Anne Kolb Nature Center
During her term and afterwards, she fought for a county land use plan, conservation of open space, and creating the Urban Wilderness Park system in Broward. She is why this mangrove forest that was slated for development was protected. A complex with boardwalks, trails, and a tall accessible observation tower, it’s an outpost in one of the largest urban mangrove forests remaining in Florida. The nature center is open 9 AM to 5 PM. Pets are not allowed. Skating and bicycles are not permitted on the boardwalks surrounding the nature center. Bring mosquito repellent and sun protection. You’ll need both for the trails, which are mostly in the open between the mangroves. Inside the main building, the centerpiece of the Nature Center is a 3,500 gallon saltwater aquarium.
Extensive exhibits highlight the importance of the mangrove forest and its many inhabitants, from the birds that roost in red mangroves to the crustaceans in the mud below. A portion of the exhibit floor is dedicated to showing off nature-themed work from local artists. With both volunteer and staff assistance, the Nature Center hosts field trips for local school groups. Visitors can also sign up to take a narrated tour on a pontoon boat out into West Lake. The Nature Center complex also includes access to several trails, a five-level observation tower, a fishing pier, and amphitheater where outdoor events are held. Even if you don’t walk the trails, take the time to go up in the tower for the incredible views. It has both a staircase and an elevator to lift you 68 feet above sea level. While paddlers must put in at the West Lake Park entrance about a half mile west on the north side of Sheridan Blvd, you can pick up a guide to the paddling trails here at the nature center. Only kayaks, canoes, and electric boats are allowed in the wilderness area. Interpretive booklets are available for the Lake Observation Trail and the Mudflat Trail are also available for a small fee from the nature center desk.