Everglades National Park is the most well-known national park in Florida. What are the best things to do in the Everglades? You can read it in this article.
How to get there?
Everglades National Park is located in the south of the state of Florida, between the cities of Naples and Miami. It is a large subtropical area, with forests and swamps that are filled with interesting wildlife, like alligators.
The park has three different entrances:
- Homestead Entrance: located in the southeast, near Homestead and the Florida Keys. Through this entrance, you can visit several places: Ernest F. Coe Visitor Center, Royal Palm State Park (also called the nucleus of Everglades National Park), and Flamingo Visitor Center.
- Miami Entrance: on the east side, closest to Miami. From here you can reach the Shark Valley Visitor Center.
- Everglades City Entrance: in the west, closest to Naples. From here you can reach the Gulf Coast Visitor Center.
Most people visit the Everglades from the Miami Entrance and the Everglades City Entrance. When you’re road-tripping in Florida, it’s easy to visit a section of Everglades National Park during a drive between Miami and Naples.
How much does it cost to visit the Everglades?
A visit to the Everglades costs $ 30 per vehicle and your admission ticket is valid for 7 days. You can pre-purchase your admission ticket online or at the Homestead Entrance, the Shark Valley entrance, and the Gulf Coast Visitor Center. Are you planning to visit more national parks in the United States? Then it can be cheaper to purchase an America the Beautiful annual pass. This pass costs $ 80 and is valid for a year. You can use it for almost all the US National Parks.
Check this page for the most up-to-date information on admission prices.
Is the Everglades dangerous?
You’ve seen the word “alligator” a few times in this article and yes, that’s one reason Everglades National Park is so famous. There are a lot of alligators. Also, there are snakes and even the Florida panter lives here. However, that shouldn’t stop you from visiting the park. Keep at least 25 meters away from the animals at all times and you’ll be fine!
Things to do in Everglades National Park
What are the best sights and things to do in the Everglades?
Ride with an airboat
One of the best things to do in the Everglades is an airboat ride. These boats go quite fast and it feels like you are floating over the water! You can take an airboat ride on the grass-lands, but it is even more fun to take one through the mangroves. This is possible with the tours that depart from Everglades City. You can book a boat trip on the spot or make a reservation in advance through Get Your Guide. This way, you will immediately see what the top-rated tours are.
Note: many of the airboat tours offered are in combination with a wildlife show (where you can hold a baby alligator). This is something I don’t want to promote since I am not a fan of animal tourism. At the time, my friend and I chose to only do the airboat tour and skip the wildlife show. Do you want to make sure your tour is animal friendly? You can also choose to do an eco-tour by kayak.
Spot wildlife during a safari
Did you know you go on a safari in the Everglades? There are two routes:
- Loop Road – 43 kilometers (27 miles), mainly through the woods.
- Turner River / Wagonwheel / Birdon Roads Loop Drive – 27 kilometers (17 miles). This has more open spaces and you drive through a lot of wet grasslands.
During both scenic drives, you will undoubtedly see a lot of wildlife, such as various bird species and alligators. These routes are not very busy and that makes it feel even more adventurous!
Go cycling in Shark Valley
Did you know you can go cycling in Everglades National Park? You can rent bikes in Shark Valley and there’s a nice loop trail you can follow that has a length of 24 kilometers (15 miles). At the far end you pass an observation tower, from here you have a beautiful view of the landscape.
Do you think cycling is a bit too much? There’s also a tram you can take that follows the same road. Check this website for a timetable and reservations.
Of course, you can also go hiking in the Everglades. The Florida Trail (a long-distance hike that traverses all of Florida) runs right through the Everglades, but there are also plenty of short hiking trails to discover.
There are many hiking trails at the Homestead Entrance, with the Anhinga Trail (1.2km) being one of the most popular.
Another recommendation is the trail over the boardwalk in the Kirby Storter Roadside Park. This one is about 1.6 kilometers (a mile) long and you walk right through the swamp (but with dry feet).
Check this page for an overview of the trails in the Everglades. It is also always wise to ask around in the visitor center about the best hiking trails that are accessible at that time.
Learn about the park at the visitor center
Something you should do at every national park in the United States: go to the visitor center and learn more about the park. The best spots to learn more about the Everglades are the Ernest F. Coe Visitor Center and Shark Valley Visitor Center. Here you can get a lot of information about how the park was created and you learn about the best things to do in the park. Are you looking to see some alligators? The rangers can often point them out for you.
How much time do you need?
That of course depends on what you want to see and do! If you only have one day, you will definitely spot a few alligators, do an airboat tour and a safari. However, if you want to see all sections of the Everglades, go on a bike ride, and hike some trails, I would recommend spending two or three days on your visit to the Everglades.
What is the best time to visit the Everglades?
The Everglades has a dry and wet season. The dry season is between the beginning of December and the end of April and therefore the busiest. The temperatures are nice and there are not that many mosquitoes. In the wet season (from May to November) it can rain heavily, there are many mosquitoes and it can get very warm and humid.
The best travel time for the Everglades is therefore between December and May, but of course, you can visit the park all year round.
What to pack for visiting the Everglades?
There are a few things that are handy to bring with you when you visit the Everglades:
- Raincoat or poncho: rain showers in Florida can come unexpectedly.
- Insect repellent: especially in the wet season it is a must to apply DEET or another insect repellent.
- Food and drinks: there are no supermarkets or restaurants in the park. At most, you can buy some snacks at a visitor center.
- Fill up your tank: there are no gas stations in the park, so make sure you have a well-filled tank.
Where to stay
What are the best places to stay when visiting the Everglades?
In the park: camping
If you want to sleep in the park, this is only possible by camping at one of the campgrounds. There are two of them:
- Flamingo Campground: suitable for RVs and tents. You can also rent an eco-tent here to sleep in (glamping in the Everglades!). You can reserve a spot for the high season (December-April), otherwise, it is first-come, first-serve.
- Long Pine Key Campground: suitable for RVs and tents. First-come, first-serve.
Both campsites are accessible via the Homestead Entrance and open all year round. Check this website for more information and to reserve a spot at the campsites in the Everglades.
Stay overnight outside the park
- Travelodge by Wyndham Florida City/Homestead/Everglades (in Florida City, near Homestead)
- TownePlace Suites by Marriott Miami Homestead (in Homestead)
- Everglades Adventures Hotel Suites by Ivey House (in Everglades City)
Are you looking for some sort of special accommodation, like a cabin? You might be able to find something cool on Airbnb.
Traveling to Florida
Would you like to travel to Florida and visit Everglades National Park? In that case, you probably need a plane ticket and a rental car (or RV). There are many airports in Florida that you can fly to, so comparing prices is very easy. In your search, include at least Miami, Orlando, and Tampa, but also keep an eye on the other airports. That’s how I found a cheap ticket to Jacksonville a few years ago. Make sure to check Skyscanner for the cheapest plane tickets.
When you arrive, I would recommend renting a car or an RV (if possible) at the airport. When you travel to the US from Europe, it is best to reserve one in advance through a European website. In that case, you’ll be sure that all necessary insurance is included in your rental price. A few good organizations to rent a car or an RV are:
- AutoEurope: a great website to reserve a car when you’re traveling to the US from Europe. I usually find the best deals here.
- Rentalcars.com: good deals on rental cars for Americans and Canadians.
- RVshare: one of the best websites to rent an RV.
Do you need a sample itinerary for a road trip in Florida? I loved every second of this two-week Florida road trip.
Want to read more about Everglades National Park and Florida? Then these are a few travel guides that will make the preparations even more fun!
Do you want to read more about Florida? I also wrote these articles: