KidTripster Teen: My 5 favorite things to do in these two Florida beach towns
When you visit Boca Raton, you don’t feel like you’re in a tourist town. Instead you feel at home in a peaceful paradise. During my latest trip to Boca, we spent a few days exploring nearby Deerfield Beach, as well. Here’s a list of my 5 favorite things to do and beautiful places to visit.
Photo courtesy: Island Water Sports
1/Island Water Sports
Water activities, such as stand-up paddleboarding and surfing, are very popular in Deerfield Beach. Unfortunately, paddleboards and surfboards are quite bulky and tend not to fit in your suitcase! Island Water Sports provides board rentals at reasonable prices. You can rent SUPs, surfboards, skimboards, and bodyboards at hourly or weekly rates. Cost: Varies based on board and length of time.
KidTripster Tip: Island Water Sports also provides free board lessons every Saturday from 7 to 9 a.m. All ages are welcome; however spots fill up quickly, so register online at the beginning of the week. The staff is very encouraging and great with younger kids, as well.
Photo courtesy: Island Water Sports
2/Gumbo Limbo Nature Center
If you’re looking for something fun to do with the family, Gumbo Limbo Nature Center is the place to go. Gumbo Limbo is only a 13-minute drive from Deerfield Beach and is free for visitors. The nature center provides rehabilitation and support to endangered marine animals found along the Florida coast. It focuses the majority of its attention on severely-injured sea turtles. While exploring the facility, the public is allowed to meet some of the turtles and learn more about them. There are also several large aquarium tanks filled with many different species of Floridan marine life. A boardwalk trail takes you through a Floridan nature hammock, filled with native flora and tree species. The trail is only a 1/4-mile and leads to a tower that provides great tree-top views of Boca Raton. If you have the time, go to the butterfly garden to the right of the main buildings; this trail is not well-advertised, which makes it very peaceful without crowds. Cost: Free.
KidTripster Tip: Download scavenger hunts (ages K-5) from the nature center’s website before you come.
Photo courtesy: Gumbo Limbo Nature Center
3/Charm City Burgers
Charm City Burgers, located in Hillsboro Square in Deerfield Beach, is a great place to eat. Every year when we visit Florida, we make it a priority to stop here. Since I traveled this year with two 19-year-olds, a challenge was made as to who could finish a Big Sloppy Burger (double meat, double cheese, double bacon, a hashbrown and a fried egg) the fastest! Even though the challenge ended in food comas for all, we didn’t regret a single bite, because the burgers are just that good! While the restaurant prides itself on having the best burgers in Deerfield, they also serve chicken sandwiches, hot dogs, wings, and milkshakes. Inside, the restaurant is filled with cartoon burger characters, making it cheery and fun.
KidTripster Tip: When you go, make sure to bring your appetite; you may even want to skip a meal to make room!
Photo courtesy: Charm City Burgers
4/Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens
About a 20-minute drive from Deerfield Beach, Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens is another great place to visit. Once inside, a mile-long trail loops around multiple gardens and exposes visitors to authentic Japanese-style greenery, including bamboo forests and sacred rock gardens. There is an audio tour available for purchase; however the natural sounds of the garden are quite calming. While on the trail, you can visit a Bonsai garden and a Japanese museum, where your kids can learn about Japanese cultural traditions. Next to the museum, a pond is home to many turtles, birds, and even a couple alligators. On the day that we visited, it was very hot, so we spent a lot of time sitting by the pond in the shade. Once you finish walking the garden, make sure to check out the cultural exhibits in the visitors center. Cost: Youth (6-17) $9; College student (with ID) $11; Adult $15; closed on Mondays.
KidTripster Tip: If you can, time your visit with one of the garden’s Japanese festivals, especially the Lantern Festival which takes place on the third Saturday of October. Click here for more information.
Photo courtesy: Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens
5/Red Reef Park
Red Reef Park is a 10-minute drive from Deerfield Beach and is the perfect spot for a family day trip. The park includes a play structure, picnic tables, grills, restrooms, and beach access. The beach is a great location for safe snorkeling and swimming; a lifeguard is on duty, and boats are not permitted. Giant rock formations below the water are home to many unique types of friendly fish, which can be seen even without a snorkel mask. The park and beach are always crowded with families, so make sure to get there early for a prime spot! Cost: Free.
KidTripster Tip: Park in the lot across from the Red Reef Golf Course (making sure not to park in the spots reserved for the golfers). Parking in this lot is only $2/hour, while parking in the Red Reef Park lot is $16/day.
Maggie Vanoni is a college sophomore from Portland, Oregon. She’s currently attending the University of Oregon, where she’s majoring in journalism with hopes of becoming a professional magazine writer. Maggie loves spending time with her family and exploring, especially along the Oregon Coast.