South Florida Science Center & Aquarium

The South Florida Science Center & Aquarium

4801 Dreher Trail North
West Palm Beach

Cute, little museum perfect for a rainy day activity. The museum features 5 main exhibits:
1. Grossology exhibit which showcases the human body functions including the digestive system, nasal cavity and gastrointestinal system. All of it is hands on, including walking through the nasal cavity, climbing through the Lower intestines & simulations that emulate how we throw up & pass gas. (The kids loved this!) But all of it was educational.
2. Aquarium featuring nurse sharks, turtles, eels & many more. Also a table for kids to touch & feel sharks’ teeth, jaws & fossils. (My son has a serious obsession with sharks teeth so this pleased him immensely).
3. Florida Everglades exhibit: could be expanded more but it was good for the space they had.
4. Planetarium: This was extra ($5 adult, $3 children) but a nice break from the loud fun.
5. Brain teaser puzzles: very nice interactive & accessible for all ages of children.
Additional things to see: hands on science experiments are offered everyday; a water table for toddlers; a light bright wall; tornado & hurricane simulators; a small fossil dig & a small NASA exhibit.
We spent 3 hours at this place & it’s definitely not at MOSI’s level but it’s way better than Explorations.
Pros: All age appropriate exhibits at kids’ height level too; good from 18 months to 10 years old; sofas are strategically placed throughout for parents;  also has a small cafe & outdoor picnic area for lunch.
Cons: Some of the exhibits could be expanded more, but that’s it.

Insider Tip: On the first weekend of each month, Bank of America cardholders get FREE admission. We went on July 3, a Sunday, and we both have BoA credit cards- I didn’t think they would let both of us in, but they did! So we only paid $11 per child!!

Historic Spanish Point

Historic Spanish Point
337 North Tamiami Trail
Osprey, Fl

$12 per adult
$5 kid
Kids 5 & under are free!
If you like hiking, photography, or are a history buff, you should check out Historic Spanish Point nestled just south of Sarasota.
Spanish Point boasts a walking tour of a 30 acre living museum, including historic structures, artifacts and archaeological exhibits.
Originally 120 acres were given to the Webb family in the late 1800’s in exchange that they begin constructing boats. Over the years between marriages and deals the land was owned and operated by Mrs. Palmer, a widow, who turned the water-front acreage into a working thriving agricultural farm including cattle and citrus.
What remains today was a gift of the estate of Mrs. Palmer, are several guest houses, a church and the citrus packaging building. (Mrs. Palmer’s mansion was torn down unfortunately due to poor conditions.) The houses that remain though are a throwback to the late 1800’s and early 1900’s and all of them have amazing views of the water.

The Guptill house was the first stop on our tour. Lizzie Webb married to Frank Guptill a boat builder and proceeded to build their winter house on the edge of their property with a boat workshop right there. Both the house and boat workshop are in working original condition and are a great stop on this tour. When Mrs. Palmer acquired the land she renamed the house “Hill Cottage” and used it as a guest residence for friends and family visiting.
The aqueduct that Mrs. Palmer created next to Hill Cottage was unfortunately under reconstruction when we were there, but the sheer size of it was impressive to think that it survived over one hundred years.
The “White Cottage” is worth stopping and spending some time at as well. Originally built by Jack Webb the home and grounds are absolutely beautiful!
One interesting thing I noted on the tour, the “White House” sits on a shell midden which was constructed by native Americans. By placing the house on the shell midden it actually provided amazing elevated views of the entire bay as well as raised the house above sea level which allowed cool breezes to flow through the house long before air conditioning.

Mrs. Palmer never lived in this house, but she gifted it to her grandson & his wife.  She did however build the sunken gardens and verandas that surround the house.  My kids found gardens and archways particularly fun to run around, as it still remains today. I could just imagine the parties they had at that house with those amazing views & beautiful gardens. Weddings in face are still held here today.  Actually, had I known about this place ten years ago, I would have begged to have my wedding and ceremony here: on the water, outside, but a house nearby for restrooms and food, plenty of space of dancing and the band…..ahhhh, one can dream.
The last stop we made on our walking tour was the church, known as “Mary’s Chapel.”  A guest of the Webb’s winter home died while on vacation and in her honor they built this chapel. It has 6 beautiful Stained Glass windows and a working bell. It was reconstructed in 1986 and is a popular venue for weddings as well.

I love hidden places like these particularly when I can see the advent of progress in Florida; how the railway, citrus and cattle industries brought new families and new development into Florida and made the cities flourish.  Had we not taken a camping trip to Oscar Scherer State Park, I would have never known it existed!
Pros: Since this is a walking tour and it is spread out significantly, it is nice that most of the buildings have restrooms available.
Cons: This is a walking tour. If you go in the heat of the summer bring lots of water, Walking stick, wear a hat and sunblock.
Insider tip: Eat before you go- there is no place to eat on property. And bring a camera! It’s beautiful!

Pine Island Beach Park

Pine Island Beach Park in Weeki Wachee, Hernando County, Florida

This tucked away, small, and clean beach was unknown to us and discovered only by chance when Weeki Wachee Springs was full to capacity. A parking lot attendant told us about Pine Island Beach just a short jaunt down the road. And it was short but man is it off the beaten path.
Pine Island Beach is a small peninsula beach with one side facing inland waters and salt marshes while the other side faces the Gulf of Mexico.
What separates this beach from others and what cemented it as the cutest, littlest, secretive beach are the amenities. What it lacks in size it makes up for in features, such as a Volleyball net, pavilions with picnic tables, outdoor grills, small wooden lookout (not for fishing), showers, restrooms & a playground shaped like a pirate ship for kids. The small rock jetty & sea wall distinguish this beach as well.
Parking is $5 for the WHOLE day (machine accepts cc or cash) but it is limited which helps keep this locals only beach uncrowded.
We didn’t pack a lunch, just snacks & drinks, as we were expecting to eat at Weeki Wachee Springs, so we were delighted to find that there was a cafe on Pine Island Beach as well. Willy’s Tropical Breeze Cafe, is much more than a beach snack shack. Offering varieties such as fresh fish sandwiches, pick n’ peel shrimp, clam strips, fried okra, zucchini fries, bratwurst and the usual hot dogs, hamburgers, pizza, nachos, milkshakes & more. This is beyond your normal beach fare. The burgers were generous, awesome & decently priced. But bring cash–they don’t accept credit cards. Nor do they serve alcohol.

  • Pros:
    • The shallow water swimming area at low tide is perfect for young kids. You could go out 50 yards and it would still only be at your knees. The clear water was perfect for my older child to practice snorkeling.
    •Its family friendly
    •There is an ATM & vending machines
    •handicapped accessible ramps & restrooms as well as a baby station in restroom.
    • park ranger on duty
    •There are no major hotels or high rises anywhere near by & that is a welcome change. That’s what makes this a great hidden gem.
  • Cons:
    •Limited parking- once it’s full its full. No lifeguard on duty
    •This is not a walking beach; its small & there are no real seashells to collect (classic gulf Florida beach).