Florida

 

Miami, Florida

Jungle Island
1111 Parrot Jungle Trail
Miami, FL 33132-1611

(305) 258-6453

http://jungleisland.com

 

Jungle Island hosts a diverse range of animals and animal shows, complete with the standard environmental messages that seems to be required these days.  Yet the animal exhibits are fun and the shows are enjoyable.  They got big cats, birds, penguins and farm animals. Where else can you feed a baby kangaroo?

 

August 2009

Miami Science Museum and

Space Transit Planetarium

3280 S Miami Ave
Miami, FL 33129-2832

(305) 646-4200

http://www.miamisci.org

 

This was a truly enjoyable science museum.  It was easy to find and the exhibits were great. Their temporary exhibit “Crime Scene Insects” was gross enough to enthrall preteens and deep enough to hook the twenty-somethings.  Yes, this is the place where Jack Horkheimer, the Star Hustler is from.

 

August 2009

Gator Park
24050 SW 8th Street
Miami, Florida 33194

1-800-559-2205
305-559-2255

http://www.gatorpark.com

 

An airboat ride is a good way to see what the everglades swamp it really like.  There are several proprietors along the highway West of Miami.  This one had a reasonably good ride into the park, though we understand that those that don’t enter Everglades National Park can do more to entice the gators and turtles to show themselves (marshmallows and such).. After the airboat ride, Gator Park had a short gator show, complete with a baby alligator you can touch.  The guide showed how he could pull his hand away from a snapping gator without losing it.  Don’t try this at home, indeed!

 

August 2009

 

Everglades, Florida

Everglades National Park

40001 State Road 9336
Homestead, FL 33034-6733

(305) 242-7700

http://www.nps.gov/ever

 

The everglades are not all swamp, there is a road and boardwalks to see the wildlife.  There are plenty of gators to see, but you really need to protect yourself from the mosquitoes.  They seem to be worst at the visitor center, where you can buy repellant.

 

August 2009

 

Key West, Florida

Key West Shipwreck Historeum Museum

1 Whitehead Street

Key West, Florida 33040

(305) 292-8990

http://www.shipwreckhistoreum.com/

 

 

August 2009

This is probably the most entertaining way to learn the history of Key West.  Key West made its living originally by salvaging wrecks in the Caribbean. The museum employs actors playing the parts of the main characters in the history of the town.  The actors lead you into the museum and answer questions in character.

 

 

Key Largo, Florida

Dolphin Cove

Mile Marker 101.9

Bay Side

Key Largo, FL 33037
1-877-365-2683 

http://www.dolphinscove.com/

 

This is a for-profit organization with a strong environmental message.  They let you swim with dolphins both in a structured way, with the trainers instructing the dolphins to pull you around or jump around you, and also in an unstructured swim, where you swim around the lagoon with the dolphins.  Both are nice, but we preferred the unstructured swim, where you swim in the lagoon and the dolphins swim with you.  One issue: the lagoon is rather murky.  You only see the dolphins when they are within a couple feet of you.

 

August 2009

 

 

Tampa, Florida

Big Cat Rescue

12802 Easy St.

Tampa, FL 33625

813.920.4130

http://www.BigCatRescue.org

 

Big Cat Rescue is an educational sanctuary and a home for more than 100 big cats.  The city has grown around it, so now they are at the end of the dirt road between the expressway and the shopping mall.  They give tours, but their mission is to care for these cats rather than entertain with them.  Some of the animals are quiet elegant.  It is difficult to observe them, knowing they are housed here for the rest of their lives.  The are wild animals that cannot live in the wild.

August 2009

Museum of Science and Industry (MOSI)

4801 E. Fowler Avenue

Tampa, Florida 33617
(813) 987-6100

http://www.mosi.org

 

We arrived on a big day for school kids.  There were booths and kids everywhere.  We liked the simulators of various natural disasters: hurricane, earthquake, tornado, wild fire.  A special treat was the lightning box: put your hand in a metal mesh glove and watch it get hit by an electric arc.  We also liked the animation room, which contained equipment to make your own animation, from stop-action to Matrix.  Our only negative was the butterfly garden was closed when we went there.

 

August 2009

Busch Gardens

10165 N McKinley Dr
Tampa, FL 33612

1-888-800-5447

http://www.buschgardens.com/BGT2/

 

Busch Gardens is a combination between a theme park and a wild-animal park.  There are thrill rides and kiddie rides, but also you can take the skyway over Elephants and Ostriches, ride the train past Rhinos and Zebras.  Stop and watch otters and cockatoos.  Signs explain about the animals.  The staff is well-trained in the conservation themes.

 

August 2009

 

St. Peterburg, Florida

Ghost Tour St. Petersburg

119 2nd St N
Saint Petersburg, FL 33701

http://www.ghosttour.net/stpetersburg.html

727.894.4678

 

 

August 2009

The tour has no real address, you meet at the café at dusk and a sincere-sounding woman relates bits of history of St. Petersburg while she spins spooky tales.  Our guide was a self-described “paranormal investigator” who did not buy all ghost tales, but she tended to assume supernatural unless proven otherwise.  On our tour, a ghostly coughing sound - in a building that “had been a hospital long ago!” - actually came through a ventilation duct.  There is a real need for critical thinking in this country.

 

 

Cape Canaveral, Florida

Jetty Park

400 Jetty Road

Cape Canaveral, Florida 32920

321-783-7111

http://www.jettypark.org/

 

 

August 2009

This is the park just across the inlet from the launch facility at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.  The pier is the best place to watch the unmanned launches.  They have camping there, too, so you can get a spot for those midnight launches, too.

 

Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex

SR 405

Kennedy Space Center, FL 32899
321.867.5000

(866) 737-5235

 

http://www.kennedyspacecenter.com/

http://www.nasa.gov/centers/kennedy

 

This is the launch site for Apollo and the Space Shuttle, and soon the Orion as well.  The center provides a lengthy tour of the facility with three major stops to see the launch sites, the Apollo-era control room and hardware and the assembly building for space station and Orion components.  He center also has a simulator so you can feel a launch (though not as rough as the real thing) and an enormous collection of space hardware, from 1960s rockets in the “rocket garden” to checklists from moon landings.  Truly inspirational.

 

August 2009

 

 

United States Astronaut Hall of Fame

6225 Vectorspace Blvd

Titusville, FL‎ 32780

(321) 269-6100‎

http://www.kennedyspacecenter.com/astronaut-hall-of-fame

 

Included in your Kennedy Space Center  admission and located about ten minutes drive West of the KSC Visitor center in Titusville, FL, this is not to be missed.  Much more than pictures and biographies, the Hall of Fame includes taped interviews with astronauts (stunning details), displays on the history of the US space program, hands-on experiences (up to 4G in the flight simulator!).  The Kennedy Space Center and the Hall of Fame might be too much to do in one day, but that’s OK, because your admission is good the next day.

 

August 2009

 

Orlando, Florida

Orlando Science Center

777 E Princeton St
Orlando, FL 32803-1291

(407) 514-2000
 http://osc.org

 

Most people head straight to Disney World and miss a great science museum in Orlando.  We got a thrill at the alligator pond (yes, real gators), and the kid-friendly hand’s on exhibits were a thrill, even for older teens.   The museum includes a gravity raceway as well as racing and flight simulators.

 

August 2009

Aquatica

5800 Water Play Way

Orlando, FL 32821

1-888-800-5447

http://www.aquaticabyseaworld.com/

 

 

August 2009

Aquatica is operated by Seaworld and is located adjacent to Seaworld.  It is advertised as a water park with a waterslide that takes your through their dolphin tank.  Unfortunately, you are moving too fast to see the dolphins, so just enjoy the slide.  A fun place for preteen to adult, there are none of the animal shows or ecology messages of the animal parks.

Wonderworks

9067 International Drive
Orlando, FL 32819

(407)351-8800

http://www.wonderworksonline.com/

 

They’ve taken some of the best science-oriented hand-on displays and put them here. Attractions include bed-of-nails, baseball pitch, earthquake room, full-motion flight simulators, virtual games and an estimate of your lifestyle-adjusted age.  The most unusual was a game where you use brainwaves to move a ball in competition with a friend.  The difficulty is that a more relaxed mental state works better.  Some attractions have explanations of the science behind them.  Most leave the curious to wonder.

 

August 2009

 

Jensen Beach, Florida

St. Lucie Nuclear Power Plant and Energy Encounter

6501 South Ocean Drive
Highway A1A, Gate B
Jensen Beach, FL 34957

(772) 468-4111
1-877-375-4386

http://www.fpl.com/community/learning/energy_encounter_overview.shtml

 

The Energy Encounter is located on the site of the St. Lucie Nuclear Power Plant.  It is a small museum targeted to middle-school-age kids.  Movies and displays explain electricity generation and use.  All of Florida Power and Light’s generation mechanism are represented. There is also a treasure hunt and Q/A booths to check your knowledge.  We really liked the movie of the mousetraps to explain chain reactions.  Our teenagers loved the puzzle room.

 

August 2009

 

West Palm Beach, Florida

South Florida Science Museum

4801 Dreher Trail N
West Palm Beach, FL 33405-3017

(561) 832-1988

http://www.sfsm.org/

 

 

August 2009

We were able to see only a small part of the museum due to time constraints.  The aquarium was great as was the ball-rolling slide.  The unique feature we saw was the computerized-aging booth.  If you are brave, see what you will look like in 20 years.