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Bonnet House and Gardens, Fort Lauderdale

Miami, FL, USA

Description

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 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.

Photo Gallery


Fountain and sculpture.

One of many gorgeous orchids.

Yellow window and desert plants outside.

Purple orchid against the sky.

Door with curlicues.

Lush foliage in the inner courtyard.

Bold yellow bench and pale blue wall.

Plants in the garden.

Ironwork lanterns and stenciled decorations.

Yellow curlicue door looking out on greenery, plus blue wall.

Gorgeous tropical plant.

Row of palms by a lilypond.

Painting on an outside wall.

Incredible Strangler Fig tree.

Front door that leads into the lush courtyard.

Palm-shaded path leading to fountain.

The tropical garden.

There are so many lovely views in the garden.

Desert garden near the front entrance.

Strangler Fig as seen through yellow window.

I adore this Strangler Fig!
   

Directions

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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-Sun 9-4 with tours on each half hour, for example 9:30, 10:30, 11:30 etc. Closed Mondays, Jan 1, Thanksgiving (fourth Thurs in Nov), and Dec 25. 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, $16 for children aged 6-12, and free for kids under 6. $10 for gardens only (not recommended).
Chipotle Mexican Grill, 1736 N. Federal Hwy, Fort Lauderdale FL 33305.
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