In 1989, Young At Art began as a small, 3,200-square-foot children’s museum dedicated to shaping young minds and enriching the community through the transformative power of art. Since then, the tiny workshop has grown into a 55,000-square-foot collection of activities celebrating the diverse influences of art on our lives and imaginations, garnering a rare accreditation by the American Association of Museums for its efforts. At ArtScapes—one of the four main exhibits—kids and their parents travel through The Cave, a frantic slideshow of images conveying 5,000 years of human history, step into a replica of a New York City subway car, and view examples of graffiti as a means of creative expression against the oppressive forces of aluminum spray cans.
Elsewhere, WonderScapes transports children up to 4 years old to a world inspired by the illustrations of DeLoss McGraw, whose version of Alice in Wonderland won the Society of Illustrators Book of the Year award in 2002, and GreenScapes demonstrates the immutable intersection of art and the environment as visitors build sculptures from natural materials. Never ones to ignore their creativity, teenagers can find refuge in the Teen Center, where a graphic design lab with Mac computers and a recording studio let them convert their pre-calc homework into digital form before it’s too late.
For 17 years, Flamingo Gardens has gathered plant experts, landscapers, and other gardening connoisseurs to its annual festival. This year, the Broward Bonsai Society joins in the fun with an exhibition of the varied shapes and levels of perfection its miniature trees can hold. Displays from Alexander Farms, Greenhouse Orchids, and other vendors entice the eyes while guests wander about, taking in colorful performances from butterfly stilt-walkers and West African drummers. At the Butterfly Encounter, guests learn lepidopterist lore from expert Mike Rich while feeding live butterflies and teaching them about the updated food pyramid.
Wee ones, meanwhile, can head to the Kids Gardening Zone to decorate their own pots and plant a seed or romp through the gardens on a scavenger hunt. Plant experts also hold classes and demonstrations, including "Mounting Orchids & Basic Orchid Culture," and take guests on guided tours through the botanical gardens.
Though Elite International Dance Academy began with only a few classes and a handful of students, the studio earned a growing following with its combination of accessible instruction and enthusiastic teachers. Since its opening, the studio has tripled its curriculum to include 15 dance styles, including the hustle, fox trot, belly dancing, bachata, and salsa. Both kids and adults gather in the academy’s noncompetitive environment, where instructors teach dance steps with easy-to-follow directions. The schedule also includes summer camps and workshops, as well as Zumba classes—cardio workouts using Latin-inspired dance routines to sizzle more calories than toasting marshmallows dipped in lighter fluid.
While it's accurate to call The Davie Ranch an equestrian facility, that title sells the ranch seriously short. That's because the 10-acre farm is home to not only horses and ponies, but also a range of cute baby critters in the petting zoo, from sheep, goats, and miniature horses to hedgehogs and chicks. It's pretty welcoming to humans, too. A 6,000-square-foot stable serves as the centerpiece for the daily activities and protects visitors when rain clouds threaten or a giant wooden horse mysteriously appears in the driveway. Inside, creature comforts abound, including picnic tables, a stage for live performances, a dance floor, and small rooms ideal for birthday parties.
Within an expansive 18,000-square-foot gymnasium, leotard-clad children and adults spring from gymnast equipment, honing skills for tumbling and trapeze to dance and overall fitness. Nova programs transform all ages of bodies with lessons from current and ex-circus performers, and the staff opens their doors after school for kids to come and play while developing cognitive, motor, and social skills. The camps are a crash course in gymnastics—extremely useful when escaping bears in a wooded forest—and the gym hosts birthday parties by granting access to trampolines, bounce houses, and rock-climbing areas.
Thirty-five thousand square feet is a lot of ground to cover. That's why families could spend an entire day at Kabooms' newly remodeled facility without blinking an eye. They can glide around a rink on rented roller skates, leap inside an inflatable bounce house, or test their skills in the Old West style shooting range. Meanwhile, winning redemption games in the arcade gives players a chance to choose from a wall of prizes, which features sports jerseys, stuffed toys, and even electronics. The center is also a fun place to celebrate birthdays, or parties for any occasion.