Spread out beneath the two-story observation tower at Anne Kolb Nature Center is a microcosm of South Florida's pristine natural habitats: more than 1400 acres of preserved coastal wetlands, West Lake, the Intracoastal Waterway, and, off in the distance, the Atlantic Ocean. And in the park below, all but the ocean are accessible by trail or canoe. The best place to start, though, is in the interpretive center itself, where a ten-minute film introduces the center and surrounding park. Also inside are touch-tanks full of marine life and informational displays. A stuffed great blue heron and white ibis, for example, seem to give their distinctive calls when the buttons near them are pushed. A full schedule of classes, environmental boat tours, canoe excursions, and hikes along the mud trails through the mangroves are conducted by naturalists. Or visitors can rent a canoe and explore at their own pace.

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