Oxbo Eco-Center

Found throughout Florida, the Gulf Fritillary a butterfly that makes its home in the Butterfly and Contemplation Gardens at the Oxbo Eco-Center located at 5400 NE St. James Drive in Port St. Lucie. Named Oxbo because of the U-shaped bend in the St. Lucie River.

Interpretive plaques along the boardwalk describe the many plants and flowers with so many uses. Hike the numerous trails situated on the 225-acre preserve. Climb to the top of the observation towers and observe some of the numerous animals in the preserve. Canoe or kayak and get a close-up look of the many species of animals.

Stroll along the trail in the Butterfly Garden taking pleasure in the natural beauty. Sit on a bench or bring a picnic lunch and listen to the songbirds or sit in The Contemplation Garden and see if you can spot the butterflies.Over 800 species of fish in Blackwater and freshwater that make up the St. Lucie River. An interpretive exhibit describes in detail the flow of the river and the thousands of plants and animals that inhabit the river.

Different species of turtles and snakes reside in aquariums in the Discovery Room. A Rose Hair Tarantula found in Chile on display. Watch a live feeding of the reptiles every Saturday afternoon while visiting the Discovery Room.

Rent the amphitheater for special events. Free admission to the center, donations accepted. I recommend the environmental learning center and preserve a lot to see and do.



Ormond Beach Environmental Discovery Center






PICT0702-1Ormond Beach Environmental Discovery Center in Central Park located at 601 Division Street in Ormond Beach. Walk along the winding path stopping to read the plaques next to the plants that line the walkway. Native Florida plants include the Starry Rosinweed to the Cabbage Palm Florida’s state tree. Stop in front of the Butterfly Garden as early as 10:00 a.m. to spot one of the species of butterflies that fly around the garden.


Swallow-Tailed Kite

Swallow-Tailed Kite








Launch or dock a kayak or canoe at the floating dock; have a picnic lunch on the porch or on the grounds. Pick up a pair of binoculars on the porch and see if you can spot an Osprey or a Swallow-Tailed Kite.






A volunteer who is a beekeeper explained the lifecycle of the honeybee colony located inside the center.  The Dollar Sunfish found in North Carolina, Florida and Texas. The Red-Rat Snake mostly found in the southeast portion of the United States. The Florida Red-Bellied Cooter a turtle found in freshwater wetlands and southeast Georgia all contained in the aquariums located inside the center.

PICT0692-1A skeleton of a cougar, alligator and coyote exhibited. Mammals, birds, plants can be studied on interactive touchscreens. Free admission to the environmental center, hours and days of operation on the website.


Environmental Learning Center

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Environmental Learning Center located at 255 Live Oak Drive in Vero Beach. Pick up a map and take a self-guided audio tour. Walk the George’s trail a one and a half mile boardwalk made of recycled materials. Bring a pair of binoculars, go inside the Waterside Pavilion and see if you can spot an Osprey, a Great Blue Heron or a Brown Pelican. Take a canoe tour or relax on a bench while looking out at the Indian River Lagoon.

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Gopher Tortoises, butterflies, passionflowers and cactus among the reptiles, insects and flowers found on the native plant trail. Stand on a bridge while looking out on a pond. Walk in the sand underneath the boardwalk. A lower jawbone from a humpback whale on display.

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A brackish aquarium and a touch tank inside the Discovery Station. With the Earth in Mind, Life in Seagrass Meadows and Who Lives in the White, Red and Black Mangroves some of the exhibits found inside the station.

Stop in the gift shop for candles and lamps. Fill the wasp trap with honey. A plant nanny takes the guesswork out of when to water your plants.

central park & environmental center 100-1Stop for Gopher Tortoises at the crossing. Entrance fees and hours of operation on the website.

Polk’s Nature Discovery Center






Drive down the one-mile road to the Polk’s Nature Discovery Center stopping for wildlife along the way. The center located at 4399 Winter Lake Road in Lakeland inside the Circle B Bar Reserve. A Saw Palmetto, Beggarticks, Spanish Needle and Romerillo grow alongside the boardwalk to the center. Interpretive exhibits detail the establishment of the Reserve that was once a 1,267-acre cattle ranch.






Artifacts in a glass case and video presentations shown in the Orientation Room in the Education Center. A Live Oak Hammock, Wetlands, Flatwoods and Sandhills are some of the habitats on display. The Exploration Lab show birds on the move, the Life Cycle of a Frog and Butterfly. An Interactive Exhibit show how Alien Invaders destroy the environment. Browse through one of the magazines or books in the Expedition Room.






Pick up a trail map and explore the many trails in the reserve. Have a picnic or barbecue in one of the pavilions. Call the Nature Center and sign-up for a tram tour that takes people on a tour of the property. Entrance to the discovery center is free; hours of operation are on the website.

Lyonia Environmental Center

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lyon-1 963Interactive exhibits throughout the Lyonia Environmental Center in Deltona show how fragile the ecosystem is. Many plants and animals live in the Florida Scrub a desert habitat. The Gopher Tortoise, Florida Scrub Lizard, The Sand Skink and Indigo Snake threatened species because of habitat loss.

PICT1715Hike on a trail in the Florida Scrub a desert like habitat in the 357-acre Lyonia Preserve next to the environmental center. Take along a pair of binoculars and watch the Florida Scrub-Jay the only bird of its kind in the world.

Rent space in the outdoor amphitheater for events. Free admission to the environmental center; hours of operation on the website.