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The Everglades National Park in the southern tip of Florida encompasses over 2,400 square miles of wetlands and is home to a unique ecosystem. Naturally there’s never a shortage of things to do in the expansive area. This is what you can’t miss while on a trip to the Everglades.
The narrated tram tour takes visitors through a 15-minute loop through the grasslands for an educational tour of the area’s diverse animals and plants. The open-air tram easily accommodates families, but is often fully booked during high season of November through April so reservations are recommended. Visitors will also have access to the Shark Valley Observation Tower for panoramic views of the park.
The most popular way to sightsee in the park is no doubt a trip on an airboat. The boat with fan propeller rushes past the swamps for a thrilling adventure through the park’s murky waters home to the American alligator. An airboat captain gives riders a lesson in the vicinity’s wildlife.
Interested in petting an alligator? Alligator Farm is very much the closest you can get to these reptiles. The Everglades Alligator Farm contains more than 2,000 of these creatures, and gives visitors an alligator feeding demonstration. At the “Alligator Encounter,” visitors can hold a baby alligator, and feed alligators from a breeding pond for $69.50.
Learn about the tribe’s indigenous culture with a visit to their reservation. Deep in the Everglades, the reservation is home to the Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum where visitors can explore 30,000 historic artifacts belonging to the tribe, and even see a real village where artisans work on basket-weaving and bead-working.
Hikers can meander through short interpretive trails that linger throughout the park for a chance to explore the area at their own pace. A few trails include the Anhinga Trail, Gumbo Limbo Trail, Mahogany Hammock Trail and Pinelands Trail which loops through a forest of pines and wildflowers.
Paddle through the marshes and open waters of the park either on a canoe or kayak. Visitors can bring their own or rent one from the Flamingo Marina or Gulf Coast Visitor Center. A few top locations to kayak or canoe through are the Nine Mile Pond, or Hell’s Bay, the latter slightly more challenging.
The Everglades is home to manatees, deer, black bears, the Florida Panther and an array of bird species. Panthers may be harder to spot as they are nocturnal animals, but visitors can catch glimpses of many animals during any visit to the park. For birdwatching, the Nine Mile Pond and the Mrazek Pond is a nesting spot for wood storks, roseate spoonbills, snail kite, and ducks.
There are various locations for an camping at the park. Visitors may bring their RVs and park at the Flamingo Campground or Long Pine Key Campground, and there are numerous campsites to pitch a tent and stay the night. Visitors will have to pay a small fee at the fee station at the main park entrance in Homestead.