Lions, Alligators, and Bears Oh My! Planning a Family Vacation to the Everglades

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If you’re thinking about planning a family vacation to Florida, consider a visit to the Everglades! If Disney World is your first thought when someone says “Florida” you’re not alone. But, there’s much more to do in the sunshine state than visit amusement parks. Florida’s largest wildlife preserve is the Everglades National Park and for families that want an outdoor, educational adventure there are plenty of activities in which to take part.

The area itself makes up 734 square miles at present however it originally was over 11,000 square miles. The wetlands have a long history fraught with tensions between people who called it home and those who sought to drain it and make the land more habitable.

Fun Things to Do on a Family Vacation to the Everglades

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The most well-known resident in the Everglades is the Everglades alligator. There are actually two types of alligator found in Florida the previously mentioned type and the American alligator. There are also crocodiles in Florida but alligators are much more common. On a trip to the Everglades you’re almost guaranteed to see an alligator, and most likely many! Take an airboat ride through the Glades, a BBQ lunch and an opportunity to hold an alligator. There’s also a tropical bird aviary and plenty of chances to see other Everglades wildlife like snakes and manatees.

From Fort Myers take a 90-minute drive south to take a kayak eco-tour through the mangrove tunnels of the Everglades. This is one of the largest mangrove forests in North America and your view from the kayak means an up close and personal look at alligators, herons, fish, and bird species. No previous experience kayaking is needed however this isn’t recommended for young children.

Want to experience life as early Everglades residents might have during your family vacation? Consider taking a multi-day kayaking and camping tour. A small group is led by an experienced naturalist guide. Paddle through wetlands by day observing alligators, dolphins, turtles, and birds. Then campout at night on secluded islands enjoying meals around the campfire and listen to the sounds of the Everglades after dark.

If your family vacation to Florida won’t take you all the way to southern tip there are still ways to experience the Everglades. The Crystal River near Orlando is host to many manatees, the gentle giants of the Everglades. You can take an airboat ride down the Homosassa River then watch a manatee feeding session at Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park. You’ll also be able to see Florida panthers, bears, and alligators. Then take a plunge in the Crystal River where you’ll be able to swim side by side with manatees. This experience is good for family members of all ages. Just don’t forget your swimsuit!

If you’d rather stay on land and see the Everglades you can drive from Homestead to Flamingo on the main road that goes through the park. You’ll see every major natural habitat and take your time. There are many places to stop and get out, as well as hiking trails just off the road. Stop at the Anhinga Trail boardwalk to watch alligators and birds.

Spend a day, or spend a week! Have you been to the Everglades? What activity do you think your family would most on a family vacation there?

3 thoughts on “Lions, Alligators, and Bears Oh My! Planning a Family Vacation to the Everglades”

  1. Hi Amanda,
    Wow! This is such an interesting and informative blog 🙂 I loved your blogs about your vacations to Turkey, Moroco and Croatia as well 🙂 I am Niyati from TripHobo.com. We have a section on our website called “Hobos We Admire”. After going through your blogs, I feel you have that hoboness in you and would love to feature you on our website. Do let me know if you are interested 🙂 I can be reached at niyati.shinde@joguru.com.

    Happy Travelling to you!

  2. The funny thing is I have lived in Florida for so long and have never visited the Everglades! I will have to add it to the list of places to visit with the kids.

  3. Wow, you must of had an amazing time. I don’t know if I would be that adventurous as to kayaking and camping but I would go on an airboat ride

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