Cypress Gardens has many things for a great family outing. The varieties of turtles and alligators in the animal walk are fun to see. The Aquarium shows many species. The Butterfly Garden has many wonderful butterflies, plants, and other wildlife for you to see. Of course, the Swamp Garden is the most impressive. You can take out a flat bottomed boat or wander the paths to view the beauty and wildlife.
The crocodiles and alligators will thrill the kids. There are several varieties and you can see the differences of each one. Many of them are rare and endangered. Meet 'Pedro' the tortoise. He is very friendly and likes to eat the plants outside his area. Watch his slow graceful movements. See the other turtles in this area as well. See the differences in size and shape of these creatures.
The fresh water Aquarium has many interesting fish and creatures for you to see. The Aquarium displays animals from the swamp that visitors might not be able to see in the wild. There is also a reptile area in this building. See crocodiles, giant constrictors, and native reptiles.
The Swamp Gardens began after Benjamin Kittredge purchased the land in the early 1900's. When he noticed the beauty of a red maple reflected in the black water he got the inspiration for the gardens. In 1927, he began planting thousands of azaleas, camellias, tea olives, dogwoods, magnolias, and numerous bulbs. A crew of approximately 200 men with wheelbarrows constructed paths across the swamp to join the opposite dikes. Children scoured the woods in search of native atamasco lily bulbs for which Mr. Kittredge paid a penny each. As the years passed, exotic trees and shrubs, as well as native species were planted. Mrs. Kittredge imported thousands of winter blooming daphne, her favorite flowering shrub, and planted the Camellia Garden with timely varieties such as "Bessie MacArthur" and "Rising Sun".
Benjamin Kittredge first opened his gates to the public in 1932. Today, the swamp is home to countless species. There are Bald Eagles, wood ducks, hawks, osprey, herons, and egrets. Frogs and turtles can be seen as well. Fox, deer, raccoon, and bobcat tracks remind us of the lively nocturnal life here. But of course the most popular animal to see here is the alligator. On our visit we saw a variety of them in many sizes, from a small baby about a foot long, all the way to one about 12 feet long with a VERY large mouth! You can view all these from the paths and nature trails, or you can go out in a flat bottomed boat and paddle through the swamp.
The Cypress Gardens nature trail was really cool. My dad got stupid and got too close to a 12 foot alligator. There were tons of baby alligators, too. My dad was going to take a picture of a 7 foot alligator when he saw the one almost twice as big. It was huge. It could eat you without even thinking about it. Luckily it wasn't hungry and it was well fed.
The Cypress Gardens Butterfly Garden is a fun place to enjoy. There are butterflies flitting around everywhere. They fly all around you. There are many creatures besides the butterflies to 'find'. Check out the boards with the pictures of these birds and other animals to locate. Can you find them all? There are fish and turtles, those are easy to find. Then there is the wood duck and dove. Many of the other birds are small and hard to find. There are benches so you can sit down and enjoy the peaceful setting.
The Cypress Gardens Aquarium was filled with tons of stuff. There was this weird eel-like thing with feet! It had toes too! There was a reptile exhibit in there too. At first you walk in and see a python that looks really big. You get to the back and see the biggest anaconda in your life, it makes the python not look so big. There is a big frog that looks like it got ran over by a truck. It is weird!
Check out what there is to see in each area.
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