AAA Travel Tips / What To Do in Everglades National Park

What To Do in Everglades National Park

Courtesy of Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau
By AAA Travel Editor Laurie Sterbens
August 10, 2021
Florida’s Everglades National Park is the third-largest national park in the lower 48 states after Death Valley and Yellowstone national parks. Visiting the Everglades is also a unique experience; unlike its western counterparts, much of this 2,400-square-mile park is covered in water and only accessible by boat. The vast tropical wilderness is home to a rich diversity of wildlife and filled with fun outdoor activities such as hiking, biking, kayaking and canoeing.
Note: Everglades National Park is open at press time, though attractions have made adjustments for public health.
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When To Go

The drier season from November to March is the best time to visit the Everglades, especially if you plan to camp. Heat and humidity, frequent rainfall and mosquitoes can make a summer visit less enjoyable.
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Where To Stay

There are AAA Approved campgrounds off the park’s main roads and on the Florida’s west coast near Everglades City.
Gator Park is an RV-only, pet-friendly campground on the northern border of the park, east of the Tamiami Trail Scenic Drive and close to attractions including Everglades Safari Park and Shark Valley Tram Tours.
Seven miles from the main entrance on Everglades National Park Scenic Road, a large campground offers RV and tent campers access to fishing and hiking trails.
At the southern end of Everglades National Park Road is the Flamingo Campground, a pet-friendly campsite for tent and RV campers near hiking and canoeing trails, tours and boat rentals. Flamingo also offers a glamping option with eco-tents, which have electricity, hotel-style beds and private patios.
There are three AAA Approved RV campgrounds near the Gulf Coast section of the park in Everglades City and Chokoloskee. Tent camping is available at campgrounds on the west end of the Tamiami Trail. AAA members can find approved campgrounds in the .
If camping is not your thing, there are AAA Diamond-designated hotels and restaurants a few miles from the park entrance in Homestead, or less than an hour south in Key Largo. The Gulf Coast section is a half-hour drive from Marco Island, which offers several AAA Diamond hotels and restaurants.
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What To Do

Be sure to stop at a visitor center as you enter the park for information, tours and activities.
Here are some of the activities you can enjoy during your visit:
Boat Tours: One of the best ways to experience the scenery and spot wildlife is on a boat, where you can see areas you can’t reach on foot. You can bring your own boat, rent one, or hop on a guided boat tour led by an experienced naturalist. Rent a skiff, pontoon or even a houseboat at Flamingo Marina, or tour the Everglades backcountry or Florida Bay on a guided cruise. Feeling adventurous? Book an airboat ride at Gator Park or Everglades Safari Park, both on the Tamiami Trail Scenic Drive.
Canoeing and Kayaking: Bring your own canoe or kayak or rent one and explore canoe trails ranging from easy to challenging. You can access popular trails and rent canoes and kayaks at Flamingo Marina, or paddle through a mangrove tunnel on a west coast trail accessible from Everglades City. If it’s your first visit, consider hiring one of the park’s approved outfitters to guide your journey.
Fishing: Everglades National Park offers both freshwater and saltwater fishing. You’ll need the appropriate Florida fishing license unless you’re under age 16 or over 65. Learn more about Florida fishing regulations here.
Hiking and Biking: Hiking and biking trails throughout the park offer everything from a short walk to a multi-day hiking or biking trek through a variety of habitats.
Wildlife viewing: More than 300 species of birds inhabit the Everglades, making it a bird-watcher’s paradise. It’s also home to many species of endangered or threatened animals including the Florida panther, American alligator, American crocodile and West Indian manatee. Take in the scenery and look for wildlife with Shark Valley Tram Tours, which offers a two-hour excursion through sawgrass prairies in an open tram.
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What Not To Do

No swimming! Did you know the Everglades are the only place in the world where you can find both alligators and crocodiles? People and pets aren’t normally on the menu for these large reptiles, but movement in the water will attract their attention, so the park prohibits swimming, diving and snorkeling.
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