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Take a break from Miami and take a walk in these wetlands

We love Miami. But sometimes getting out of the city is a desirable experience.

Here’s what to do: Head north and you will find not one but two parks where tourists and locals watch birds, take photos of the sunrise and sunset and generally engage in activities that put you back in touch with nature, however briefly.

Welcome to the Palm Beach wetlands.

Green Cay and Wakodahatchee wetlands are right around the corner from each other, and a trip to both is a good addition to a visit to the Morikami Museum. You can see all three in a day and still be home in time for dinner.

Both wetlands have boardwalks from which you can admire the flora and fauna and ooh and ahh over the wildlife and hope you see one of the big gators. (Yes. This is Florida. We want to see gators, just not in our pools.)

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The boardwalk at Green Cay wetlands.

African safari goers look for the big five: lion, leopard, elephant, rhino and Cape buffalo. At Wako and Green Cay, there’s the big three: Gators, bobcats, otters. Gators are fairly common; the other two, well, bring patience and some binoculars. You’re going to go through a lot of herons before you manage to see either of these.

The busiest times are sunrise and sunset, naturally; Green Cay and Wakodahatchee draw armies of photographers, many of whom are kind enough to point out items of interest if you’re quiet and polite. If you see a big group of people squinting at something, always join them. Maybe it’s just a couple of thuggish moor hens fighting. But maybe it’s something special.

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Herons are everywhere at the wetlands. Also expect wood storks and ducks and, if you’re lucky, a roseate spoonbill or two.

Things to remember when you visit

  • Green Cay has ample parking; Wakodahatchee does not, so you may have to wait for a space.
  • Walk slowly. Look up, look down, look around. Sometimes you have to be still to see something worthwhile.
  • Bring binoculars. The birds and the critters don’t necessarily walk right up to you on the boardwalk.
  • Don’t bring your pets (for good reason - gators are fond of chihuahua)
  • Picnicking on the grassy berms is prohibited. This is a very important rule and you should follow it. If we have to tell you why it’s bad to lounge around on the ground with gators in the vicinity, you may want to just stay in Kendall.
  • Leave your drones at home. We’re trying to chill here.

Green Cay Wetlands

12800 Hagen Ranch Rd. Boynton Beach

Hours: Nature trail open daily sunrise-sunset; nature center open 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Wednesday-Saturday

Wakodahatchee Wetlands

13026 Jog Road, Delray Beach

Hours: 6:30 a.m.-7:30 p.m. daily

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