As far as North America goes, the Everglades are unique. This maze of wetlands and sawgrass prairie isn’t just beautiful, it inspires a certain lazy relaxation, if not a total desire to quit your job and flee society. So in that spirit, here’s a one-day itinerary to help you unwind and match the slow rhythm of this place.
The afternoon gets incredibly hot, especially during the humid wet season from May to October, so try to plan your physical activity for the morning. Drive over to Shark Valley in Everglades National Park, rent a bike, and ride to the end of the paved trail (about 7.5 miles) for views from the observation deck. Not to fear, it’s all flat—you’d have to drive hundreds of miles north to reach the nearest sizable hill. Alternately, you can take the park service’s tram, but either way, you’re sure to spot some hefty alligators and water birds along the way.
When lunchtime rolls around, take a picnic over to H.P. Williams Roadside Park, a 30-minute drive west of Shark Valley, technically in Big Cypress National Preserve. The river that runs through this park is like Grand Central Station for alligators, and you can watch them go about their business from overhead. There are shaded picnic tables and don’t go without your camera.
During the peak of the afternoon, you might as well take a siesta, or do something indoors. For the latter, drive 20 minutes further west to the Gulf Coast Visitor’s Center in Everglades National Park to learn about the local terrain through their displays and video. Did you know that the Everglades is not actually a swamp, but a slow-flowing river? Or that bears and panthers are part of this ecosystem? This is also the place to pick up souvenirs, books, or gifts made by local artists.
As the heats dissipates into early evening, drive just five minutes north to the Rod & Gun Club in Everglades City. You certainly don’t have to hunt or fish to have a gin and tonic on their verandah overlooking the water, hopefully with a gorgeous sunset. You could stay for dinner, or take a ten-minute walk over to the Everglades Seafood Depot, housed in the city’s old railroad station. Try some frog’s legs, conch fritters, or locally caught seafood on their serene bit of waterfront.
That’s our 1 day itinerary for you! Have you visited the Everglades and what did you do if you stayed longer?