“It’s funny, we don’t usually see locals around here.”
So said the one of the remarkably helpful and well-informed young men working at the Anne Kolb Nature Center. It’s true — most Miamians and folks living in Broward County have no idea that a 1500-acre oasis lies just north of Hollywood.
Truth be told, the only reason we discovered its existence was pure chance: we were looking for something on Google maps and noticed an enormous expanse of green stretching along West Lake. “What on Earth is THAT?” Ayaz asked.
Fast forward a few hours, and there we were, deep in the heart of a blissfully quiet mangrove wetland, spotting Great Blue Herons and egrets, while keeping our eyes peeled for pervasive, quick-footed (clawed?) tree crabs. After climbing to the top of a 60-foot observation tower that offered 360-degree views of sprawling wetlands and waterways, I wondered why more locals haven’t descended on Anne Kolb.
Surely, I’ll never know the answer, just as I’ll never be sure why so few people use their turn signals while driving in Miami-Dade. These are the mysteries that keep me up at night, you guys.
Start your visit to Anne Kolb at the Nature Center Complex, where you can pony up a $2.12 entry fee and explore a nature exhibit that highlights the plants and critters that call the wetlands home. (Note: Entrance to the park is free; you’ll only pay the $2.12 if you want to see the exhibit — don’t be cheap, just do it!) A 3,500-gallon saltwater aquarium houses fish.
Visitors can stroll along the 410-yard Lake Observation Trail, stopping at various lookout points to birdwatch and count crabs, or wander the Mud Flat Trail. A longer, 2.3-mile walk will take you even further afield, along waterways and past desolate stretches where birds a-plenty can be seen.
Take a deep dive into the wetlands on a guided boat tour, offered daily, or — for more active crews — by driving up the road to the West Lake Marina, where you can rent kayaks, SUPs, and canoes.
For once, don’t be like a local; visit Anne Kolb.