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Hot Fun in the Summertime

Hot Fun in the Summertime

Published: 07/01/2011 by Jamie Lober and KiKi Bochi

» Activities
» Family Entertainment

You’ve done the water playgrounds and the movies. You make regular pilgrimages to the library. The kids aren’t quite complaining that they’re bored yet, but you know it’s just a matter of time. So where else can you go for a little summer fun? Living in Broward County, opportunities for adventure, exploration and education abound in our own backyard. You just have to seek them out.

Sandwiches in the Sand

You don’t have to wait until the weekend to go to the beach. A great way to end any day of the week is with a picnic on the sand. In the late afternoon, there are far fewer people building castles on the ocean’s edge, and the beach takes on a peaceful aura. Plus late in the day, it’s easier to find parking. Bring sandwiches (or any other light dinner), and stay until it starts to get dark. At the Hollywood Broadwalk, you can enjoy free music under the stars pretty much every night. Other communities such as Deerfield Beach and Fort Lauderdale also offer events along the beach, but none as often as Hollywood. You’ll feel like you’ve gone on a tropical vacation. It’s a lot more fun than spending the evening watching TV. For a schedule of fun on the HOLLYWOOD BROADWALK, see

Get Down to Earth

Tradewinds Farm was once a horsebreeding and boarding business operated by the McLean family from 1944 to 1975. Now it’s one of Broward County’s most diverse parks. This 627- acre regional park is split in two, on both sides of Sample Road, just west of Florida’s Turnpike. The north side has a very down-home feel, with an educational farm and petting area, a farmhouse museum, guided horse trail rides, pony rides, miles of horse trails, and small fishing lakes. The north side also features the Florida Live Steamers, who operate a miniature steam train on the third weekend of each month. The south side of the park, which was an addition to the land purchased from the McLean family, is more focused on recreation with paths for walking or biking, a fishing lake with pier, an expansive playground and an 18-hole Frisbee disc golf course. Also on the south side is the world renowned Butterfly World, which requires a separate admission. “It is a conservation and science showplace consisting of gardens, flight areas, an insectarium and a butterfly museum,” says Monica Ribaudo, park manager. Most kids love feeding the aviary birds little cups of nectar, and the place has a great gift shop. TRADEWINDS PARK, 3600 W. Sample Rd., Coconut Creek, 954-357-8870

Reach for the Stars

Whatever your child’s age, you can find a show that interests him or her at Buehler Planetarium, located on the central campus of Broward College. For younger kids, there’s Rusty Rocket’s Last Blast, for example. “It is cartoon-like and introduces children to the night sky, which they are curious about,” says Katrina Calle, planetarium specialist. But this isn’t like a regular movie at a theater. It is like watching a dome screen on the ceiling. Older kids might enjoy some of the other shows; check their website for offerings. The price depends on the show, but all are under $7, with most children’s shows between $3-$4. On Wednesday evenings, Buehler Planetarium offers Stories for a Starry Night, followed by a live sky tour at the observatory. The observatory is also open at 8pm on Friday and Saturday evenings. “For viewing, we lay telescopes out on the patio and point to objects in the sky, whether they are planets, moon or stars,” Calle says. Entrance is free at the observatory on public viewing nights. BUEHLER PLANETARIUM, 3501 Davie Rd., Davie, 954-201-6681 See

Take a trek

Pop in a Thomas the Tank Engine DVD, and get ready to be inspired. During the school year, we rarely have time for train trips anywhere. But in the summer, you can easily occupy an afternoon by taking a little trip on Tri-Rail. Making it exciting is all in the preparation. Teach little ones the words to I’ve Been Working on the Railroad, read The Little Engine that Could, enjoy a Thomas marathon (OK, maybe just a few episodes), and talk it up. For older kids, watch Murder on the Orient Express, The Great Train Robbery, or even Trading Places (there’s a great train scene at the end). The whole family can sing The Wheels on the Train Go Round and Round while waiting at the station. And while you’re getting pumped up about mass transit, check out the new interactive kids’ web page for Broward County’s bus system at For more information about TRI-RAIL, see

Go Native

Florida wasn’t always about Disney World and huge adventure parks. Once upon a time, tourists were happily entertained by small roadside spots like the Seminole Native Village, which became a tourist attraction in the 1970s and still operates today. “It is home to rescued alligators, turtles, snakes, Florida panther and South Florida deer,” says Tim Farman, daytime manager. Kids can learn about native Florida species, Seminole history and watch some old-fashioned alligator wrestling. Your child can even hold a baby alligator whose mouth is taped up so it does not bite. If you’re looking for a Sea World-type adventure, forget it. This isn’t the place for you. But if you want to recapture a sense of old Florida, you might want to stop by. “There is something about this that makes it a special place; it has a lot of history,” Farman says. NATIVE VILLAGE, 3551 N. State Rd. 7, Hollywood, 954-961-4519. While you’re at it, you can stop by the exhibits offered by the Seminole Tribe itself at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino. SEMINOLE OKALEE INDIAN VILLAGE, 5716 Seminole Way, Hollywood, 954-797-5588,

Play Swamp Man

If you’re willing to brave the mosquitoes (and what self-respecting Swamp Man with a bottle of repellent isn’t?), summer presents families a chance to enjoy the activities that draw tourists the rest of the year. Among them: Sawgrass Recreation Park, an Everglades outpost and fishing camp best known for its airboat rides. “It glides over the Sawgrass and in between the grass as the airboat captains look for different kinds of birds or fish,” says Christina Schwartzman, director of marketing. You never know what you may find. “We look for gators in the wild, and the captains narrate and talk about the history of the Everglades and the Native Americans,” Schwartzman says. Kids can see a captive gator, as well as meet tortoises, crocodiles, black leopards and other mammals. “All of our animals are adopted, rescued or born in captivity,” Schwartzman says. While at Sawgrass, don’t miss their “Swamp yard Island,” where you can interact and feed many of the animals, including ducks and three tremendous pot-bellied pigs. SAWGRASS RECREATION PARK, 1006 N. US Highway 27, Weston 954-389-0202