The Everglades are like walking into another world, a wild, untamed eco-system where the roots of giant dense mangrove trees grow above the reflective water, where the sun shines bright and the sawgrass grows high. It’s like a movie, part ominous and mysterious, part magical and mystical. In short, the Everglades are beautiful, and the attractions, like airboats and camping, are the best way to absorb the full experience.
Ecotourism and Everglades History
Often called the “River of Grass” the nearly 1.5 million acres that make up the Everglades National Park are a collection of sawgrass marshes and swamp ecosystems including cypress swamps, mangrove forests, tropical hardwood hammocks and marine territory. The Everglades is the third largest National Park and the largest subtropical wilderness in the Continental U.S. and has many points of interest. For more than 15,000 years humans have inhabited the Everglades. For a long time the area was home to the Calusa tribe and, to this day, preserves and celebrates the rich history of the Native Americans in the area.
Recommended Airboat Tours
Coopertown Airboat Rides and Restaurant
Visit the Everglades and dive into an authentic experience at Coopertown Airboat Rides and Restaurant where you can hop aboard an airboat and cruise through the lush wilderness and then head into the restaurant for down-home style frog legs, gator tail, catfish and more. Coopertown may only have a population of eight people, but they’ve seen a constant flow of tourists for the past 45 years. They’ve long been the most recommended company for touring the Everglades by the Miami Herald and they tout themselves as the “original air boat tour.”
Coopertown, like much of the surrounding area, was originally home to a Seminole Indian Village lead by Chief Jimmy Osceola. Since 1945 the land has developed into a gateway into the Everglades and a must-stop on the way.
On an airboat tour through the sawgrass you’ll get to see the eco-paradise of the Everglades by traveling through a Hardwood Hammock, into the National Park. Your guide will point out the natural habitats of animals like alligator holes, herons, grackles, turtles and raccoons – just to name a few – and we’re certain you’ll spot more. Have a question about a mysterious colorful bird? Your tour guide will tell you it’s a Purple Gallanule, and will know the area like their own backyard, because most likely, it is.
Everglades Alligator Farm
Explore the Everglades at “South Florida’s oldest alligator farm.” Take a thrilling airboat tour and enjoy live shows, which run every hour featuring alligators and snakes. Everglades Alligator Farm is located near the main entrance of Everglades National Park, and contains more than 2,000 alligators. It’s also home of the famous 14 ft. "Grandpa" alligator. A trip to the Everglades Alligator Farm includes an exciting airboat tour of the surrounding river of grass, a walking trail around the farm to see alligators, crocodiles, caimans and wildlife, a display of local and exotic snakes and informational wildlife shows every hour. Daily schedule includes snake shows, alligator shows, alligator feedings and airboat rides.
Everglades Safari Park
Everglades Safari Park’s 30 to 40 minute airboat ride departs every 30 minutes, so there’s no need to make a reservation. That means if you wake up one morning in Miami, and decide you want to escape into a subtropical wilderness and take a ride on a flat bottom boat with a giant propeller and automotive engine – you can! Even better, make it in time for the sunset tour and get a two-for-one deal, the magical sunset and the magical Everglades marshes in one tour.
Make a day of it and stay for the full educational experience in the Everglades Safari Wildlife Nature Show where you’ll get a quick but thorough education on conservation and preservation of this delicate and vital ecosystem. Whether you’re traveling with kids or on an all-adult trip, this is an education worth getting at any age. At Gator Island you’ll see crocodilian species hanging in the sun, swimming or laying around – probably pretty similar to your vacation.
Miccosukee Indian Village & Airboat Rides
Learn about Miami's American Indian heritage in the thick of the Everglades at the Miccosukee Indian Village. From alligator demonstrations with brave tribesmen to a museum offering a glimpse into the tribe's history and way of life, you'll get more than you bargained for on your outing to the Everglades. Watch Miccosukee Indians as they weave baskets and create woodwork, beadwork and patchwork crafts in the lush village environs. You'll see tribal artifacts, clothing, paintings, cooking utensils, photography and watch a fascinating film. Of course, a trip to the Everglades isn't complete without an adventure aboard and airboat. Glide across the river of grass with the Miccosukees and keep your eye's peeled for alligators in their native habitat, subtropical birds and other wildlife.
Bike Shark Valley
Rent a bike and travel the flat 15-mile loop that makes up Shark Valley. On a bicycle you’ll get up close and personal to the animal wildlife of the area, but keep in mind you can’t touch them. This isn’t a petting zoo, it’s an authentic natural habitat.
A full 15 miles on a bike may sound like a little too much exertion for you; you’re on vacation after all right? Don’t skip Shark Valley, you can take the Tram Tour at your leisure. This two hour open-air tour is led by trained naturalists who are proud to point out some of the more ”hidden” aspects of the wetlands.
Spend the Night, Camp In The Everglades
The Everglades is made up of twisting and turning waterways that can take days if not years to explore. So why not stay a few nights, breathe in some fresh air and camp surrounded by beauty and history – not to mention trees and animals, of course. Kayak the day away and then pitch a tent on a beach, crawl onto a chickee, an open air structure, or rent an RV and stay in a larger campground. There are plenty of options for camping in the Everglades, it a popular way to get the full experience and have time for all the attractions that this spectacular National Park offers.
What To Know
There are many companies that offer a variety of airboat tours including stops on private islands, specialized tours of the backwater, canoeing and so much more. Also look for special deals if you’re visiting in a large group or are interested in booking a private tour with a boat all to yourself. The weather in the area is ideal for outdoor exploring from November to December through about April. There are some dips in temperatures so be sure to check the weather forecast in advance, but mostly it’s the perfect weather for outdoor exploring. The summers can be hot and humid, but not intolerable, just pack lots of water and sunscreen and expect a warm and sunny day. The summer is also the rainy season and there’s an almost daily shower that can last from a few minutes to an hour or two.
No matter what the weather, be sure to pack mosquito spray or your preferred repellent.
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