Almost 70 years ago, the first U.S. Navy frogmen began underwater demolitions training in the waters around Fort Pierce. Commissioned through an act of Congress and the signature of the president, the National Navy UDT–SEAL Museum now stands where these first training sessions began and documents the evolution of the first volunteers into today's Navy SEALs. Exhibits honor the predecessors to the SEAL program and display artifacts and equipment from combat, including Apollo training vehicles, a Vietnam-era ”Huey” helicopter, and the SEALs' unique water vehicles powered by hardworking seahorses. Also on display are all 10,000 pounds of the fiberglass lifeboat from the 2009 hostage rescue of Richard Phillips, captain of the Maersk Alabama following its hijacking by Somalian pirates. Visitors can also view WWII training obstacles rescued from the ocean floor or take in the names of fallen heroes as they walk on memorial bricks donated by the friends and family of former SEALs. In addition to documenting and honoring past soldiers, the National Navy UTD–SEAL Museum also reaches out to living veterans through their reunions and their partnership with the Wheelchairs for Warriors program.
Two floors of interactive exhibits help the Schoolhouse Children's Museum & Learning Center teach its pintsized patrons about the history of the South Florida region. Kids can take turns milking a cow replica at the Dairy Days exhibit, or activate sneezes with a trip to Pepper Patch Farm, where they can role-play to learn about the pepper-production process. 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.
Northern Palm Beach and southern Martin Counties' oldest and largest visual arts museum, the Lighthouse ArtCenter is a two-building operation featuring a museum and a school of art. Classes for kids and adults, beginner through professional levels, a popular summer camp for kids and diverse and educational exhibits.
• For $20, you get a Kemp's Ridley–level membership, which includes a Turtle Walk discount for one, free or reduced admission to 250 Association of Science-Technology Centers (ASTC) organizations, and a subscription to the "Marinelife Review" newsletter (a $40 value). • For $35, you get a Hawksbill-level membership, which includes discounts on a Turtle Walk for two and LMC's programs, summer camps, and birthday parties; free or reduced admission to 250 ASTC organizations; and a subscription to the "Marinelife Review" newsletter (a $70 value).
Lion Country Safari is a zoo with no cages. Instead, more than 900 animals, including the largest zebra herd outside of Africa, roam its 320 acres freely. During drive-through safaris, cars tour seven sections of the preserve—which represent different areas such as western Zimbabwe and the Serengeti—to see llamas, asiatic water buffalo, chimpanzees, and white rhinoceros. Lions have a section all to themselves so that they don't prey on other animals or disturb them with giggles from the pride's late-night slumber parties.
In addition to the four-mile drive, Lion Country Safari's Safari World allows guests to explore rides and attractions as they visit with animals on foot. They can feed giraffes, practice animal-massage techniques at the petting zoo, or hop on the carousel next to Lake Shanalee's paddleboat rides. After kids splash through the interactive Safari Splash waterpark, they can hop onto the ferris wheel or ask exotic birds for advice on how to fly.
For two weekends every October, the sounds of laughter and German folk music echo across a field in Lake Worth. The American German Club's traditional Oktoberfest celebration, which sprawls across 10 acres under an open-air pavilion and a tent, has been going on for 40 years now and doesn't show any signs of stopping. Each day kicks off with the parade of flags and, sometimes, a ceremonial keg-tapping. Afterward, indoor and outdoor kitchens perpetually sizzle up authentic German bratwurst, leberkäse, and pastries. Meanwhile, bartenders pour four styles of Hofbräu Bier, as well as imported liquors and domestic brews. While vendors display traditional German crafts, the festival's stages erupt with folk-dancing, choral singing, and Bavarian tunes from two German groups, Heldensteiner Band and Die Lustigen Bayern.
Resplendent with creatively displayed, informative exhibits and beaming with an array of interactive events, Sandoway House Nature Center delights visitors eager to engage with wildlife and local ecosystems. Meander through the popular shark exhibit, taking thrilling ganders at now-harmless jaws from more than 80 different species, including a replica of the world-record-holding great white jaw and pictures of it earning its other world record in hot-dog eating. The Florida reptile room showcases a plethora of native slitherers along with a variety of invasive species, and daily shark feedings display the predator's ravenous ferocity. Groupon guests spend their $5 credit at the gift store, and members take advantage of a blanket discount of 15% off goods, stocking up on crack-your-own geodes ($3.50), or grabbing handfuls of mixed fossil shark teeth to create edgy jewelry or exciting dentures ($2/bag). Members also receive free admission to the center for one year, as well as a newsletter and invitations to special events.