A Day at Green Cay Nature Center and Wetlands

November 24, 2021

The perfect place to take the whole family during the cooler months.

There’s no better time to get outdoors than winter in The Palm Beaches, and Green Cay Nature Center and Wetlands is just the place to go. Whether it’s for exercise, exploring or bird watching, it has it all.
 
It’s that time of year again where we Floridians, especially those of us living in South Florida, are reminded just why we live here! The temperatures have started to drop, the humidity is waning, the sunshine is abundant and we’re all ready to spend more of our time outdoors.

Birds flying over the boardwalk and wetlands at Green Cay Nature Center

If you’re looking for a great place to take the whole family, wanting some exercise outdoors or seeking to explore the nature and wildlife of The Palm Beaches, Green Cay Nature Center and Wetlands is a great (and free) option. Located in Boynton Beach, it’s open from 7 a.m. to sunset. If you’re going on a weekend, it’s recommended to arrive early to avoid the crowds, as it begins to fill up quickly.

Green Cay Nature Center is the county’s newest nature center, and features an indoor space where you can learn about the wildlife and unique ecosystems that you’ll see while exploring the 1.5-mile boardwalk. The nature center overlooks 100 acres of wetlands and provides many educational opportunities and programs about the diverse and unique habitat. Located inside, there’s also an alligator hole, frog terrarium and turtle pond.

Once you’ve explored the nature center, head out to the boardwalk where you might see wildlife right away, whether swimming below you or flying above you. Don’t forget to bring your binoculars because you’ll spot a variety of birds such as herons, egrets, hawks, waterfowl, doves, owls, hummingbirds and more. Check out the full list of birds you might see during your visit.

A white bird in a marsh
The Green Cay Nature Center and Wetlands is also a great place for kids to come and explore, as the boardwalk is mostly flat and there are plenty of benches to rest along the way. It’s also handicap accessible. Besides the amazing wildlife you’ll witness while walking along the boardwalk, you’ll also see emergent marshes, a cypress swamp, hammock islands and more. There are also scannable QR codes located along the boardwalk to learn more about the ecosystem and wildlife surrounding you.

While you’re in the area, it’s well worth the four-minute drive to Wakodahatchee Wetlands. It’s open from 6 a.m. until 6 p.m. and also boasts a beautiful boardwalk with gazebos and benches. It was built on 50 acres of former wastewater utility property and is free to the public. There have been more than 178 bird species identified at Wakodahatchee Wetlands, along with rabbits, turtles, frogs, raccoons, fish and more.

During the fall months, the pond apple trees are in full foliage and during the winter months the migrating birds, such as herons and wood storks, return to make their nests, lay eggs and welcome their hatchlings before spring — so it’s a great time to visit. Lastly, it’s important to note that drones, pets, food, alcohol, skateboards and bikes aren’t allowed on the boardwalks, and you’re not allowed to feed any of the wildlife while visiting.

Whether you’re looking for a great place for a daily morning walk or for the whole family to enjoy and take out-of-town guests, Green Cay Nature Center is a great option for everyone. Now let’s grab our binoculars and get bird-watching!

Trees in a wetland marsh
All photo credits: Chelsea Fetter
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Chelsea Fetter
Chelsea Fetter
Chelsea Fetter moved to South Florida in 2012 to attend Nova Southeastern University pursuing a graduate degree in speech-language pathology, and says she is never moving anywhere else! She now calls Jupiter home and enjoys exploring the outdoors and all that The Palm Beaches have to offer. She founded her travel Instagram page in 2017 when she wanted to begin sharing all the travel tricks and tips she and her husband had learned after traveling to all 50 states, 30 countries, and 43 national parks. They now have an 18-month-old daughter, Luella, who has already been to 16 states and counting.