Florida wetland, Airboat ride at Everglades National Park in USA. Popular place for tourists, wild nature and animals.; Shutterstock ID 551715508; Your name (First / Last): Lauren Keith; GL account no.: 65050; Netsuite department name: Content Asset; Full Product or Project name including edition: Guides Project Eastern USA

Shutterstock / Romrodphoto

Everglades National Park

Top choice in The Everglades

Encompassing 1.5 million acres, this vast wilderness is one of America's great natural treasures. As a major draw for visitors to South Florida, your biggest challenge is deciding to opt for quiet pleasures like spying alligators basking in the noonday sun as herons patiently stalk their prey in nearby waters, or going the active route and kayaking in tangled mangrove canals, then wading through murky knee-high waters among cypress domes on a rough-and ready 'slough slog.'

There are sunrise strolls on boardwalks amid the awakening glimmers of birdsong, and moonlit glimpses of gators swimming gracefully by narrow channels in search of dinner. There's also backcountry camping, bicycle tours and ranger-led activities that help bring the magic of this place to life.

There are three main entrances and three main areas of the park: one along the southeast edge near Homestead and Florida City (Ernest Coe section); a second at the central-north side on the Tamiami Trail (Shark Valley section); and a third at the northwest shore (Gulf Coast section), past Everglades City. The Shark Valley and Gulf Coast sections of the park come one after the other in geographic succession, but the Ernest Coe area is entirely separate. The admission fee covers the whole park, and is good for seven consecutive days.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby The Everglades attractions

1. Pa-hay-okee Overlook

5.43 MILES

Rte 9336 cuts through the soft heart of the park, past long fields of marsh prairie, white, skeletal forests of bald cypress and dark clumps of mahogany…

2. Royal Palm Visitor Center

16.35 MILES

Four miles past Ernest Coe Visitor Center, Royal Palm offers the easiest access to the Glades in these parts. Two trails, the Anhinga and Gumbo Limbo (the…

3. Anhinga Trail

16.49 MILES

If you do just one walk in the Everglades, make sure it's on the Anhinga Trail. Gators sun on the shoreline, anhinga spear their prey and wading birds…

4. Ernest Coe Visitor Center

18.56 MILES

Near the entrance to the Everglades National Park, this friendly visitor center has some excellent exhibits, including a diorama of ‘typical’ Floridians …

5. Schnebly Redland's Winery

20.38 MILES

Given the climate, you won't find malbec, pinot noir or zinfandel – wines here are made of mango, passion fruit, lychee, avocado, coconut and other…

6. Flamingo Visitor Center

21.09 MILES

At the end of State Rd 9336 is the Flamingo Visitor Center, which overlooks a marina and the watery wilderness beyond. The chief draw here is taking…

7. Everglades Outpost

22.6 MILES

The Everglades Outpost houses, feeds and cares for wild animals that have been seized from illegal traders, abused, neglected or donated by people who…

8. Fruit & Spice Park

23.84 MILES

Set just on the edge of the Everglades, this 35-acre public park grows all those great tropical fruits you usually have to contract dysentery to enjoy…