How to Spend 3 Days in Everglades National Park
Covering the southern tip of Florida with a green swath of forests, mangroves, estuaries, and pineland, Everglades National Park is an outdoor adventurer’s dream. To go deeper than a day trip, allow three days to explore the World Heritage wetlands. From airboat and hiking tours to swimming with manatees, read on for inspiration.
Day 1: River of Grass
If you’re coming from Miami and have your own wheels, take a scenic drive via the historic Tamiami Trail, visiting an alligator farm or vintage-style gift shop along the way. Stop at Shark Valley, a gateway to Everglades National Park and the perfect place to scout for gators and birds on a 15-mile (24-kilometer) paved trail. Look for wildlife on a tram ride to the Shark Valley Observation Tower, offering an aerial view of the “River of Grass.” From there, continue west along the Tamiami Trail to Big Cypress National Preserve—hiking tours depart from inside the preserve and from trailside outposts like Ochopee. If you’re starting from Fort Myers or Naples, just enter the park from the west.
Day 2: On the Water
Bisected by a network of estuaries, rivers, and other waterways, the Everglades are best experienced by boat. See how Ten Thousand Islands earned its name, on a tour of this patchwork section near Chokoloskee Bay. Airboat tours give you a high-speed ride, while kayak and canoe tours are a slower, more athletic way to glide beneath mangrove canopies. Naturalist guides point out wildlife like herons, alligators, and even dolphins. For a close encounter with one of the Everglades’ most enchanting creatures, swim with manatees on a Crystal River ecotour. And if you’re a fishing enthusiast, book a charter to hook trout and other freshwater species.
Day 3: Flamingo
Make your way to Flamingo, the Everglades’ southernmost base camp. Water lovers can rent a canoe or kayak to explore a section of the 99-mile (159-kilometer) Wilderness Waterway, while hikers will find plenty of trail options. When you reach the Royal Palm Visitor Center (heading north), wander the Gumbo Limbo Trail and the Anhinga Trail, one of the park’s prettiest wildlife-rich spots. Linger after dark for spectacular stargazing in this remote area free from most light pollution. After a full day, there’s still time to return to Miami and freshen up for dinner or a night out in South Beach.