How To Get To Everglades National Park
The Everglades National Park is vast! It covers more than 1.5 million acres in South Florida.
Everglades National Park covers more than 1.5 million acres in South Florida.
One Day in Everglades
What you need to know is that there are three entrances to the park and they are hours apart from each other.
You can enter Everglades National Park through:
- Main Entrance of the park if you are coming from Homestead or Miami
- Or, through Shark Valley, if you are traveling from Miami
- or, the Gulf Coast in Everglades City
There is no best or worst entrance, it just all depends where you are coming from. This post is about exploring Everglades National Park coming from Homestead or Miami and entering the park through the Main Entrance.
My recommendation is to rent a car in Miami. I am pretty sure you will get the best rates. Also, make sure to check out Fort Lauderdale for flights and car rentals. I found out that it is sometimes less expensive to fly into Fort Lauderdale than Miami and rent a car in Fort Lauderdale. But, it all depends where you are coming from.
Walk The Bobcat Boardwalk Trail
It shouldnt take you very long to walk this short, half a mile trail but its the perfect place for a wander while you wait for your Shark Valley Tram Tour. Whats nice is its a wooden, flat boardwalk in the middle of nature. Its especially good if youre travelling with anyone who isnt great on their feet but wants to walk a trail.
How to do it: The trail is to the left of the ticket shop. If you want to tack on a bit more of a walk, the neighbouring Otter Cave Trail adds an extra quarter of a mile.
How To Get Around In Everglades National Park
There is no public transportation in Everglades National Park. The only way to get around in the park is to either by car or go on a tour. Once in the park, you can kayak or canoe.
First of all, if you are flying into Florida, then make sure to do a flight search. Sometimes flying into smaller airports is less expensive. However, it all depends on where you are coming from. Next, compare the rates for car rentals. I use Dicovercars.com to get the best rate.
- Go on a Tour
Going on a tour has a lot of advantages. First of all, you. do not need to drive and second, the tour guides know the best places for wildlife viewing. My choice would be to check out Everglades National Park Biologist Led Adventure: Cruise, Hike + Airboat.
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Go Kayaking In The Everglades
The Everglades are a paddlers dream with some of the best kayaking in Florida. Bring your own or rent one from the many operators in the area. There are guided ecotours like Rising Tide Explorers, or you can explore on your own by arranging for a shuttle to your chosen starting point.
The eyes of the future are looking back at us and they are praying for us to see beyond our own time. They are kneeling with hands clasped that we might act with restraint, that we might leave room for the life that is destined to come. To protect what is wild is to protect what is gentle.
About The Everglades Hotels
Accommodations near the parks range from inexpensive to moderate and offer off-season rates in summer, when rampant mosquito populations discourage spending time outdoors, especially at dusk. If you’re devoting several days to exploring the east-coast Everglades, stay in park campgrounds 11 miles away in HomesteadFlorida City, where there are reasonably priced chain motels and RV parks in the Florida Keys or in the Greater MiamiFort Lauderdale area. Lodgings and campgrounds are also plentiful on the Gulf Coast .
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What Is A Good Place To Stay For Visitors To The Everglades
What Is a Good Place to Stay for Visitors to the Everglades?
Covering 1.5 million acres of Florida’s southern tip, the Everglades National Park is swampy, humid and lush. Visitors can spend their days hiking, biking, fishing and learning about the park’s ecosystem on a guided boat or tram ride — just watch out for alligators. The proximity of nearby towns and cities makes finding a place to stay during your trip a breeze.
Shark Valley Overlook And Shark Valley Loop
The Shark Valley Overlook is at the end of the Shark Valley Loop and offers the best aerial views of the Everglades. To me, it is where you can truly experience the vastness of the Everglades National Park.
The scenic loop is 15 miles long . The Shark Valley Visitor Center offers bike rentals, or a tram tour that takes you on a informative eco-tour of the Everglades. I highly recommend you take the tour in order to understand what you are looking at and for the best gator/ wildlife spotters I have ever seen!
Funny story, when I went to use a porter potty and was trying to choose between two on this loop road I barely noticed the alligator that was sunning itself inbetween the stalls. Definitely caught me off guard!
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Drive To Shark Valley
Once youre done with your lunch, you will want to drive to Shark Valley. Yes, its takes well over an hour, but this drive will be very much worth it because Shark Valley is teeming with various animals you can see.
There are airboat rides here too if you dont treat yourself to this experience in the morning, and you will see that there are plenty of other things you can do and enjoy here. Keep reading and you will get quite a few ideas!
Skunk Ape Research Center
Located in the Big Cypress National Preserve near Naples and on the southwestern Florida Gulf Coast, the Skunk Ape Research headquarters offers its visitors detailed information on the legendary “skunk ape” patrolling the Florida Everglades.Guests at the research center embark on expeditions into the Everglades National Park to hunt the skunk ape and participate in thrilling airboat rides, swamp walks, riding on swamp buggies, and more.
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Everglades City Fl The Closest Everglades National Park Hotels
Everglades City is the option for where to stay near Everglades National Park with the best park access. The small Florida town with Everglades lodging is located right on the western border of the impressive park. There are no hotels in Everglades National Park but Everglades City is as close to the park as it gets.
When you stay at Everglades National Park hotels in Everglades City you have the Everglades atmosphere around 24/7. The authentic ambience makes Everglades City a unique option for where to stay when visiting Everglades National Park.
That Everglades City is located so close to Everglades National Park is also very comfortable for visiting the park. In Everglades City you find the Gulf Coast Visitor Center, airboat operators and a gateway to the waterways and mangrove islands at the southern end of the park.
Above all the Everglades National Park hotels in Everglades City are extremely convenient for exploring the huge national park. It just takes minutes to go from lodging in Everglades City to airboat tours and other park activities. The Everglades National Park hotels in Everglades City certainly sit in the front row.
You also find some great and unique Everglades accommodation in the town. But when you stay at Everglades hotels in Everglades City so close to the wilderness you cant expect a beachfront hotel or dreamy five-star resort.
- Driving distance: 0 mi
- Driving time: 0 min
- Pick Everglades City for: The best park access and authentic vibe.
Where To Stay Near Everglades Faq
Here you find the answers to some frequently asked questions about where to stay near Everglades National Park, Florida.
Where should I stay when visiting the Everglades?
The city with best access to Everglades National Park is Everglades City on the parks western border. In the small city you find an authentic Everglades ambience 24/7. But if you prefer a beach stay Naples and Marco Island are pristine locations on the Gulf Cost. In addition other alternatives for where to stay when visiting Everglades are Miami/Fort Lauderdale and the Upper Keys.
What is the closest city to Everglades National Park?
Everglades City is the town that is located nearest Everglades National Park. The city with Everglades lodging sits right on the western border of the national park.
Are there any hotels in Everglades National Park?
There are no hotels inside Everglades National Park. However, the hotels in Everglades City conveniently sit on the western border of Everglades National Park.
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Planning A Trip In Everglades National Park
Getting There & Access Points
Although the Everglades may seem overwhelmingly large and unapproachable, it’s easy to get to the park’s two main areas — the northern section, accessible via Shark Valley and Everglades City, and the southern section, accessible through the Ernest F. Coe Visitor Center, near Homestead and Florida City.
Northern Entrances — A popular day trip for Miamians, Shark Valley, a 15-mile paved loop road overlooking the pulsating heart of the Everglades, is the easiest and most scenic way to explore the national park. Just 25 miles west of the Florida Turnpike, Shark Valley is best reached via the Tamiami Trail, South Florida’s preturnpike, two-lane road, which cuts across the southern part of the state along the park’s northern border. Roadside attractions along the Tamiami Trail are operated by the Miccosukee Indian Village and are worth a quick, fun stop. An excellent tram tour goes deep into the park along a trail that’s also terrific for biking. Shark Valley is about an hour’s drive from Miami.
Visitor Centers & Information
General inquiries and specific questions should be directed to Everglades National Park Headquarters, 40001 S.R. 9336, Homestead, FL 33034 . Ask for a copy of Parks and Preserves, a free newspaper that’s filled with up-to-date information about goings-on in the Everglades. Headquarters is staffed by helpful phone operators daily from 8:30am to 4:30pm. You can also try www.nps.gov/ever.
‘Glades in the Spotlight
Stop At Miccosukee Indian Village
Before you finish your one day in the Everglades, you should definitely stop at Miccosukee Indian Village. Yes, this area is home to a tribe of Native Americans, and it would really be a shame to miss this opportunity to get to know their culture.
So, if you have the time, go and explore this village. There is plenty to do and see here, from various shows and presentations concerning alligators to basket weaving, archery, and many other things. A great place to pick up a souvenir or two.
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Where To Eat In The Everglades
Surprisingly, food can be hard to come by in Everglades National Park. I completely screwed this up on my first trip. Skipping breakfast in favour of collecting the car early, I ended up eating at a weird, near-empty mall in Homestead because I couldnt find anything else open .
Not taking this as a cautionary warning, I drove into the park only to find that south of Homestead there isnt a single restaurant. I ended up eating a pre-packed sandwich from the marina store in Flamingo. Thankfully my boat tour guide told me there were no other options or I would have been sharpening my Swiss Army knife and preparing to wrestle a crocodile for meat.
Even north there wasnt an abundance of restaurants in the park. Id suggest packing a picnic from Miami. Rosetta Bakery near south beach has the best deli rolls, focaccia and sandwiches. Buy them the night before .
Everglades City restaurants were hardly abundant but definitely more than within the rest of the park. The restaurant recommended by my hotel Camellia Street Grill is best summed up as: nice location, average food. I wish Id tried City Seafood just up the road instead.
What Are Some Problems In The Everglades
High phosphorus causes impacts in the Everglades such as:
- loss of the natural communities of algae that are defining characteristics of the Everglades.
- loss of water dissolved oxygen that fish need.
- changes in the native plant communities that result in a loss of the open water areas where wading birds feed.
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Clyde Butcher Big Cypress Gallery
The Clyde Butcher Big Cypress Gallery is located midway on the Tamiami trail . Clyde Butcher has been praised as the next Ansel Adams, and the best artist and gallery of Florida. It is definitely worth a stop on your road trip exploring the Everglades and South Florida. The black and white photos show the dramatic beauty of the Everglades.
If you dont mind getting wet and seeing how the artist captured the photos of the surrounding swamp take a swamp walk tour offered by the gallery October March. Also, the gallery offers cottage rentals to fully immerse yourself in the Everglades. Check it out HERE.
Move On To The Visitor Center
It is very much recommended you get an early start when visiting the Everglades National Park, especially if you want to avoid the crowds.
And the best place to start your visit is the visitor center which has been named after Ernest F. Coe. There are exhibits here and plenty of information that will show you what to expect from your one day here, so its the best way to prepare yourself for the exciting things ahead.
Spending some time here will be very much worth it.
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Find A Place To Stay Near The Park
As you wrap up your exciting first day in Everglades National Park, there are a few options for lodging accommodations.
Flamingo Campground is right on the beach near the marina, however, staying in Flamingo will leave you with some extra car time the next day.
Staying at Long Pine Key Campground, which is closer to the park entrance, or at a hotel in Florida City are the best options for splitting up the drive.
Wherever you choose to spend the night, plan to get some good rest for another fun day on your Everglades National Park itinerary!
Recommended Everglades Hotels On Marco Island
JW Marriott Luxury Everglades lodging on the beach
If you want luxury beachfront lodging near Everglades JW Marriott ticks every box. At the hotel you stay just steps from the wide and sugar-white beach. Of course the option for where to stay near Everglades also has all the amenities you need for the best of times.
Hilton Beach Resort & Spa Another top oceanfront resort
Another hotel that often is mentioned among the best places to stay on the South Florida island is the Hilton Beach Resort & Spa. The popular resort is located along the same gorgeous beach strip as the Marriott. The location on the beach but still so near the huge wetland is nothing less than remarkable.
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Garden Inn Homestead/everglades/gateway To Keys Homestead Usa
Garden Inn Homestead is a cozy inn located 3.7 miles from Homestead Miami Speedway, about five miles from Fruit Spice Park, and less than six miles from Homestead Air Force Base.
Each room has a flat-screen TV, refrigerators, free wifi, and a private bathroom with complimentary toiletries. Some rooms have a separate seating area and some offer a view of the pool or garden.
Guests will enjoy a complimentary continental breakfast, an outdoor pool, and free private parking.
This inn is an affordable option for families and couples, providing all comforts required by tired tourists who spent the day exploring the famous Sea of Grass nearby.
Museum Of The Everglades
In a quaint town called Everglades City, is the Museum of the Everglades. Not only can you learn about the history of the Everglades, but you can see a place on the U.S. National Register of Historical Places. The museum is located in an old community laundry building built in 1928. It was once the home of the Everglades Womens Club in 1965.
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Visit Nike Missile Base
Next, head to the Nike Missile Base.
Everglades National Park houses one of the best-preserved relics of the Cold War in Florida, a historic Nike Hercules missile site called Alpha Battery or HM69. It is really interesting to see the base, a missile, and learn about the individuals posted here during the Cold War and the Cuban Missile Crisis.
You can visit the site most days between early December and late March. There is an open house program, as well as Ranger-guided tours. Make sure to check with the Ernest F. Coe Visitor Center for scheduled programs at the site.
Everglades National Park houses one of the best-preserved relics of the Cold War in Florida, a historic Nike Hercules missile site called Alpha Battery or HM69.
One Day in Everglades
See The Everglades From Another Perspective
The Flamingo Marina is a great basecamp for exploring the open ocean and mangrove canals.
Here, you can rent canoes or kayaks to explore the coastline in search of more manatees, otters, alligators, birds, and even dolphins!
You can also take a mangrove kayaking tour where you enjoy an easy paddle through the unique mangrove forests of the Everglades in a sit-on-top style kayak great for first-time kayakers.
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