Ultimate Everglades Vacation Ideas

Making plans for a getaway with your family or for a recharge adventure by yourself?  Either way, the best plans are educated ones! In this article, we will discuss ideas for how to explore the Everglades  — not just at our Holiday Park. We will also recommend trails and adventures so that you get a well-rounded, immersive experience in this section of the country.


If you’ve never been on an Everglades vacation or sightseeing in Florida in general, Everglades Holiday Park is a great place to start. You can do so many things to delve deeper into your resolution of trying new things. We have extremely fun airboat rides and Everglades animal encounters, which of course, you’ll never be able to experience anywhere else in the world but right here in the Florida Everglades!

Exploring new places is not only riveting but also great for your mental health. Exploring the serenity that the Everglades has to offer can take you away from the hustle and bustle of your day-to-day activities and your usual places. What better way to explore than during an airboat adventure? An airboat ride is the perfect way to explore the world of the Everglades and cover a vast amount of waterscape and habitats in one afternoon.


Everglades National Park is the third largest national park in the continental United States so it’s no wonder that the animals in the Everglades are like none other. Many different types of animals live in the Everglades, including raccoons, skunks, opossums, turtles, bobcats, foxes, deer, coral snakes, and many species of fish – not to mention the symbol of this wild, vast ecosystem, known as the Florida panther. If you’re looking to try new things and explore new places, start your New Year off right by touring the Everglades for the animals alone! As a safe haven for many different species, there’s no other place in the world like this complex ecosystem. The Everglades has even been declared a World Heritage Site for its cultural, historical, and scientific significance.

Combining an Airboat Ride with Wildlife Watching

Our airboat experience is a fantastic way to combine the thrill of gliding over the ‘Rriver of Ggrass’ with some amazing wildlife encounters. You will find few other national parks with extreme adventures that allow you to travel at an extreme speed while also slowing way down to do some bird watching and spot alligators in the surrounding area.

Some of the wildlife visitors spot in the Everglades that they may have never seen before, including the beautiful roseate spoonbill, river otters, and snail kites. Roseate spoonbills, which get their color from the crustaceans they eat, fly by overhead and you’ll feel you’ve been transported to the Jurassic Period. Snail kites are unusual in that they are birds of prey, like eagles and hawks, but they almost exclusively eat apple snails, of all things! River otters might seem surprising for the swampy Everglades, but otters will thrive in my habitats that have enough food and water. They can actually be a sign that the ecosystem is healthy.


When you’re ready to take on the ‘Glades, we’re ready for you! At Everglades Holiday Park, we offer private and group airboat tours for children and adults of all ages. Our Everglades airboat tours are *60 minutes long, and on an airboat ride, you’ll be guided by the most experienced airboat captains in all the land. You can tour the Everglades, take in fresh scenery, try new things, and explore new places all in one shot.

Follow through with your New Year’s resolutions this year and go on an Everglades vacation. We promise you won’t be disappointed! We’re open during the holidays, on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day.

Activities You Can Do

Unforgettable Airboat Rides

There are a variety of boat tours here at Everglades Holiday Park, including group outings and private tours. All tours are led by our Everglades experts, who are ready to share plenty of firsthand knowledge and answer any questions that come up on the tour. Some of our visitors are looking for a group tour to sit back and take it all in. Others are looking for a more personalized experience at their own pace and will book a private date.

An airboat outing is a must-try activity for your family, company, or youth group. It’s a high-speed adventure with the chance to see unique views of the Everglades from right in the middle of it all!

Wildlife Watching: From Wading Birds to the Florida Panther

As the third largest park in the country and in an ecosystem where plants and animals alike are thriving, there is no shortage of amazing wildlife to spot in the Everglades. From a variety of water birds like herons and egrets, and even beautiful roseate spoonbills, to the endangered Florida panther, there is no shortage of beautiful wildlife within Everglades National Park. You’ll have a great opportunity to check some birds off your life list and many of our visiting photographers have gotten some amazing shots of everything from baby alligators to colorful snakes gliding along the water’s surface.

Canoeing and Kayaking Through Mangrove Tunnels

Many visitors to the Everglades enjoy kayaking or canoeing among the mangroves. This habitat is a great way to spot all kinds of animals: snakes, iguanas, and no shortage of birds as well as what’s thriving below the surface. Taking it slow on a kayaking trip can allow you to get some great photographs and really examine what’s thriving among the mangroves.

The Everglades allow you to more easily navigate canoeing trails by providing maps and trails for your adventure. The winding Everglades waterscape is, of course, a more complicated paddle than a straightforward ride on a river, but the navigating is sure to be an amazing experience. The Everglades Paddling Trail is on the western side of the park and includes over 120 miles of Everglades waterways to explore.

The experience of gliding through mangrove tunnels while visiting the Everglades is like no other. The mangroves of South Florida thrive in the brackish waters and grow to create partially enclosed tunnels which make endless photo opportunities. Rangers will assure you that kayaking on a self-guided tour among the mangroves is also perfectly safe and comfortable as long as you remember the essentials like bug spray, sunscreen, and water!

Popular Trails and Sights in the Everglades

Plenty of land exploration awaits you as well. There are plenty of hiking and biking trails in Everglades National Park for you to enjoy. A variety of shorter and longer journeys makes an opportunity for everyone! Hiking trails can be easily researched online to determine which one sounds right for your group! Note that some hiking trails, such as Snake Bight Trail and Long Pine Key Bike Trail, are not maintained due to the protection of federally endangered species. They are passable but should be used with caution.

Some Everglades visitors are looking for good, old-fashioned camping. Whether feet from the beach or deep in a pine forest, camping in the Florida Everglades can be quite an experience! Everglades National Park has been designated an international biosphere reserve, which means it is a protected area which tries to balance nature and humans making it the perfect spot to become one with nature! Wilderness camping sites are special sites which are not typically accessible by hiking. Campers travel by kayak, canoe, or motorboat to their site. There are a variety of sites, including beach, “chickees” (elevated huts), and ground sites.

Another option in the area is visiting the Big Cypress National Preserve which is a neighbor to Everglades National Park and crucial for the health of the Everglades. Visitors to Big Cypress National Preserve can explore many more trails, guided or independent, and explore some unique views. Big Cypress has two visitor centers, offering many interesting experiences and education. Here, visitors can learn about the cultural and historical significance of the Big Cypress area. At night, beginning in December and through March, you can get an especially spectacular view of the sky since Big Cypress is anm International Dark Sky Park.

Everglades City, just next door, has some amazing fishing excursions and museums for you to enjoy. The Museum of the Everglades explains so much of the history of the Everglades and South Florida. Admission is free. Many visitors say that Everglades City has the charm of a small town. If you plan your timing right, you might even catch the Everglades Seafood Festival in February which has been going on for over 50 years! Locals and tourists alike come to enjoy music, browse craft booths, and- of course- enjoy plenty of fresh seafood!

The Anhinga Trail and Pa-Hay-Okee Trail

The Anhinga Trail is a nice short trail that is easily accessed. Conveniently located just a few miles from the Everglades entrance and beginning at the Royal Palm Visitor Center, many people refer to the Anhinga Trail as one of the most beautiful areas in the Everglades. Visitors love the Anhinga Trail because of the endless wildlife they encounter: beautiful birds, alligators, turtles, and more. Park rangers are always more than willing to help around the visitors’ center to explain more about the area or answer questions.

In the opposite direction of the Anhinga Trail, the Gumbo Limbo Trail allows visitors to have a nice ‘prehistoric’ walk through a canopy of trees and greenery. The Gumbo Limbo Trail trail lets you focus on the abundance of plants, including gumbo limbo trees, royal palms, ferns, and air plants. It’s less than half a mile long and quiet and peaceful. The Gumbo Limbo Trail is only about 2 miles from the Ernest F. Coe Visitor Center.

The Pa-Hay-Okee Trail is one continuous raised wooden pathway. A highlight of the trail, the Overlook, is a wooden lookout area that allows visitors to see over the sea of grass. In fact, the Seminole called the Everglades ‘Pahayokee’, which means ‘grassy waters’. The Pa-Hay-Okee Trail is less than 13 miles west of the Ernest F. Coe Visitor Center and well worth the trip.

Canoeing Trails and Kayaking Adventures

While a few companies are authorized to run airboat tours deep in the ‘Glades, like Gator Park and Everglades Safari Park, you can also get out on the water in a canoe or a kayak with plenty of routes to follow. You can get a different perspective of one of the largest national parks by traveling on a canoe trail and getting a glimpse of areas you might not otherwise see. The canoe trail winds throughout marshes, mangroves, and the Ten Thousand Islands. Canoe trips can be broken up into sections of the trail, but a larger part of the trail takes days to complete. As you get closer to a bay, you may have the opportunity to find yourself paddling right next to a West Indian manatee, especially during the winter when they are seeking warmer bays.

You may rent your vessel in the Everglades, with or without a guide, but you may also bring your own canoe or kayak and enter at a public boat ramp. Keep in mind that a group tour as another option, with a park ranger or naturalist, can make your trip that much better!

Interactive Visitor Centers and Exhibits

The National Park Service has plenty of visitor centers in Everglades National Park to check out as you are exploring. The ones you want to prioritize will depend on what you’re looking to do and see. The main entrance to Everglades National Park is the Homestead entrance, where you will find the Ernest F. Coe Visitor Center. No matter which center you are visiting, you should check hours and temporary closings ahead of time online, especially with the Gulf Coast Visitors Center, which was damaged by hurricanes in both 2017 and 2022. With educational displays, brochures, films, park rangers, and more to help you learn everything you wanted to know about exploring the Everglades, you are sure to see the value in visiting them. Whether you head out to the Ernest F. Coe Visitor Center or another, these facilities are each unique in their own ways, and you can learn something new at each one.

Shark Valley Visitor Center

Unique to the Shark Valley Visitor Center is a guided tour of their bicycle loop, the Shark River Slough expedition, and the Shark Valley Tram Tour and observation tower. Guests will be excited to know that the Visitor Center has air conditioning, food, and restrooms. You can also rent bicycles for guided or independent tours. The tram tour is a great educational experience and a chance to see even more wildlife up close. You’ll want to make sure you reserve your tickets for the Shark Valley Tram Tour in advance so you don’t miss out! Visitors will be able to see the Shark Valley Observation Tower far before they reach it at the halfway mark around the loop road. At over 65 feet tall, the Shark Valley Observation Tower has unbelievable views of the sawgrass marsh from the observation deck and is accessible from their open-air tram.

Royal Palm and Flamingo Visitor Center

The Royal Palm State Park has been a protected state park for over 100 years. Royal Palm Visitor Center allows visitors to participate in their Everglades Institute and other educational sightseeing programs like the Cypress Dome Wet Walk, Eco Adventure with a naturalist, and even overnight camping in the Everglades. The Royal Palm Visitor Center has a small bookstore, vending machines, and restrooms.

Flamingo Visitor Center has plenty of activities, as well, including learning more about the amazing osprey near an active nest or discovering how the Everglades connect to the historical Cold War. The Night Wonders program explores a different view of the Everglades and the amazing night sky. On your way to the Center, you can observe some amazing birds at Coot Bay and Paurotis Pond. Ponds like Paurotis Pond and Nine Mile Pond are some of the best places to birdwatch in the Everglades. Nine Mile Pond, actually a five-mile loop, goes through the shallow grassy marsh. The Flamingo Visitor Center also has a marina store to make grabbing your outdoor supplies easy.

Gulf Coast Visitor Center

The Gulf Coast Visitor Center is considered the entrance to the Ten Thousand Islands. Unfortunately, the Visitor Center was badly damaged by a hurricane in 2017. The temporary building was again damaged in 2022 and may be currently closed. When open, the Gulf Coast and Flamingo Visitor Center are two places where you can obtain backcountry camping permits. Once permitted at one of these two centers, you’re able to stay at primitive campsites and beach sites for free.

Ranger-Led Activities and Educational Tours

There are a plethora of ranger-led activities to enjoy while vacationing. Most visitors to the Everglades will do at least one or two activities led by a park ranger or naturalist. You are sure to find an activity or tour that piques your interest! Whether searching for ghost orchids, bird watching, or paddling through the grassy sea in a kayak.. the National Park Service has something for everyone!

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