When you think of the Everglades, images of wild alligators and vast mangroves may waddle into your mind. Add giant snakes, shady pine forests, as well as a plethora of bugs and estuary birds to the picture, and you’re not far off from the truth. With over 1.5 million acres of wetlands and protected wildlife, this UNESCO World Heritage Site and Biosphere Reserve is a true national treasure. Only an hour away from Miami Beach, the Everglades National Park simply cannot be missed. Here are some reasons why you should visit:
Alligators and Crocodiles
Nothing beats the thrill of seeing one of these creatures up close and looking directly into their bright yellow eyes. While there are lots of other notable animals in the park, alligators and crocodiles are the main stars of the Everglades’ show. These reptiles are modern-day dinosaur royalty and there is no place else in the world where you can see alligators and crocodiles living side by side in the same habitat. This park is their kingdom and visitors should not be surprised to see these creatures confidently strutting across pedestrian paths. Remember to keep your distance and if all else fails…RUN! By the end of the day if you haven’t gotten your fill of alligator experiences, then check out the restaurants around the park that offer the opportunity to eat these critters fried. Mmm, tastes like… alligator?
Hikes, Activities and Airboat Rides
The are many options for hiking as well as other activities within the park, allowing visitors to enjoy a more active vacation than just lying on the beach. The most popular hike is the Anhingan Trail, a half mile long boardwalk that gives visitors the best chances to photograph wildlife. Pick the hike that best fits your energy level and be sure to bring plenty of water, sun screen and a dab of bug repellent. In addition to hiking, you can also bike, camp, kayak or go fishing in this pristine park, so choose your own adventure! One activity that no visitor should miss is an airboat ride. These flat bottom boats skim the surface of the water thanks to the giant aircraft-like propeller and engine. Airboats are characteristic of the Everglades and the only way to catch a glimpse of the majority of the animals and birds that inhabit the immense wetlands. The sensation of flying through the subtropical grasslands is exhilarating giving visitors an egret’s eye view of the terrain.