Savannas Preserve State Park

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We decided to step out a few times a week and go on some day hikes instead of just around the block on our daily walks.

This past sunny Saturday morning, Penny and I took a look around the trails at the Savannas Preserve State Park on Walton Road in Port Saint Lucie.

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You can pick up a map at the entrance and get an overview of the trails at the park. It’s also a good idea to familiarize yourself with the markings for the trails you choose to follow.

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Savannas are an endangered natural system of freshwater marshes. This preserve is the largest and most intact remnant of Florida east coast savannas. The park stretches 10 miles from Fort Pierce to Jensen and hosts 8 miles of trails and is open from 8 a.m. to sundown.

Guided walks as well as canoe and kayak tours are available on weekends with reservations required. The park also hosts an environmental center, but I didn’t think I could bring Penny inside for a tour. ; )

You can find more detailed information about navigating the Savannas Preserve online at Florida Hikes.  Happy hiking!

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Oxbow Eco Center

So much to explore and get your hands on and your eyes around at a nature center. We are blessed to locally have “The Oxbow.” I love to watch the wonder in a child’s eye when they experience something for the first time, like standing eye to eye with an otter.

Ever lay your hand across the back of a bobcat? Curious about a crane’s beak? Then head to the Oxbow. Your experience can be different every time. On our last visit, the staff had just received a nest of baby birds that had fallen out of a neighboring tree – we were mesmerized as their little beaks chirped up at us.

Peek through the glass at the snakes and turtles, run your fingers through the sand at the sensory table, take a hike on the trails…all part of a day well spent.

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Loggerhead Marinelife Center

We have been to the Loggerhead Marine Center in Juno Beach numerous times and have enjoyed every trip. Who isn’t enamored by a sea turtle? Most recently we signed up for a summer sea turtle walk at a cost of $17 per person. They do not promise a sighting however, but you will see an informative but looong 2 hour powerpoint slide show while you wait to see if a sea turtle comes ashore and begins to lay eggs.

We experienced a few “false crawls” where the turtles come ashore and then retreat. The center has spotters on the beach in “walkie talkie” contact with the presenter in the center where the group waits. So be prepared to wait until midnight at a slide show for a sighting. We were falling asleep come 11:30pm and still had a 40 minute drive home, so we left early. We learned a lot about turtles though! We brought my 8 year old niece and the age limit is 8 and up with good reason – much late-at-night patience needed and no guarantees. Kids can get disappointed with all the build up and no turtles : (

On day trips you are guaranteed to see the turtles in the tanks and they are an awesome sight to see. The tanks are set up so all ages can peer in and observe the rescued sea turtles, most of them injured in some way and recouperating. On days they release the turtles out to sea, crowds of over 1000 can gather on the beach to watch, so go early if you choose to view a release.

Mostly we just tour the small edu-info center and then visit with the turtles in the tanks outside. They added a fun hands-on “turtle hospital” exhibit that the kids loved. They put on lab coats and, with measuring tapes and calipers in hand, they tend to plastic sea turtles. The little ones lingered there a while day-dreaming about becoming turtle doctors. The entrance fee is a $5 donation per person.

Out back is a park, covered picnic table, and across the street just behind the center is the beach.

You don’t see sea turtles every day, so when you do – it will be a day well spent.

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Palm Beach Zoo at Dreher Park

Winter is best for zoo trips in South Florida. So off we went over winter break and…so did lots of other people! Very crowded, had to kind of wait to see some animals and wait for a table to eat at concession stand, but we still had a fun day. Was glad to have my college daughter and friend home to spend some time with us!

A day well spent at Palm Beach Zoo

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Sugar Sand Science Park

Sugar Sand Science Park is the coolest public park I have ever been to. Where else can you climb a strand of DNA, excavate some dino bones, then go play in a splash area? Nevermind peering through the eyeballs of a giant wooden head or romping around a tri-level wooden fort…FUN STUFF!

But that’s not all. Adjacent to the park is The Children’s Science Explorium, a hands-on interactive science center for kids. Cost is $5 donation to enter.

Wait, it gets even better! The park also has a CAROUSEL! Each ride only $1.

We love this place…day well spent in Boca Raton!

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Kayaking the Loxahatchee

Spend the day paddling the Loxhatchee at Jonathan Dickinson State Park
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What a majestic day and only $15 per kayak rental and 2 hour self guided tour of the Loxahatchee, one of Florida’s most scenic rivers.
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We chose our kayaks, strapped on our life jackets, studied the map and off we went! I highly suggest you bring a ziploc to put the map they give you in to keep dry.

There aren’t many turns to get lost on, but you can get turned around a bit, there are no street signs : ) You are on your own for this trip and that’s part of the excitement as are the gators snorting at you a few feet away from your boat and the Osprey diving for fish around you.

After our paddle we had a picnic lunch under the covered pavilion with picnic tables and a bathroom nearby. We then drove out to the entrance and parked the car and hiked up the Hobe Mountain Tower, the highest natural peak in south Florida (not that high, lol but still scenic.)
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The park has a lot to offer with boat tours, bike paths, and full camping facilities, but paddling the Loxahatchee was what made it a day well spent.
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