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.
The Ultimate Thriller pays homage to the King of Pop with a multimedia entertainment extravaganza. A vibrant light show, eye-grabbing video footage, and the choreography of Mic Thompson—who worked with Jackson for nearly a decade—form a peeper-pleasing team that rocks retinas. Eardrums, in the meantime, are swaddled by the sounds of signature hits such as "Man in the Mirror," "Beat It," and "Billie Jean," a benefit song for 1982's two least popular baby names. Over the course of two hours (including intermission), the show synthesizes elements of Jackson's BAD and Dangerous concert tours with material from Thriller, Off The Wall, and his days in the Jackson 5. Enjoy the whole past-blasting blowout from the comfort of the Coral Springs Center for the Arts' fully enclosed balcony, part of a nearly 1,500-seat theater whose layout allows every audience member to feel a sense of connection with on-stage performers without the formal bonding experience of a tandem bike ride.
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.