Family-Friendly Fall Destinations in the Palm Beaches

family
Photo: Michelle Olson-Rogers

When you have children, getting out of the house is essential for your mental health…the kids’ too if we’re being honest! Normally during this time of year when temperatures cool down, there are pumpkin patches to visit and fall and Halloween events galore to enjoy. But, since most autumn events have been cancelled, we’re having to go back to some of our old haunts instead. 

For this very reason, my family and I booked a staycation earlier this month to the Palm Beach area. Not only did we need a change of scenery, but we also wanted to take advantage of some current MOSAIC offerings. What is MOSAIC? Typically, MOSAIC is a month-long celebration of shows, art, ideas and culture in our region, but this year…it’s looking a little different. MOSAIC has been extended all autumn long so families have the opportunity to rediscover the arts locally at beloved attractions throughout the Palm Beaches. Luckily there are plenty of suitable, safe and family-friendly options!

South Florida Science Center

There’s never been a better time to visit the South Florida Science Center & Aquarium! Not only do they have an amazing 2,500 square foot interactive exhibit, Journey Through the Human Brain, they’re about to welcome a new addition that explores the rest of us called Real Bodies. 

Appropriate for all ages, Real Bodies goes beyond skin deep to reveal the mysteries of human anatomy, exploring the body through physiology, culture and emotion. Visitors will tour real, preserved human bodies, digging deeper into what it means to be alive. The exhibition will also feature a new COVID-19 component, so visitors can learn more about the pandemic’s impact on the human body. The exhibit will be open to the general public starting September 28, 2020 through April 11, 2021.

As for outdoor offerings at the South Florida Science Center, the quarter-mile Fisher Family Science Trail has something for everyone. The Science Trail connects 15 exhibits including a Physics Forest, FPL SolarScape, Cox Amphitheater, a shark tooth dig pit, gem-panning station, splash pad (which was closed when we visited), dinosaur walk, and more! This renovated 5-acre outdoor space encourages exploration, play, and learning, while offering exciting experiences for all ages.

Loggerhead Marinelife Center

With Gumbo Limbo temporarily closed, I highly recommend making the trek up to Loggerhead Marinelife Center in Juno Beach, especially if your kids are having sea turtle withdrawals. Loggerhead focuses on sea turtle research, rehabilitation and education with some solid ocean conservation thrown in for good measure.

Upgrade your experience by booking a private tour to learn about the center and its inhabitants. Tour highlights include the on-site hospital, research laboratory, educational exhibits and aquariums. You’ll love seeing those baby turtles! (Cost is $12/person, $60 minimum. If interested, please contact reservations@marinelife.org to book in advance.)

We even adopted a sea turtle friend to support the 2021 expansion of Loggerhead Marinelife Center. The construction is expected to double the center’s footprint and increase their capacity to help educate more guests, conduct more research and rehabilitate more of these remarkable animals. I’m looking forward to visiting again next year to see all of the improvements!

Mounts Botanical Garden

Mounts Botanical Garden has 25 unique garden areas for your family to explore. Spanning 14 acres, this “living plant museum” in the heart of West Palm Beach features a children’s maze, an edible garden and the coolest living sculpture I’ve ever seen. In fact, I didn’t even know what a living sculpture was prior to our visit!

We thoroughly enjoyed running around and playing hide and seek in “Cutting Corners: A Stickwork Exhibit.” This house/maze/sculpture was designed by internationally acclaimed artist, Patrick Dougherty, and created in January 2019 by a team of volunteers using 30,000 pounds of willow cuttings. It was unreal. 

The Butterfly Garden is also extremely active this time of year. Strolling through it was rather magical. My daughter also enjoyed walking around Windows on the Floating World, even managing to spot a few turtles along the way! 

If you’re concerned about safety, we wore face coverings any time we were indoors or unable to social distance outside (with the exception of children 2 and under). Each destination below worked extremely hard to feature increased sanitization measures and extensive signage as well as floor decals to help guide visitors. Learn more about the Palm Beaches Pledge, showing their commitment to visitors’ health and safety here


Michelle Olson-Rogers is a mom of one and the founder of Modern Boca Mom, a lifestyle website for the stylish & modern South Florida Mommy. She can also be found on Instagram at @modernbocamom.