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Flamingo Gardens: 4 great reasons to visit this oasis in the suburbs

Flamingo Gardens in Davie combines my all-time favorite things, and they are the four main reasons to love this outpost in the suburbs:

  1. Florida history: Floyd and Jane Wray were pioneers and you can tour their home. Flamingo Gardens is located on one of the high points in Broward County, which is one reason it was the site the Wrays selected when they built their residence in 1927.
  2. Florida flora: There is a remarkable collection of trees and plants, including 15 Florida champions, meaning they are the biggest trees of their species, and thousands of orchids.
  3. Florida birds: There is a half-acre free-flight aviary where you can walk among 250 birds from 45 species. As you walk the grounds, you’ll see peacocks and ibises, who gather round you as you feed them. You can also hand-feed the famous flamingoes in their beautiful pond.
  4. Florida wildlife: Get a good look at a Florida panther, a Florida black bear, bobcat, eagle, alligators and river otters, among others.
A flamingo at Flamingo Gardens. (Photo: Bonnie Gross)
A flamingo at Flamingo Gardens. (Photo: Bonnie Gross)

I have visited and loved Flamingo Gardens for years. Originally, its big attraction was its historic botanic gardens. It was founded in 1927 by Floyd Wray, who first planted citrus trees and then added rare tropical fruit, flowering trees, and shrubs.

Today, it is home to the biggest tree in Florida (a non-native Cluster Fig measuring 54 feet 1 inch  in circumference with a crown span of 95 feet) as well as 3,000 tropical and subtropical species of plants.

See wildlife up close

Two decades ago, Flamingo Gardens began developing a new area of the park, the Everglades Wildlife Sanctuary. Over the years, it has added animals so that now it has more than 80 native species of birds and animals.

Flamingo Gardens now the largest collection of Florida native wildlife in the state including a magnificent flock of flamingos, which now have been categorized as native to Florida.

Flamingo Gardens, Davie: Flamingoes eat out of your hand. (Photo: David Blasco)
Flamingo Gardens, Davie: Flamingos eat out of your hand at the flamingo pond. The food for the flamingos is $1 a bag and you can buy it when you get your tickets at the entrance. (Photo: David Blasco)

At Flamingo Gardens, you can even feed the flamingos, whose big funny beaks are very gentle as they scrape your palm for handout food pellets. Be sure to buy a $1 bag of flamingo food when you buy your tickets. It wasn’t just the kids who thought this was the coolest thing ever.

There is a lot more to Flamingo gardens wildlife than flamingos!

Hungry ibises and peacocks are everywhere, and they’re a lot of fun to feed too. Again, buy a $1 bag of bird food (different than flamingo food) so you can have this interaction.

Don’t miss spending time in the half-acre free-flight aviary, where you can walk among 250 birds from 45 species. The birds, many born in the aviary, are so used to visitors that you can view them from quite close. I have always admired roseate spoonbills in the wild, but I had never seen one two-feet away before.

African Spurred Tortoise at Flamingo Gardens
You can get up close to the surprisingly active African Spurred Tortoises at Flamingo Gardens in Davie. (Photo: David Blasco)

You also can get exceptionally close to the African spurred tortoises, whose pen has low railings. Nearby is one of the fattest alligators I have ever seen.

Another favorite: As you head toward the aviary, pause in front of the fish crows cage. These smart crows have learned to say a few words. It delighted young and old when we said “hello” to a crow and it said “hello” back.

Wildlife encounter shows are scheduled daily for 11:30 a.m., 1:30 p.m., and 3:30 p.m.

Here’s a list of wildlife at Flamingo Gardens.

Flamingo Gardens: Peacocks roam the grounds. (Photo: David Blasco)
Flamingo Gardens: Peacocks roam the grounds uncaged, as they have for 70 years. (Photo: David Blasco)

Plant lovers will be in heaven

Flamingo Gardens started with citrus trees, which are still an important part of the gardens, but there are now hundreds of native and exotic trees surrounded by a lush gardens with ponds, a stream, and a waterfall.

The gardens have many flowering trees (15 Florida champions, meaning they are the biggest trees of their species.) There are also thousands of orchids plus areas devoted to attacting hummingbirds and butterflies, a tropical rainforest, an Everglades wetland, a fern garden and a remarkable collections of ginger and heliconias.

Flamingo Gardens has lush gardens of tropical and semi-tropical plants. (Photo: Bonnie Gross)
Flamingo Gardens has lush gardens of tropical and semi-tropical plants. (Photo: Bonnie Gross)

Florida history at Flamingo Gardens

One of the most beautiful landscapes in the park is a hammock of live oak trees, many of them 150 to 200 years old. This hammock is located on one of the high points in Broward County, which is one reason it was the home site selected by Floyd and Jane Wray when they built their residence in 1927. It is now the Wray Home Museum.

The Wrays and business partner Frank Stirling planted their first citrus trees in 1927 and eventually had  2,000 acres with over 60 varieties of citrus.

They started giving tours of their groves, even introducing peacocks in the 1940s.

One of the best ways to learn about the trees and history of Flamingo Gardens is the narrated tram tour, which is included in the admission price. The 25-minute tour leaves every 30 minutes, on the hour and half-hour, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. (The tour is offered houly weekdays during August and September.)

It’s easy to spend a few hours at this garden, which also includes daily live presentations featuring Florida’s native wildlife, such as birds of prey and reptiles and their relationship to the environment.

Map of Flamingo Gardens in Davie, Florida.
Map of Flamingo Gardens in Davie, Florida.

Planning your visit to Flamingo Gardens

How long does it take to walk through Flamingo Gardens? You can stroll the gardens in an hour, but you would be missing many great experiences. It would be easy to spend a second hour on your own pausing to watch and interact with the animals. Add another hour if you plan to attend the wildlife shows and take the tram ride.

Can you bring your own food in Flamingo Gardens? We packed a picnic and ate it outside the gated area at a covered area where picnic tables had been part of a snack bar that was not open in January 2022. The tables were all being used by other visitors with their own food. You can be re-admitted to the park if you leave to eat or go to the car. You can’t bring a picnic into the park. There is a snack bar inside the park near the flamingo pond.

Admission is $20 for adults when tickets are purchased online. ($22 at the door.) Children, who will love this place, are $15 online; $16 at the door. Children under 3 are free.

The Flamingo Gardens nursery and gift shop can be accessed without paying admission. (I bought a wonderful Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow bush here a few years ago.)

Flamingo Gardens
3750 S. Flamingo Road
Davie, Florida 33330
Flamingo Gardens hours: Open seven days a week 9:30 a.m. – 5 p.m.

For more information call 954.473.2955
or email [email protected]

From Florida Rambler: Find more beauty spots in Florida’s 20 spectacular botanic gardens

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Biking in Broward: Markham Park trail follows Everglades levee

Alligator Alley: How to turn boring road into Everglades fun

Visiting Hillsboro Lighthouse: Historic, romantic landmark

Visitor’s guide to Everglades National Park

Visiting Big Cypress National Preserve

Mile-by-mile guide to Overseas Highway through Florida Keys

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