The Nature Lover’s Guide to the Florida Everglades A Day of Eco-Exploring: 6 Things to Do in the Everglades
Up for a day exploring one of the most unique eco-systems you’ll find in the entire United States? The Everglades National Park, located in South Florida, sprawls across 1.5-million acres of wetlands, coastal mangroves, sawgrass marshes and pine flatwoods home to hundreds of wildlife species. Whether you’re an adventure-seeking nature lover or a Florida visitor looking to experience one of the state’s top eco-attractions, here’s your guide to planning a full day of activities surrounded by this region’s wild, natural beauty.
Stop by the Visitor Center
The Everglades National Park is the third largest national park in the lower 48 states, which means there’s quite a bit of exploring to do. That’s why the Ernest Coe Visitor Center should be the first stop on your trip to the Everglades. With educational exhibits, maps, and info on Everglades National Park activities led by park rangers, it’s the perfect spot to gather your group and set the game plan for the rest of your adventure-packed day.
Take a Tour of Shark Valley
Deep in the wild heart of the Everglades, Shark Valley is one of the most visited areas of the park, and for good reason. This spectacular section of the ‘Glades is truly raw and untouched, except for the 15-mile paved loop used to host a tram tour of this unique habitat. Departing from the Shark Valley Visitor’s Center, the two-hour tram tour is the perfect way to learn about this eco-system and the countless species of wildlife that call it home, as well as a unique opportunity to spot some of the park’s most breathtaking views from the Shark Valley Observation Tower.
Go on an Everglades Hiking Adventure
Now that you’ve gotten a glimpse at everything the Everglades have to offer, it’s time to choose your next adventure. The park offers a number of looping trails under one or two miles, so adding a few of these to your itinerary will give you the best chance to see even more of this wild paradise. Choose from the Anhinga Trail, a 0.8-mile walk through sawgrass marsh that practically guarantees wildlife sightings; the Mahogany Hammock trail, where you’ll find the largest living mahogany tree in the US; or the Pa-hay-okee Trail, a short 0.2-mile trek to an elevated lookout point for unbeatable views of the Everglades.
Take an Everglades Airboat Tour
Time to give your legs a break and hop on an airboat tour of the swamps! There are countless options when it comes to choosing your airboat tour guide, all offering a fun, new perspective of the Everglades’ waterways. Want to get up close with the area’s gators? This is your chance. The perfect combination of thrill ride and educational adventure, no visit to the Everglades is complete without an air boat tour.
Explore by Canoe or Kayak
Ready to explore more of the Everglades’ waterways? Rent a canoe or kayak, or bring your own, for a truly immersive way to experience the marshes, swamps and grasslands. These silent vessels give you a unique opportunity to view the area’s wildlife and vegetation, and you may even be able to sneak up on an alligator basking in the sun. Rentals are available at Flamingo Marina or Gulf Coast Visitor Center, with launching points located throughout the park.
Camp Out for the Night
The fun’s not over once the sun goes down. The Everglades offer a great mix of both frontcountry and backcountry camping options. Whether you choose the creature comforts of Long Pine Key and Flamingo campgrounds, including drinking water, picnic tables, grills and restrooms, or go primitive along the backcountry beach and inland campsites throughout the ‘Glades, this is sure to be an unforgettable experience for your entire group.
While this guide features just one day’s worth of eco-activities, there are countless attractions and adventures found within the Everglades National Park. Don’t forget to share this itinerary with friends, family and fellow travelers as you plan your Everglades excursion.