Best Florida Everglades Tours

airboat

Airboat

everglades biking

Alligator crossing an Everglades bike path

alligator show

Alligator demonstration by a Miccosukee tribesman

Shark Valley Tram Tours

Shark Valley Tram Tours

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By: Shayne Benowitz

Everglades National Park is one of the most unique ecosystems in the world. It’s also one of the most exciting places in Miami to explore by tour. 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. With two entrances to the park roughly an hour from South Beach, the Florida Everglades are vast and your options are nearly endless. Whether it’s hiking or biking, paddling in a canoe, gliding on an airboat or a taking a naturalist-led tour, there are plenty of ways to experience the beauty of the Everglades.

Everglades Alligator
See alligators in their natural habitat

Airboat Tours

One of the most exciting ways to get up close and personal with the Everglades is on an airboat ride. You’ll notice a number of airboat concessioners on U.S. Highway 41 (Tamiami Trail) on your way to the Shark Valley Visitor Center. Two great choices are Coopertown Everglades Airboat Tour & Restaurant, the Everglades’ original airboat outfit, or Miccosukee Indian Village. Enormous fans propel the flat-bottomed vessels as they skim across the sawgrass prairies of the Shark River Slough, where you’ll spy alligators, turtles and tropical birds. Once back onshore, learn more about Everglades snakes, turtles and alligators in their animal exhibits. You can even hold a baby alligator.

Shark Valley Bike, Tram & Naturalist-Led Tours

Activities at Shark Valley are based around a 15-mile paved loop through the Shark River Slough that you can explore by foot, by bicycle or on a tram tour guided by a park ranger or naturalist. The two-hour tram tour is a great way to see the whole of Shark Valley while learning all about the plants, animals and history of the Everglades from an expert guide.

If you’re up for a more active adventure, then bicycling the loop is a great option and rentals are available at the park. You’re also free to bring your own wheels. This self-guided tour will give you the freedom to stop and explore points of interest at your leisure. At the midway point of the loop, you’ll find a 65-foot-high observation tower you can scale to take in unobstructed views of the lush vegetation sprawling before you.

There are also a couple of walking trails accessible in a one-mile round trip from the parking lot. Don’t be surprised if you spot an alligator resting at the side of the trail, but don’t get too close either! Amble along the east road of the loop toward the Bobcat Boardwalk. Here, a raised wooden walkway winds through a bayhead tree island atop the sawgrass slough. The boardwalk connects the east and west sides of the loop, so when you emerge, continue your journey along the west road toward the Otter Cave Hammock Trail.

Kayak
Kayak through mangroves

Kayak, Canoe, & Boat Tours

The Flamingo Visitor Center and Campgrounds are located along the Florida Bay section of Everglades National Park. In this saltwater habitat where fuel docks and a boat ramp are located, boating opportunities abound. Here, you can rent canoes or kayaks or bring your own to explore some of the inland lakes and rivers, or venture along the coast of the Florida Bay where you may spot manatees, dolphins and sea turtles in the mangrove marshes. Check out Flamingo Adventures and Everglades Adventure Tours for a wide array of boat tours, as well as canoe and kayak rentals.

Bird in Everglades
Catch a glimpse of native birds

Birding & Photography Tours

Are you an avid photographer or birder? If so, the folks at Everglades Area Tours offer a private tour aimed directly at your interests. You’ll have the opportunity to encounter some of the area’s more than 300 species of birds, as well as alligators, turtles and more. Led by an experienced guide who knows all of the best nesting and breeding areas, you’ll have ample one-on-one time to learn all about the special ecosystem and get the best shots and angles.

Fishing Charters & Tours

The Everglades’ Florida Bay offers a bounty for anglers with bass, snook, tarpon, Spanish mackerel, snapper, trout and more. A fishing charter through this ecosystem is a truly unique adventure. Choose from private charters or group boats where your guide will provide tackle, rods, bait and expert knowledge of the region. Tried and true fishing guides and charters in the area include Captain Rapps Fishing Charters, Chokoloskee Charters and Everglades Fishing Charters.

How To Get There

As you plan your trip to the Florida Everglades, don’t forget to book your rental car to make the most of your time. RentalCars.com — the world’s largest online car rental booking service — is making renting a car easier and more convenient, than ever before. Driving is also a breeze. Use our guide to help you navigate your way to new adventures.

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