The Everglades

We’ve compiled the best of the best in The Everglades - browse our top choices for the top things to see or do during your stay.

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  • 1. Anhinga Trail

    One of the most popular trails in the Everglades, Anhinga is known for its ample wildlife viewing opportunities. The 0.8-mile, wheelchair-accessible trail cuts through sawgrass marsh and allows you to see alligators, egrets, and herons, and, of course, the trail's namesake waterbirds: anhingas. It also provides close encounters (sometimes too close) with alligators that find it pleasing to sun themselves just feet from the walkways. Easy.

    Everglades National Park, Florida, 33034, USA
  • 2. Big Cypress Gallery

    Clyde Butcher's Big Cypress Gallery is a wonderful spot for finding a postcard, a calendar, or a more serious piece of art. Butcher, a big guy with an even bigger beard, is known for his stunning photography of landscapes and his knowledge of the 'glades; his famed black-and-white images from deep within the Everglades and Big Cypress have been compared to Ansel Adams's portraits of the American West. Out back, Butcher also rents a bungalow ($295 per night, October–April) and a cottage ($350 per night, year-round).  Look into Butcher's private eco and photo swamp tours. After all, "to know the swamp, you have to get into the swamp," he says.

    52388 Tamiami Trail, Ochopee, Florida, 34141, USA
  • 3. Dante Fascell Visitor Center

    From the wide veranda of Biscayne National Park's mainland visitor center, you can soak up views of the mangroves and the bay before signing up for tours, snorkeling excursions, and ranger programs. The compact but very informative collection in the small museum offers insights into the park's natural, geological, and human history. Restrooms with showers, a gift shop, picnic tables, grills, and children’s activities are also found here.

    9700 S.W. 328th St., Sir Lancelot Jones Way, Homestead, Florida, 33033, USA

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Free
  • 4. Knaus Berry Farm

    South Florida locals count down the days until the seasonal opening (from November to April) of this Homestead bakery and U-pick strawberry farm, owned and operated by the Knaus family since 1956. Line up early for a box of legendary, gooey cinnamon rolls and a milkshake, and walk it off by picking a bag of fresh strawberries and tomatoes to take home.  The Farm Store is cash only.

    15980 S.W. 248th St., Homestead, Florida, 33031, USA

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Closed Sun. and May--Oct.
  • 5. Adams Key

    Named Adams Key as early as the 1860s, the history of this minor key far exceeds its size. Roughly a century ago, as Miami began its transformation into a winter resort, some of the nation’s most noted figures looked down the coast and saw the strand of islands that made up the Upper Keys. Conveniently close to, but comfortably removed from, the busy pace of Miami, Adams Key became the home of the exclusive Cocolobo Cay Club, a private resort for the rich and famous that welcomed presidents Harding, Hoover, Johnson, and Nixon. It was an executive trend that might have continued had Hurricane Andrew not leveled what remained of the club in 1992. The club relied on brothers Sir Lancelot and King Arthur Jones, who had developed a thriving pineapple and lime farm on adjacent Porgy Key and knew the bay’s best fishing spots. This inside information made the brothers indispensable to the club’s well-heeled guests. Arguably less elegant today than in its heyday, the island has picnic areas with grills, restrooms, dockage, and a short trail running along the shore through a hardwood hammock. Accessible only by private boat, it’s fine for a day trip since no overnight docking is available—although that’s an option you’ll find at nearby Elliott and Boca Chita Keys.

    Biscayne National Park, Florida, USA
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  • 6. Boca Chita Key

    Echoes of the past ring across Boca Chita, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places for its 10 historic structures. The park's most visited island was purchased in 1937 by Mark C. Honeywell, founder and CEO of today’s global conglomerate, and became a hip hangout, of sorts, when Honeywell invited his fellow entrepreneurs and industrialists to enjoy elegant island living and boisterous parties. Honeywell sold Boca Chita in 1942 after his wife was injured on the island and died before she could reach proper medical care. It was later enveloped into the collection of islands comprising Biscayne National Park. Still here are a pavilion, a chapel, a 65-foot-high ornamental lighthouse (make arrangements with a ranger to climb it), and a garage that Honeywell built. Today's parties, however, consist of soirees held aboard yachts that tie up in the small harbor or more basic affairs amid tents pitched in the primitive campground. A half-mile hiking trail curves around the island's south side. Note that pets aren't allowed here, and there is no potable water (or sinks or showers) but rather just portable toilets. A $35 overnight (6 pm to 6 am) docking fee covers a campsite.

    Biscayne National Park, Florida, USA
  • 7. Collier-Seminole State Park

    At Collier-Seminole State Park, opportunities to try biking, birding, hiking, camping, and canoeing in Everglades territory are plentiful. This makes the 7,000-plus-acre park a prime introduction to the elusive mangrove swampland. The campground sites come complete with electricity, water, a grill, and a picnic table. Leashed pets are allowed. Alternatively, there are "primitive" campsites accessible by foot or canoe. Of historical interest, a Seminole War blockhouse has been recreated to hold the interpretative center, and one of the "walking dredges"—a towering black machine invented to carve the Tamiami Trail out of the muck—stands silent on the grounds. Kayaks and canoes can be launched into the Blackwater River here. Bring your own, or rent a canoe from the park. The Friends of Collier-Seminole State Park organization offers guided canoe trips from December to March; reservations are recommended.

    20200 Tamiami Trail E, Florida, 34114, USA

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: $5 per vehicle; $4 for solo driver; $2 for pedestrians or bikers; camping starts at $22 per night
  • 8. Coral Castle Museum

    Driven by unrequited love, Latvian immigrant Ed Leedskalnin (1887–1951) fashioned this attraction along Dixie Highway in the early 1900s out of massive slabs of coral rock, a feat he likened to building the pyramids. You can learn how he populated this fantasy world on his property with an imaginary wife and three children, studied astronomy, and created a simple home and elaborate courtyard without formal engineering education and with mostly handmade tools. Highlights of this National Register of Historic Places site, originally named Rock Gate, include a working sundial, a banquet table shaped like Florida, and other quirky coral sculptures. Fun fact: Billy Idol wrote, recorded, and shot the video for his song “Sweet Sixteen” on the grounds of Coral Castle as a tribute to Ed. Candidly, among locals, it's known as a tourist trap.

    28655 S. Dixie Hwy., Florida, 33033, USA

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: $18, Closed Mon. to Wed.
  • 9. Elliott Key

    At 7 miles long from north to south, the park's largest key has a history that includes legends of pirates as well as the actual presence of pioneers, who began cultivating farms here in the late 1800s. In the 1950s, developers envisioned creating a tropical city called "Islandia" on this key. But it was the idea of creating a causeway needed to open the island to homes, as well as hotels and other businesses, that marked a turning point in the battle between developers and preservationists and ultimately led to the creation of Biscayne National Park. Today, without a hotel in sight, Elliott Key is a popular destination for boaters and campers. A highlight here is a 30-foot-wide sandy shoreline, the park's only swimming beach, situated a mile north of the harbor on the island's west (bay) side. In addition to having a mile-long hiking trail, Elliott Key is home to the so-called Spite Highway, a clear-cut scar that runs approximately 6 miles down the center of the island. Carved out of spite by developers in their quest to turn the lush key into a commercial haven, the meaning has changed as nature continues to spite those developers by slowly and steadily reclaiming the land. Overnight guests tie up their boats at one of the harbor's 33 slips or pitch tents at the campground, which has restrooms, picnic tables, grills, fresh drinking water, and cold showers. Either way, the fee is $35 per evening. Leashed pets are allowed in developed areas only, not on trails.

    Biscayne National Park, Florida, USA
  • 10. Ernest F. Coe Visitor Center

    The park's main visitor center is named after the Connecticut landscape designer, Ernest F. Coe, who moved to Miami at the age of 60 where he was at first intrigued by, and then fell in love with, the Everglades. It was Coe who became the leading proponent to turn this region into a national park; he raised funds, generated support, and worked out ways visitors could see the Everglades with minimal impact on the environment. This is a convenient first stop to pick up a map, watch an introductory film providing an overview of the Everglades, and view exhibits that reveal the nature of the park. The visitor center is outside park gates, so you can stop in without paying park admission (and use the restrooms). Also, due to the remoteness of this location, visitors arriving via ride-sharing services (Uber, Lyft) should plan for return transportation before starting their adventure. There's no public transportation to this site.

    40001 State Rd. 9336, Homestead, Florida, 33034, USA

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Free
  • 11. Everglades Safari Park

    A perennial favorite with tour operators, this family-run park has been in business since 1968 on a wild plot of land just 15 miles from overdeveloped west Miami. It has an arena for alligator wrestling shows with seating for up to 300 people. Before and after the show, get a closer look at both American alligators and American crocodiles on Gator Island, follow a jungle trail, walk through a small wildlife museum, or board an airboat for a 40-minute ride on the River of Grass (fee is included in park admission). The park also has a restaurant, a gift shop, and an observation platform overlooking the lush vegetation in the surrounding Everglades. Smaller, private airboats can be chartered for tours lasting 40 minutes to two hours. Check online for discounts and count on free parking.  This is one of three businesses authorized by the National Park Service to conduct airboat tours inside Everglades National Park.

    26700 S.W. 8th St., Miami, Florida, 33194, USA

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: $39
  • 12. Fakahatchee Strand Preserve State Park

    The 2,500-foot-long boardwalk at Big Cypress Bend takes visitors fairly quickly through this swamp forest, providing an opportunity to see rare plants, nesting eagles, and Florida's largest swath of coexisting native royal palms—unique to Fakahatchee Strand—with bald cypress under the forest canopy. Fakahatchee Strand is also considered the orchid and bromeliad capital of the continent, with 44 native orchids and 14 native bromeliads, many blooming most extravagantly in hotter months. It's particularly famed for ghost orchids that are visible on guided hikes. Keep an eye out for white-tailed deer, black bears, bobcats, and the Florida panther. For park nature on parade, take the 6-mile stretch of Janes Memorial Scenic Drive (between the visitor center and East Main) that's open to traffic; the rest of the drive is open only to hikers and bikers.

    137 Coastline Dr., Florida, 34137, USA

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: $3 per vehicle; $2 per person for bicyclists and pedestrians
  • 13. Flamingo Marina Store—Everglades National Park Boat Tours 2

    Next to the Flamingo Visitor Center, the only general store within Everglades National Park stocks limited groceries, snacks, souvenirs, bait, tackle, firewood, and camping supplies, as well as fuel for boats and vehicles. It's a sister operation to Everglades National Park Boat Tours in Everglades City.

    1 Flamingo Lodge Hwy., Everglades National Park, Florida, 33034, USA
  • 14. Flamingo Visitor Center

    Flamingo features a visitor center where you can consult with rangers and join walking tours, and it's also where you'll find a well-stocked marina store with beverages, snacks, camping provisions, and a gift shop. There are also boat rentals, guided boat tours, walking trails, an RV and tent campground, and a collection of "eco-tents" on the shores of Florida Bay that lean toward "glamping." The winter season is traditionally the busiest, so be sure to arrive with reservations in hand, while during the hot and rainy summer season, portions of the campground may be closed due to flooding. 

    1 Flamingo Lodge Hwy., Florida, 33034, USA
  • 15. Florida National Scenic Trail

    Florida's 1,500-mile hiking trail starts in Big Cypress National Preserve and stretches all the way to the western tip of the Panhandle, at Gulf Islands National Seashore. It's broken up into smaller trails of 6 to 28 miles each. Two 5-mile trails, Concho Billie and Fire Prairie, can be accessed in Big Cypress off Turner River Road. Pick up maps and a hiking permit at the Oasis Visitor Center. Moderate.

    52105 Tamiami Trail E, Ochopee, Florida, 34141, USA
  • 16. Florida Panther National Wildlife Refuge

    Though most of this 26,000-acre refuge is off-limits to the public to protect endangered Florida panthers, it has two short loop trails in a region lightly traveled by panthers, where visitors can get a feel for the wet prairies, tropical hammocks, and pine uplands where panthers roam and wild orchids thrive. The 1.3-mile trail is rugged and often thigh-high underwater during summer and fall; it's closed when completely flooded. The shorter trail meanders through a hardwood hammock, is wheelchair-accessible, and open year-round. For both, bring drinking water and insect repellent. Sightings are rare, but you may spot deer, black bears, and the occasional panther—or their tracks. In spring the refuge and its nonprofit host an Open House event, in which areas normally closed to public access are open for buggy tours, swamp hikes, birding tours, and plant ID walks.

    12085 State Rd. 29 S, Florida, 34142, USA

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Free
  • 17. Gator Park

    At Gator Park, you can really get to know alligators and even touch a baby gator during the park's wildlife show. You can also meet turtles, macaws, and peacocks. Native snakes also reside nearby, including the black pine snake, brooks king snake, Florida king snake, and red rat snake. The park, open rain or shine, also provides educational airboat tours through Everglades National Park, as well as a gift shop and restaurant serving swamp fare like burgers, gator tail, and sausage. Tickets include admission, a group airboat ride, and an alligator wrestling show. Private tours are available.  Gator Park is authorized by the National Park Service to give airboat rides inside Everglades National Park.

    24050 S.W. 8th St., Miami, Florida, 33194, USA

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: $27.99 online ($29.99 at gate)
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  • 18. Gulf Coast Visitor Center

    The best place to start exploring Everglades National Park's watery western side is at this visitor center just south of Everglades City (5 miles south of U.S./Highway 41/Tamiami Trail), where rangers can give you the park lowdown and provide you with informational brochures and backcountry permits. The Gulf Coast Visitor Center serves as the gateway for exploring the Ten Thousand Islands, a maze of mangrove islands and waterways that extends to Flamingo and Florida Bay and are accessible only by boat in this region. Naturalist-led boat trips are handled by Everglades Florida Adventures of Guest Services, Inc., the concessioner that also rents canoes and kayaks.

    815 Oyster Bar La., Everglades City, Florida, 34139, USA
  • 19. Loop Road

    To see the best variety of wildlife in Big Cypress, including alligators, raccoons, and softshell turtles, follow the 24-mile Loop Road, south of US 41 and west of Shark Valley. Bring binoculars for bird-watching as there are swallow-tailed kites and red-shouldered hawks here as well. Afterward, stop at the H. P. Williams Roadside Park, west of the Oasis Visitor Center, for a picnic, taking time to walk along the boardwalk to spy gators, turtles, and garfish in the river waters of the cypress swamp.

    52105 Tamiami Trail E, Ochopee, Florida, 34141, USA
  • 20. Mahogany Hammock Trail

    This half-mile boardwalk trail, accessible for those with disabilities, takes you through a hardwood hammock where the lush vegetation includes gumbo-limbo trees and air plants. This thick canopy forest is typical of South Florida and also happens to be home to America's largest mahogany tree. Along the way, listen for the calls of birds that are hidden within the thick forest. Easy.

    Everglades National Park, Florida, 33034, USA

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