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.
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.
More than 130 cast members pirouette across a wintry stage to recreate the classic, fantastical children's ballet tale that has drawn sold-out crowds for the last 12 years to the Coral Springs Arts Center. From enclosed balcony seats inside the 1,471-seat theater, audiences follow Clara, a young girl who shrinks into a dreamscape beneath her family's tree on Christmas Eve. The enchanting score by Tchaikovsky whisks ears through flakes that flutter and zambonis that drive Clara and the Nutcracker Prince across the Land of Snow. Eyes chase the elaborate choreography as dancers leap over the stage during famed scenes such as the battle between the toy soldiers and evil Mouse King. When the Sugar Plum Fairy escorts Clara and her prince through her own kingdom in the second act, hearts will swoon and tongues will mimic doormats before the pixie monarch's sugar-encrusted slippers.
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.
The Museum of Discovery and Science ensures that adults as well as children have opportunities to explore diverse fields in the natural and physical sciences. Museum visitors who prefer to experience action on the big screen can drop into the AutoNation IMAX 3D Theater, which boasts a 15,000 watt, 42-speaker digital surround sound system. Opened in 1992, the 300-seat theater dazzles audiences via a five-story-hight screen that features both 2D and 3D films. Crowds view the latter using lightweight XR 3D glasses for highly evolved thrills.
The Museum of Art Fort Lauderdale has come a long way since its original 1958 incarnation as the Junior League's Fort Lauderdale Art Center, housed in a former hardware store. A fire in 1967 prompted the center to relocate to a temporary home in a former annex to what is now Nova Southeastern University—an institution with which the museum would later forge an intellectual and cross-disciplinary association. The museum as patrons know it today was designed by American architect Edward Larrabee Barnes and opened to the public in 1986. Within its bright-white exterior—with color apparently overflowing from its top, dripping down across the sides—stands a permanent collection of more than 6,000 pieces, including a significant body of work by early-20th-century American painter William Glackens. Other art in residence includes Picasso ceramics, creations of the northern European COBRA movement, and works from more than 90 contemporary Cuban artists in exile around the world.
After exploring the varying aesthetics of temporary exhibitions, guests can grab a bite to eat and question what makes a sandwich “art” in the café area of the Books & Books store. Adults and kids dive deeper into art via gallery talks, storytelling, and hands-on activities, as well as art-academy classes taught by locally and nationally renowned artists.
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.