The humidity is lower than normal. The mercury has dipped enough to enjoy the cool ocean breezes in sunny South Florida. This is the perfect weather to plan a trip to enjoy the natural beauty of some of the area's most picturesque and serene gardens.
Ann Norton Sculpture Gardens
This local and national treasure is the brainchild of sculptor Ann Weaver Norton. The Ann Norton Sculpture Gardens is surrounded by Norton's artist studio and historic home. Located in West Palm Beach, the sanctuary features more than 100 works in brick, bronze, stone and wood by Norton in the 1.7-acre estate. Wander through the beautiful tropical and subtropical plants and take in the sunsets over the Intracoastal Waterway from this garden that is home to one of the largest collection of rare palms in the United States.
Norton's home, now a museum, offers several changing exhibits throughout the year. It is a great place to pack a picnic, relax or read a book. 2051 S. Flagler Drive, West Palm Beach, 561.832.5328
Bonnet House Museum and Gardens
Built by Frederic Clay Bartlett in 1920, the Bonnet House Museum and Gardens was a winter retreat embellished with artistic elements that Frederic and his wife, Evelyn, picked out over their years of marriage. The house is preserved and maintained in its original state, with original furnishings and artwork. The surrounding grounds are home to native barrier island vegetation, including the Yellow Bonnet Water Lily, in addition to one of the largest orchid collections in the Southeast U.S. 900 N. Birch Road, Fort Lauderdale, 954.563.5393
Visit the largest butterfly park in the world and marvel at the acres of butterflies and exotic birds. Butterfly World boasts some 10,000 species in its aviaries and gardens. The place abounds with passion flowers and other nectar-rich plants. Home to hummimgbirds, visitors to this outdoor oasis can enjoy the waterfalls, passion vines and roses of this natural habitat. 3600 W. Sample Road, Coconut Creek, 954.977.4400.
Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden
A treasure since 1938, Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden is the largest such garden in the continental U.S. The grounds feature a lush landscape of tropical plants, a rare fruit pavilion, arboretum and exhibits. It is a tourist mecca and a photographer's delight. A tram tour takes visitors all over the beautiful grounds, which are dotted with 11 lakes. 10901 Old Cutler Road, Miami, 305.667.1651
Flamingo Gardens is 60 acres of tropical paradise. Its botanical gardens showcase over 3000 species of rare and exotic, tropical, subtropical, and native plants and the arboretum contains some of the largest trees in the state of Florida. This unique attraction is now listed as a Broward Cultural Heritage Landmark and the Wray Home on the property is a register Historical Landmark with the state of Florida. As a museum it provides visitors with a glimpse of life into the 1930s. 3750 S. Flamingo Road, Davie, 954.473.2955
Located on Biscayne Bay in Coconut Grove, The Kampong, part of The National Tropical Botanic Garden, is a six-acre tropical garden filled with plants not found in many other places, exotic trees, wildly colorful flowers and more than 50 varieties of mango. This Asian-inspired waterfront estate offers stunning views of the Miami skyline and Key Biscayne. Tours available by appointment. 4013 S. Douglas Rd., Miami, 305.442.7169
Miami Beach Botanical Garden
A 2.6-acre lushly landscaped oasis just blocks from South Beach, the Miami Beach Botanical Garden showcases native Florida plants and trees including orchids, palms and bromeliads. Other highlights include a Japanese garden, water ponds and an edible garden. 2000 Convention Center Dr., Miami Beach, 305.673.7256
Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens
Explore the 200 acres of gardens that surround the Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens, home to over 5,000 Japanese art objects and artifacts. The gardens are a maze of bonsai collections, resting areas, picnic benches, nature trails and pine forests as well as small lakes filled with koi, designed by landscape architect Hoishi Kurisu, called Roji-en: Garden of the Drops of Dew. The serene grounds are a treat for the eyes and a source of relaxation for the spirit. You'll also find exhibits, a library, theater, museum store and cafe within the museum complex. 4000 Morikami Park Road, Delray Beach, 561.495.0233
Mounts Botanical Garden
One of the most beautiful environments to admire South Florida's nature in Palm Beach County. With 14 acres of gardens showcasing flowering trees and shrubs, rare tropical fruit trees, bromeliads, palms, herbs, a vegetable garden, butterfly garden, rose garden, reflection pond and much more. Plants from six continents grace Mounts Botanical Garden where it draws large crowds for its plant sales, family festivals and other events. 531 N. Military Trail, West Palm Beach, 561.233.1757
Vizcaya Museum and Gardens
Completed in 1922 as the private winter estate for millionaire and American industrialist James Deering, Vizcaya Museum and Gardens, a National Historic Landmark, welcomes everyone to explore its European-inspired gardens and 18th century style Italian villa. Stroll past the Main House to see the gallery of orchids in the David A. Klein Orchidarium and the subtropical forest where 400-year-old trees stand. 3251 S. Miami Ave., Miami, 305.250.9133