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.
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.
At the Art Institute of Weston, master artist Conchita Firgau and her associate professors lead students of all ages in learning the classic style of European painting. Drawing on traditions of color, light, and composition practiced by Renaissance painters, Conchita and her staff give students the confidence and skill to develop their own style. But painting is not the only activity that goes on here. Photography classes help shutterbugs master digital cameras, and guitar classes use fun, easily digestible techniques to give more credibility to students’ air-guitar performances. The friendly studio also hosts after-school programs and camps to hone kids’ artistic talents.
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.
At Fort Lauderdale Stand Up Paddle, owner Tatiana Lovechenko and her team of seasoned instructors guide patrons through informative lessons and scenic tours. Atop the glistening tides of the Florida coast, private coaching sessions equip students with the basic skills important to staying above the water but below the reach of birds' hairbrushes. Teachers also sling essential tips regarding ocean awareness and paddle-boarding etiquette, preparing pupils for apropos small talk with gregarious krakens.