Another fun part of this park is the Everglades Wildlife Sanctuary at Flamingo Gardens--it was one of the first of its kind in the country and provides a safe haven to permanently injured or non-releasable Florida native wildlife. The sanctuary includes the largest collection of Florida native wildlife in the State and includes more than 80 species-among them: alligators, bobcats, panthers, otters, eagles and, of course, flamingos. A great place for kids to see Florida wildlife up close. Coming soon are new bear and otter habitats. I can't wait to return.
My favorite part of the gardens, however, is Flamingo Pond, a terrific and very native looking area with a large flock of Caribbean flamingos (as well as other birds, including beautiful white ibis). I was able to fulfill my fantasy of getting great close-up shots of the flamingos (using a 70-300mm Nikkor zoom on a Nikon D90 body) at the pond. In fact, I spent several hours just photographing the flamingos--heaven for me. The flamingos are very active a lot of the time and the go through a very strange ritual where they will all be gathered on a small island and then--at the urging so some (for me, at least) unseen inner signal--they start to move around the pond in a kind of tribal flamingo dance! The kids will love it. Photographically speaking, flamingos preen and nap a lot, so there are always good photo opportunities.
If you're going to Florida this season, Flamingo Gardens is well worth a visit and you could easily spend a day here (there's a nice cafe on the grounds) and it's open every day but Christmas and Thanksgiving and while there is an admission charge (there is a senior discount and kids three and under are free), parking is free. You'll find directions and hours here.