Florida Guide > Other Florida
Everglades National Park
We combined the Everglades National Park with a visit to Naples and Miami, in a round-trip, as it is definitely too far to do in a day from Orlando.
Take Route 41 south from Naples (also known as the Tamiami Trail) to Everglades City. If you go direct the journey is about 25 miles but we diverted off to look at Marco Island, which we can only describe as “an expensive residential marina”. Every street seems to lead to a small marina, creek or inlet and the island is loaded with boats, cruisers, yachts and extremely smart housing.
Everglades City is not a “city” in European terms, but rather a small “hick” town set at the north end of the Everglades National Park. It has one main wide street lined with houses, boat tour operators, cafés, shops, more boat tour operators, even a small alligator park. Every side road leads to a canal and there is a good choice of airboat tours. On recommendation we chose Captain Doug.
It is difficult to describe the Everglades. It is a unique area, being a true wilderness. The canals weave their way through the mangrove trees. We were told mangroves are also called “walking trees” because as their roots grow and spread they “walk” further and further into the water - fascinating. Some of the canals are really narrow and dark where the mangroves have invaded the space. Others are wider and more open.
We saw feral hogs, American stork, osprey and, of course, alligators. The airboats are the only way to see the Everglades – and the alligators – close up. The tour was amazing, interesting, exhilarating – definitely a must do!!. A word of warning though… the mosquitoes here are plentiful and they bite, so cover up well and have your insect repellent handy!
From Everglades City we rejoined the Tamiami Trail eastwards which takes you through the Big Cypress National Preserve. A stop at the visitor centre is recommended, if only for a comfort break and to stretch your legs.
Watch out for alligators as you drive along; you can see them in the small canals that run parallel to the road. The trail will eventually take you into Miami so from here you must decide to continue to the east coast or turn north on Route 997/27 to Lake Okeechobee, from where there are a choice of cross-country routes back to the Orlando metropolitan area.
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