Florida Getaways of the Day
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West Palm Beach: Grassy Waters for a slice of nature( David Blasco )
The City of West Palm Beach gets its drinking water from this 20-square-mile preserve -- and the birds and animals appreciate it. You will, too, if you like a hike where you can enjoy alligators, wading birds and charming chickee huts with rocking chairs.
The city operates a nature center and three-quarters-mile boardwalk through a cypress swamp. It's a great outing for families who want to introduce their kids to nature. Alligators are often sighted. (We saw one right below the boardwalk at the nature center, as though he were part of the display.) Along the way, chickee huts are furnished with rocking chars, encouraging you to just sit and soak up nature around you. We saw kids who were motivated to keep hiking to reach the next hut, where mom had promised a stop with a snack .
The preserve is large, and there are longer hikes available along the perimeter. Ask at the nature center for a map and directions. On a sunny February afternoon, a few miles of hiking rewarded us with a flock of roseate spoonbills -- Barbie pink birds the uninitiated might mistake for flamingos -- mixed in among hundreds of egrets, Ibises and heron. There were plenty of gators, too.
For more information, visit the city's site or a site operated by a support group who are friends of the preserve.
-- Bonnie Gross