November 20, 2017

8 Ways to Explore the Everglades (More than Just Airboat Rides)

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Swamp Buggy

Later this summer, my family and I are going back to South Florida to visit my in-laws. One of the activities on my must-do list is a trip to the Everglades (honestly, it was on my list when we visited in April, so I’m hoping to cross it off this time). I started to research the park and was excited to see just how many ways we can enjoy this national treasure. Take a look:

  • Enjoy the Thrill of an Airboat Ride: Most often when I hear people talk about the Everglades, they talk about going on an airboat ride, and there’s no lack of airboat tour operators willing to take you and your family out on a speedy one-hour boat ride. One to check out is Everglades Holiday Park.
  • Take a Hike: While airboat tours may be popular, there are many hiking and biking trails throughout Everglades National Park. The Flamingo Trails and Pine Island Trails are both accessible from the main entrance of the park in Homestead.
  • Try a Tram Tour: Who knew you could take a tram ride through the Everglades, but yes, Shark Valley Tram Tours offers a two-hour tour through the Shark Valley section of Everglades National Park. All tours are led by a naturalist who’ll give insights into the freshwater ecosystem and share the history of the wetlands.
  • Rent a Canoe: Paddle down the Turner River or Halfway Creek to experience the wild beauty of the Everglades. Paddlers may see alligators, wading birds or even manatees. Several canoe trips are outlined here in this downloadable sheet on Gulf Coast Area Canoe Trips.
  • Take a Walk with a Ranger: Stop in the Royal Palm Visitor Center for the daily 50-minute guided ranger walk along the Anhinga Trail or stop by at 1:30 for a 30-minute stroll along the same trail. Look out for sub-tropical plants, birds and even alligators.
  • Hop Aboard a Swamp Buggy: Enjoy an elevated view of the Everglades preserve while comfortably riding through the wetlands. You and your kids will get up close and personal with native and exotic wildlife. These tours last around 45 minutes. One to check out is Billie Swamp Safari.
  • Take a Guided Bicycle Eco-Tour: Sign up for a 2.5-3 hour easy cycling tour of the Everglades with Naples Bicycle Tours. Ride among rare and endangered plants, such as native orchids and towering palms. Keep your eyes open and you may also spot diverse animals, such as minks and otters, even Florida panthers.
  • Enjoy a Boat Cruise: Hop aboard for a 1.5 hour Ten Thousand Island boat cruise into the saltwater portion of the Everglades. The tour is fully narrated by a park-trained naturalist as you weave through one of the world’s largest mangrove forests. Look out for manatees and bald eagles.

Plus, don’t forget about the Junior Ranger program. You can download the Junior Ranger booklet here for Everglades National Park, Biscayne National Park and Big Cypress National Preserve. These three national parks in South Florida teamed up for the booklet and your kids can earn a badge at each park or a patch if they visit and complete activities for all three parks.

Have you been to Everglades National Park? I’d love to hear how you and your family chose to experience the beauty of this national park.

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