Boca Raton Children's Museum, located inside a quaint home built by hand around 1913, unfurls an array of exhibits designed to feed children's creativity and enhance critical-thinking skills. Visitors venture to Dr. Dig's Back-Porch to learn about artifacts and fossils, stage dramas in a miniature theater with hand puppets, or head to the Faces Multicultural Room to play musical instruments and play dress-up with garments from around the world. They can also wheel pintsize shopping carts through a replica of Boca Raton's first grocery store, where orange juice was invented, or chart a course across the lawn's grasses aboard an outdoor pirate-ship fort. The museum has recently added a gift and snack shop, and also offers classes that teach nonverbal tots to use sign language and summer camps that provide opportunities for play and learning in a group setting.
Two floors of interactive exhibits help the Schoolhouse Children's Museum and Learning Center teach its pint-sized patrons about the history of the South Florida region. Mini milk-chuggers can indulge their lactose leanings at the Dairy Days exhibit, where they can take a turn milking a cow, whereas tractor-crazy tots might head for the Farmhouse, where they can role-play to learn about local agri-history. A 15-foot model of the Jupiter Lighthouse sports an animatronic clone of pioneer Hannibal Pierce that talks to visiting children during museum hours and sings baritone in the after-hours choir.
Arthur Stone spent six decades assembling the collection of classic Packard autos that makes up the Fort Lauderdale Antique Car Museum. His love for the Packard's combination of engineering and elegance has resulted in the United States' largest Packard collection, containing one model from each year of the company's 58-year existence. The museum's 30,000-square-foot space mirrors the look of a 1920s Packard showroom, with heraldic-style gas-station signs hanging above gleaming specimens of auto history, all restored to full working order.
Models such as the 2201 Woodie wagon from 1948 demonstrate the manufacturer's innovation amid changing times, and the 1909 18 Speedster evokes an era when saddled cheetahs shared roads with cars. Original concept-design drawings line the walls, and an expansive library contains shelves laden with periodicals and fascinating reading materials.
Listed in the National Register of Historic Places and located in the heart of the city, Stranahan House stands as one of the few remaining shadows of Fort Lauderdale’s pioneer heritage. The house was constructed in 1901 by the eponymous Frank Stranahan as a trading post for early settlers, native Seminole Indians, and the now-extinct verbose alligator. After the burgeoning town appropriated it for use as a post office, town hall, and more through the decades, historians painstakingly restored it to its 1913–1915 glory. On three daily tours lasting 45 to 60 minutes, expert guides lead local history buffs through its rooms, detailing the house's multitudinous uses, showing off its Victorian furniture, and offering a glimpse into the vernacular architecture of the bygone era.
The ISHOF Museum houses the world's largest collection of aquatic memorabilia and is the single-largest source of aquatic books, manuscripts, and literature. More than forty exhibits and displays illustrate the history of the aquatically ambitious, recognizing the world's greatest swimming, diving, polo, and synchronized swimming performers and their spotlight-worthy accomplishments. Videos ranging from short informational pieces to coverage of the Olympic games are also available for viewing. Current exhibits include photo murals of the RMS Titanic, the largest collection of Olympic medals won by merpersons dating back to 1896, and a shrine dedicated to the swoonable swim legend Mark Spitz, which consists of a life-size wax statue of the mustached god-among-mortals, seven of his gold medals, and the starting block he used in the 1972 Munich games.
A 90-year-old sanctuary of natural and man-made beauty, the Bonnet House Museum & Gardens provides visitors with a decadent visual buffet comprising numerous artistic media and floral features. Wander the art-filled, ghost-free rooms of the Caribbean-plantation-style house and study the rich collection of easel art, murals, and more. Paintings—including numerous works by the house's former residents, artists Frederic Clay Bartlett and Evelyn Fortune Bartlett—as well as sculpture, furniture, and tableware make the house a pirate-proof aesthetic treasure trove, while five separate ecosystems have shaped the surrounding property into a delicious stew of biodiversity. Stroll nature trails to enjoy the flora and naturally occurring discotheques of mangrove wetlands and a maritime forest, or stop by the orchid showroom to swaddle nature's most needy flower in a comforting blanket of compliments and adoring stares.