What to See and Do in the Florida Everglades

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By: Shayne Benowitz

The Everglades is home to one of the most unique ecosystems in the country. It’s also one of the most exciting places in South Florida to explore. These lush subtropical wetlands occupy 1.5 million acres of sawgrass prairies, hardwood hammocks, saltwater marshes and a diverse population of wildlife that includes bald eagles, white-tailed deer, and of course the Florida alligator. It’s easy to discover everything the Everglades has to offer during a daytrip using our insider’s guide. Whether it’s hiking,biking or even gliding on an airboat, there are plenty of ways to experience the beauty of the Everglades firsthand.

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Shark Valley Visitor Center at Everglades National Park

Access Everglades National Park through the Shark Valley Visitor Center and discover the park along a 15-mile paved loop, which you can explore by foot, by bicycle, or by a tram tour guided by a park ranger or naturalist. The tram is a great way to see the whole of Shark Valley while learning all about the plants, animals and history of the Everglades. Bike rentals are available at the park or you can bring your own wheels. This self-guided tour will give you the freedom to stop and explore points of interest at your leisure. Don’t be surprised if you spot an alligator resting at the side of the trail, but don’t get too close either! At the midway point of the loop, you’ll find a 65-foot observation tower to scale where you can take in unobstructed views of the lush vegetation sprawling before you.

    Coopertown Everglades Airboat Tour

    One of the first things that comes to mind when you think of the Everglades is probably airboats. These flat-bottomed, fan-propelled aluminum vessels are designed specifically to zip across the shallow “River of Grass” at top speed for an exhilarating nature tour. You’ll learn about the ecosystem and the history of the Everglades while spotting alligators, turtles and wading birds in the wild. Founded in 1945, Coopertown Everglades Airboat Tour is the original. Before or after your airboat tour, be sure to catch the alligator show and reptile display where you’ll have a chance to hold a baby alligator. There’s a small restaurant found next to the gift shop that serves fried gator tail and frog legs for a true taste of the ‘glades!

      Miccosukee Indian Village

      The Miccosukee Indian Village is a historic reservation and home to a resort, casino and Indian Village Museum where you will learn about the history of the tribe and the Everglades. Embark on a guided airboat tour, witness wildlife, learn about the tribe’s doll-making, beadwork, patchwork and basket weaving crafts. Visitors can also witness a wild alligator demonstration. A tour will take you to an authentic hammock-style Miccosukee Indian camp, and teach you about the tribe’s culture, lifestyle and history. No tour is complete without a stop by the gift shop and a sampling of the tribe’s traditional cuisine.

        Big Cypress National Preserve

        Big Cypress National Preserve was established in 1974. It’s the size of Rhode Island, and essential to the Everglades’ health. Beginning in hardwood hammocks, it flows down to the pinelands, across the prairies, into the cypress swamps, mixes with the waters of the estuaries, and finally escapes to the Gulf of Mexico. Take a guided walk, attend a talk, explore the interpretive program or participate in a campfire program. It’s the one place you can see cypress, mangroves, alligators and possibly a Florida panther, in the same day.

          Tippy’s Outpost

          Located deep in the Everglades off Highway 41, Tippy’s Outpost is a unique marketplace surrounded by the River of Grass. Situated inside a red clapboard structure with a thatched roof, you’ll find a convenience store with souvenirs and all kinds of items ideal for a road trip pit stop: snacks, sodas and magazines. There’s also a covered patio on a canal with wooden furniture and picnic-style seating. Here, you can enjoy items from their grill menu, including burgers, gator bites and baked goods. The outpost was established by a Native American alligator wrestler over 20 years ago and provides a unique glimpse into the culture of the Everglades.

            More About The Everglades


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