mall is sizeable on its own, but add a slew of other shops from the Boynton Beach Promenade and some from the eastern edge of the mall grounds, and you’ve got a retail community.
The mall is open 10 AM to 9 PM Monday through Saturday and 11 AM to 6 PM on Sunday.
Boynton Beach Municipal Beach - Fla. Hwy. A1A, just north of Ocean Ave. • Boynton Beach • (561) 737-4507
In addition to a beautiful stretch of beach, the area includes a playground, picnic tables, grills and pavilions, snack bar, showers and restrooms.
To reach Blood’s, head west 2 miles off I-95 at the Linton Boulevard exit in Delray Beach.
Butterfly World - 3600 W. Sample Road, just west of FL Turnpike • Coconut Creek • (954) 977-4400 • A great place for shooting butterflies, flowers, and some small exotic birds. VERY clean and professionally run. A nice place to take tag-alongs e.g. music, clean toilets, lot's of shade, snacks, etc. but not much rain cover. So ok for windy days but not rainy days. It's my favorite place for days when rain is threatening because shelter from the rain is never far away. Admission is $18.00 but an annual pass is only $35.00.
Dreher Park Zoo - 1301 Summit Blvd. • West Palm Beach • (561) 547-9453
More than 500 animals, representing 120 species (many endangered), including the Florida panther, roam Dreher Park’s 22 acres.
Shaded walkways and a paved nature trail allow visitors to enjoy the native flora and fauna up close and personal. The park also has a cafe on the premises.
The zoo is open from 9 AM to 5 PM daily, except Thanksgiving, rain or shine.
Green Cay - 12800 Hagen Ranch Road • Boynton Beach • (561) 966-7000 • Located in suburban Delray Beach on the east side of Hagen Ranch Road between Woolbright Road and Atlantic Avenue. 100+ acres of farm land have been transformed by Palm Beach County Water Utilities Department into a wetlands ecosystem. A railed boardwalk with frequent rest stops, some of them shaded, traverses this wildlife habitat. There is also a 9,000-square-foot nature center that includes a turtle pond, frog habitats, an alligator hole and murals depicting what the land, previously the Green Cay Farm, looked like decades ago. Admission is free.
This site just opened in February 2005. But it is developing rapidly and is starting to attract lots birds. I still like it's sister park, Wakodahatchee, better because it has more birds. But at the rate Green Cay is developing, it may soon be my favorite.
Lion Country Safari - Southern Blvd., 15 miles west of I-95 • West Palm Beach • (561) 793-1084
Lion Country’s 500-acre preserve hosts about 1,200 animals. It opened in 1967 as the nation’s first drive-through cageless zoo. Each section has a theme, and the animals are matched to the sections that best represent their natural habitats. Among the animals here are giraffes, zebras, ostriches, water buffaloes, chimpanzees and more.
Lion Country Safari is open daily from 9:30 AM to 5:30 PM. The cost is $13.95 for adults and $9.95 for children ages 3 through 15.
Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens - 4000 Morikami Park Rd., entrance on Jog Rd. approximately 3 miles north of Yamato Rd. • Delray Beach • (561) 495-0233 • The Japanese gardens are a delight to walk through and there are many fine photo ops of flowers and other exotic plants. Admission is $10.00.
Palm Beach Mall - I-95 at Palm Beach Lakes Blvd. • West Palm Beach • 683-9186
Palm Beach Mall is one of the oldest malls in the county and still hums with activity at the crossroads of central Palm Beach. The mall is anchored by Burdines, JCPenney, Lord & Taylor, Mervyn’s and Sears.
Hours are 10 AM to 9 PM Monday through Saturday, noon to 5:30 PM on Sundays.
Sea Mist III - Sea Mist Marina (off Ocean Ave.) • Boynton Beach • (561) 732-9974
The 72-foot all-aluminum Sea Mist III offers year-round fishing excursions for the entire family. There are three trips daily; each trip lasts four hours. The cost is $22 per person, which includes bait, tackle and license.
Wakodahatchee Wetlands - Located in suburban Delray Beach on the east side of Jog Road between Woolbright Road and Atlantic Avenue. Fifty acres of unused utilities land have been transformed by Palm Beach County Water Utilities Department into a wetlands ecosystem and over 140 species of birds have been spotted here. A railed boardwalk with frequent rest stops, some of them shaded, traverses this wildlife habitat. Admission is free.
While I have not seen over 140 species of birds here, there are a lot of Herons and other wading birds. And they are easy to photograph as you can get a lot closer to them than the birds at Loxahatchee. Yes I know, it's like shooting fish in a barrel. But it sure is a great place to try out a new lens or a new shooting technique or just fill a card with 100s of keepers because you can.