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.
Within Art Connection's 45,000-square-foot factory, showroom, and production facility, patrons can sift through a vast collection of decorative prints and posters that include both classic and contemporary art. Enlist a 30"x24" print of Monet's Impression, Sunrise ($16.99) or Picasso's Violin and Guitar ($17.99) to teach dry wall about Impressionism, Cubism, and cultural elitism. A 35"x35" museum-quality print of Tuscan Summer ($60.99) can help to gussy up a drab cubicle, whereas a 22"x34" poster featuring The Office characters ($9.99) can bring workday doldrums into a painstakingly pleasant living room. Attract two-dimensional bees with a poster from Art Connection's extensive floral collection, then peruse the vast collection of frames for a portrait protector to keep it safe from roaming dust mites and ice-cream-wielding 4-year-olds.
Art-Sea Living owner Babs Lentz caught the entrepreneurial bug at age 12, when she helped her father sell his car for $200 more than what he was asking. But Lentz has always intertwined her business savvy with free-spirit artistry, creating a children’s clothing line, designing jewelry, and opening the Art-Sea Living boutique gallery. Inside this welcoming studio, Lentz displays her own handmade creations as well as items from other local designers. Above all, she believes that art can be a great healer. Visitors can unleash their own inner artists during pottery-painting sessions, clay-sculpting classes, and watercolor studies. And for special events, Art-Sea Living can bring its studio on wheels to your party, offering paint-your-own pottery, wineglass painting, and more.
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.
At Artful Dreamers Studio, artist Nadine Hamil evokes attendees' inner artists with sundry workshops that encourage creativity to flourish. During 90-minute kids' creative-art classes, tykes romp through the airy, bright studio painting on easels and donning masks with their imaginary friend, Van Gogh. Three-hour Intuitive Painting classes allow students to relinquish creative restraint and artistically express themselves. Two-hour wine-and-painting classes encourage patrons to imbibe and doodle with provided art supplies for the most inspired combination of art and alcohol since Michelangelo painted the ceiling of his local bar and grill.
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.