Bonnet House and Gardens, Fort Lauderdale
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Bonnet House was the house of a wealthy and artistic couple (Frederic Clay Bartlett and his second wife, Helen Louise Birch, and then his third wife, Evelyn Fortune Lilly). Evelyn lived to be almost 110, until 1995, when she gave the house so the land could be forever protected. Frederic and his wives designed and decorated the house themselves, and it's an interesting place. It is special too because it is a piece of old Florida, when land was abundant and unspoiled.
The gardens are fairly plain except for the collection of orchids and a wonderful lagoon lined with palms and graced by a gigantic amazing banyan tree. The house has lovely architecture, more fun than formal. Bright yellow and pale blue are everywhere, as are shells inlaid in walls and monkey statues. There are six tiny monkeys on the grounds, escaped from a hotel nearby. Inside the house is very musty and fairly dark, but the bright decor, much of it from Africa, spruces things up. The best part is the courtyard which is overflowing with color. Baskets with luscious hanging orchids abound. There are mediterranean arches and yellow ironwork gates with plenty of curlicues.
You can't go inside the house and courtyard without the tour so I recommend you do the tour since the gardens aren't as impressive as the architecture and plants in the courtyard.
It's interesting to do the tour too, to hear about how they lived- what a pleasant, easy life!
After your tour, eat at a restaurant across the street from Fort Lauderdale Beach, enjoying the ocean views, or at a fast but yummy counter service place like Pei Wei Asian Diner or Chipotle Mexican Grill 5 minutes drive away (see address below).
Also in Fort Lauderdale, there is a nice park near Las Olas Blvd where you can sit on a canal under tall, old trees, called Colee Hammock Park.
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Bonnet House is located at 900 North Birch Road, Fort Lauderdale, Florida 33304. Exit Highway 95 at Sunrise Blvd and head toward the ocean for four miles. After the bridge, turn right on North Birch Rd and follow it to the end. There is plenty of free parking.
Bonnet House is open Tues-Sat 10-4 and Sun 12-4 with tours on the half hour. You can't go inside the house and courtyard without the tour so I recommend you do the tour since the gardens aren't as impressive as the architecture and plants in the courtyard.
Cost is $20 per adult, $18 for seniors, $16 for children, and free for kids under 6.
Pei Wei Asian Diner, 1730 N. Federal Hwy, Fort Lauderdale FL 33305.
Chipotle Mexican Grill, 1736 N. Federal Hwy, Fort Lauderdale FL 33305.
This is an interactive map, you can zoom and move it.
Overall Visitor Rating: Unrated.