3501 S.W. 130th Ave., Davie, FL 33330
Phone: 954-357-8797• Fax: 954-357-8796• Email: LongKey@Broward.org
BEST NATURE CENTER 2014
Based on Customer Satisfaction Survey Results
Wi-Fi is available in the Oak Hammock Hall and the classroom.
At 164.8 acres, this site is one of the largest natural areas managed by Broward County Parks and Recreation. As recently as a century ago this elevated oak hammock was part of a series of islands surrounded by Everglades marshes. Long Key encompasses some of the most significant archaeological, historical, and ecological resources in the county, as the area was inhabited by the ancient Tequestas and the more modern Seminoles.
Long Key's magnificent live oak hammock has served as an important habitat for wildlife and is one of the largest remaining stands of upland hardwood forest in Broward County. Typical trees found in the hardwood forest include live oak, red bay, paradise tree, strangler fig, and the occasional cabbage palm and gumbo limbo. Among the diverse plants you can see are many species of epiphytic bromeliads and ferns that abundantly line the limbs of the oaks.
Additional features include a 14-acre orange grove, a remnant of a once-active citrus industry; restored wetland marshes, which have become a haven for a variety of migratory and resident birds; several man-made ponds and canals; and an active bird roost/rookery. The site is also a refuge for butterflies and a variety of mammals, including foxes and bobcats.
Oak Hammock Hall: This 2,760-square-foot rental facility is available for meetings, weddings, receptions, and other special events. Capacity 240-280, depending on setup. Features a stage with a video screen, as well as state-of-the-art audiovisual equipment, including four 52-inch flat-screen video monitors and CD and DVD players. A warming kitchen is also available, and the hall is equipped with Wi-Fi. Detailed Oak Hammock information.
Visitor Center: General information and reservations are available in the lobby, which includes a scale model of the site, as well as a hand-carved bench made from an African mahogany tree planted near the Baez House by pioneer families and uprooted by Hurricane Wilma in 2005.
Exhibit Hall: A 2,390-square-foot facility highlighting the history of the Tequesta and Seminole Native Americans on Long Key. Natural history exhibits include an actual archaeological dig pit; interactive, hands-on exhibits on vegetation, birds, and birdcalls, and more; and live animals, including a baby alligator, snakes, frogs, lizards, and scorpions. The exhibit hall, which is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily, also features a 10-foot-by-27-foot black-and-white photo mural, commissioned for the site, by nature photographer Clyde Butcher, who's widely known as "the Ansel Adams of the Everglades."
Everglades Theater: This 599-square-foot theater shows an approximately 12-minute video, Long Key: An Island in the Everglades. Capacity 50.
Discovery Room: A 902-square-foot classroom featuring hands-on investigations of Everglades habitats and animal residents. Programs for school and camp groups available by reservation. Capacity 40-70.
Nature Trail: An approximately half-mile trail that winds through the oak hammock. Naturalist-led walks are available, as well as walks around the restored wetlands and to the Baez House.
Equestrian Trails: Nearly one and a half miles of trails along the restored wetlands and through the oak hammock, connecting to the Davie Multipurpose Trail.
Pedestrian Bridge: Crosses a restored wetland, connecting the nature center to the nature trail.
Public Art and Design: A 120-foot-by-88-foot project by Lorna Jordan called Island Garden. One of the artist's concerns is the idea of the garden as a framework for enhancing habitat, and in that context this work heightens the visitor's experience of the nature center's topography. Pathway mosaics make reference to the sedimentary layers that have created the aquifer's layers of limestone, sand, and sandstone; pools and planters reveal the interaction between water and plants; and benches and a trellis system provide a contemplative place to experience shade and the coolness of water. Jordan, who has a B.A. from the University of Virginia at Charlottesville, has led teams for several award-winning projects of similar budget and scope that blur the boundaries among sculpture, ecology, architecture, and theater. See a video that includes this project.
Pets: No pets are allowed within the boundaries of the nature center.