The collection of dark-stained, cedar-sided buildings that houses the Gumbo Limbo Nature Center's classrooms, labs, and displays looks like ski lodges. The illusion is furthered by what appear to be several giant hot tubs spread out below the deck out back. But instead of decompressing skiers, the tanks are filled with turtles, fish, lobsters, and sharks, which staff members point out and explain to kids and families. Beyond the main complex are an outdoor amphitheater and interpretive nature trail with numbered signs marking trees and plants. The amphitheater is used for portions of some of the many classes and programs offered, but participants don't sit around for long. Hikes through the center's hardwood hammock and along the nearby beach back up the talking part of classes, and one program has nature buffs analyzing the puffer fish, baby barracuda, and blue crabs they find after dipping a seine into the lagoon. For the less adventuresome, however, just kicking back on the shaded deck of the center can be an in-depth lesson in native plants: Dozens of varieties, each with an information card hanging nearby, live in pots that line the deck railing.
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