Best things to do in Everglades

Best things to do in the Everglades

Planning a road trip to Florida? Find out about the most exciting things to do in the Everglades!

The Everglades National Park is a unique wilderness experience. Home to some of the most fascinating wildlife on the planet, it’s a must-see for those interested in nature. Rent an RV in Orlando and drive to the Everglades National Park. Indeed, camping in the Everglades is a great way to see the area, but with so much diversity, how will you fill your days?

In this article, we take a look at some of the best things to do in the Everglades.

Anhinga Trail

Anhinga Trail
Anhinga Trail

If you’re a wildlife enthusiast visiting the Everglades National Park then you can’t miss the Anhinga Trail. This boardwalk winds its way through a sawgrass marsh, giving you glimpses of alligators, turtles, anhingas, pelicans, herons, and more.

The 0.8-mile round trip is mostly flat and wheelchair-accessible. Alligator sightings are commonplace along the route but the real star of the trail is its namesake – the anhinga. This waterbird is large and slender, with a long fan-like tail and a dagger-like bill. When swimming, only their neck rises above the water, making the bird look like a snake about to strike.

To get to the Anhinga Trail, you drive west from the Ernest F. Coe Visitor Center for two miles before turning left towards the Royal Palm Visitor Center. This is where the trail begins.

Pa-Hay-Okee Overlook

For some of the best views of the “river of grass”, aim for the Pa-Hay-Okee Overlook. This observation point provides a unique look at the immensity of the Everglades National Park, allowing visitors to look out into its heart.

The trail to get to the Pa-Hay-Okee Overlook is a 0.2-mile roundtrip along a boardwalk. Though short, this trail is unique in that it gives visitors a good look at the slow-moving river that feeds the Everglades.

To get to the Pa-Hay-Okee Overlook you drive west from the Ernest F. Coe Visitor Center for 12.5 miles. At the sign for Pa-Hay-Okee, turn right and drive another 1.3 miles. The trailhead is at the end of this road.

Flamingo Marina

The Flamingo Marina is a great place to visit for wildlife sightings and coastal views. Simply drive through the Everglades to the culmination of the road where the “river of grass” gives way to the ocean.

Located at the bottom of the Florida peninsula, the Flamingo Marina is a great basecamp for renting canoes, taking boat tours, biking along the coast, or camping near the beach. The absolute highlight of the marina, however, is the wildlife. Manatees and saltwater crocodiles call this area home.

To get to Flamingo Marina, start at the Ernest F. Coe Visitor Center and drive west for 38 miles until you hit Flamingo.

Nike Missile Base

For an awesome piece of history in the midst of the Everglades, the Nike Missile Base is the perfect day trip for any history buff. The base includes a missile assembly building, a guard dog kennel, barracks, three missile barns, and two Nike Hercules missiles. Completed in 1965, the site was built in response to the Cuban Missile Crisis.

Nike Missile Base
Nike Missile Site HM-69 also known as Hole in the Donut

These days, the base is typically open to the public during the colder months. You’re able to walk through the base, capture some pictures, and talk with volunteers and rangers about the history of the site. You can also reserve a ranger-led tour if you want to really experience the history of the place.

To get to the base, start at the Ernest F. Coe Visitor Center and drive west on the main park road for two miles. Turn left when you see the signs for Royal Palms and then turn right when you see the signs for the Nike Missile Site.

Mahogany Hammock Trail

The Mahogany Hammock Trail is a short but fascinating hike that takes you through some of the most awe-inspiring trees in the park.

Mahogany Hammock Trail
Mahogany Hammock Trail, boardwalks in the swamp

When it comes to the Everglades, a hammock refers to an area of land that’s elevated above the wetlands surrounding it. This change in elevation means trees such as mahogany are able to grow out of the water.

The Mahogany Hammock Trail takes you through dense vegetation, cutting through the trees with a boardwalk trail lined with interpretive signs that will teach you about the various trees and plants. Of special note are the peeling gumbo limbo trees as well as the biggest mahogany tree in the United States.

The whole trail is a 0.5-mile loop making for a short but pleasant trip. It’s also wheelchair accessible.

To get to the Mahogany Hammock Trail from the Ernest F. Coe Visitor Center, drive west along the main park road for 20 miles. From there, you turn right following the signs for Mahogany Hammock and drive a further 2 miles until you come upon the trailhead at the end of the road.

Shark Valley

If alligators are your thing then you can’t miss Shark Alley. This small section of the park not only sports more alligators than you can poke a stick at, but it’s also home to some of the best views of the park.

You should aim to see as much of the 15-mile loop road as possible. You have the option of walking, biking, or taking a tram tour. At its halfway point is the Shark Valley Observation Tower from which you can see some of the most breathtaking views of the Everglades in the area.

Shark Valley observation tower
Shark Valley, Observation Tower

Shark Alley is situated on the Tamiami Trail Road (Highway 41), west of Miami.

Camping

One of the best ways to see the Everglades is to camp there. That way you can see the sights without rushing and experience the overnight appeal of the wilderness.

There are two RV campgrounds in Everglades National Park:

  • Long Pine Key Campground
  • Flamingo Campground

Both campgrounds require you to reserve an RV camp spot ahead of time.

Long Pine Key Campground is a more rustic site but it’s still beautiful and open. Flamingo Campground has more amenities by far including water, showers, grills, picnic tables, and an amphitheater.

Visit the Everglades

everglades
Aerial view of the Ten Thousand Islands in the Everglades

The Everglades National Park is a one-of-a-kind experience that shouldn’t be missed. Only here will you experience the wild beauty of this unique ecosystem, seeing plants and animals that exist nowhere else on earth.

Now you have a list of some of the best things to do in the Everglades National Park!

For more ideas on where to go in Florida, don’t forget to check-out our road trip suggestion from Orlando to Key West!

About the Autor

Marie Ducharne

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