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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Flamingo Adventures at Everglades National Park

Flamingo Adventures, located at the Flamingo Area Visitors Center within Everglades National Park, offers the perfect family-friendly adventure. Flamingo provides beautiful campgrounds, plenty of fun things to do and incredible views of the largest subtropical wilderness in the U.S. There's lots of exotic wildlife, a marina with boat slips and launch ramps, bike, canoe and kayak rentals and all the fishing and hiking you could dream of.

If you would prefer to let somebody else do the driving, there are even back country boat tours to take you to all the special places that the whole family will enjoy.

Flamingo Adventures is also "the" perfect spot for the glampers in the family that want an unforgettable experience in the Everglades, but would rather do it with some of the amenities of home. This is the only place in the Everglades where you can stay in a houseboat or brand new comfy eco-tent and have an adventure of a lifetime. They are even opening a restaurant soon.


    Everglades Safari Park

    Everglades Safari Park is a popular Everglades attraction that offers up all kinds of family-friendly fun from thrilling airboat rides and wildlife shows to private eco-adventures on a private airboat.

    Enjoy their walking trail filled with exhibits then stop for a quick bite in the Safari Restaurant where you can have your lunch in an authentic Chickee with an incredible view of the Everglades. They even cater events up to 500 people if you want a one-of-a-kind experience for your next party.

    Everglades Safari Park tour guides will take you through the wonders of this unique ecosystem and the native and exotic wildlife that inhabit it. These fun-for-the-whole-family tours include their world famous airboat ride an alligator wildlife show, and entrance to the walking trail. There is even a gift shop so you can take a unique Everglades prize home with you.

      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!

          Everglades Alligator Farm

          Everglades Alligator Farm is the perfect spot for a day trip with the family. Open daily from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., this Old Florida-style attraction is small and easy to navigate, perfect if you’ve got small children at your heel. Even though the farm is landscaped with shade trees, orchids, ponds and waterfalls, it is a working alligator farm with more than 2,000 gators.

          During your visit, you can watch an alligator show,a snake show, and witness an alligator feeding - all included with the general admission, which is $21 for adults, $16 for children 4-11, children under 4 are free. Other packages include animal encounters, airboat tours and VIP experiences.

            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, this vast swamp 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 all 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.

                  Everglades Holiday Park

                  Everglades Holiday Park is another family-friendly way to spend some time in the Everglades. Not only can you enjoy an exciting group airboat ride that will bring you very up close and personal to some of the Everglades most popular residents, but afterward you can watch the Gator Boys Alligator Rescue in their alligator pit.

                  With miles of wetlands before you, you'll venture deep into the Everglades for an hourlong adventure, zipping across the "River of Grass" at top speeds while an expert tour guide tells you fun-facts about this special national park. You'll even have the chance to hold a baby gator or even one of the rescued invasive boa constrictors during your visit.

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