Fort Lauderdale Animal Sights

Where the Wild Things Are

Fort Lauderdale borders the marshes, swamplands, and mangrove jungles of the Everglades, the largest subtropical wilderness in the U.S. Families can get up close and personal with the Everglades' inhabitants, mainly alligators, at Holiday Everglades Park and Sawgrass Recreation Park, both of which offer airboat tours about 40 minutes from Fort Lauderdale.

At Billie Swamp Safari , the airboat tour took us through tangled mangrove forests as several alligators glided past only feet from the side of the boat. During the wet season, May through October, swamp buggies ride through the wetlands for a unique view of gators and other wildlife. During the dry season, November to April, there's nothing much to see on the swamp buggy tour but imported animals like Asian water buffalo, wild hogs, ostriches, and bison. Alligator shows, campfire stories, and spending the night in an authentic chickee hut are a few of the additional activities families can do. Make sure you try the Gator Tots, made from real alligator tail, at the Swamp Water CafÃÆ'©. Billie Swamp Safari is about an hour and fifteen minutes from Fort Lauderdale, but spotting gators in the canals along the road helps pass the time.

Jewels of the Sky

Caleb just stared as hundreds of beautiful butterflies fluttered around his head. He would spot one resting on a leaf or flower and chirp excitedly, "Utterfly! Utterfly!" We all enjoyed the three acres of aviaries and gardens at Butterfly World, the largest butterfly house in North America. Kids especially will love the Bug Zoo, featuring live exotic bugs, spiders, and scorpions from around the world, and the Loorikeet Encounter, where kids can feed the jewel-toned birds as the birds alight on their arms and shoulders.

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