Florida has so much to offer – no matter if you’re looking for a place to party, a way to explore different cultures, or just good clean family fun, this state has it all. And that goes for incredible feats of nature, too. In fact, the Everglades hide a true gem, one of the most famous national parks in the whole US. That’s why spending one day here will be a dream come true for every nature lover, and this itinerary will show you how best to spend your time here and which places you shouldn’t miss for the world. Let’s get going!
What’s the best time to visit the Everglades?
You can easily visit the Everglades whenever you want because it’s a great place to visit all year round, but if you can choose, you should come here somewhere between December and April.
This is what is known as the dry season in this part of the world, and given the nature of the environment here, you will certainly appreciate the fact that the humidity is low during this time.
Of course, since this is South Florida we’re talking about, you don’t have to worry about low temperatures: they range from the 50s to the 70s (which is from about 12 to 25 degrees in Celsius), which is more than enough for a lovely day out in nature.
The wet season has a big advantage that far fewer people come to visit this wonderful place, so you can easily have the feeling of having the place all to yourself. Do keep in mind, though, that there will be more bugs flying around, and the humidity can be quite a challenge.
A few facts about the Everglades
The Everglades is the region that covers the southern tip of Florida, and the environment that has formed here is unique in the world – there is literally nothing like it anywhere else across the globe.
During the wet season, the water leaving Lake Okeechobee (about halfway between Miami and Orlando) creates an immense river that is almost 100 kilometers (60 miles) wide and more than 100 (160 km) miles long. The water here flows very slowly towards the southern tip of the peninsula.
The southernmost 20% of the region comprises Everglades National Park, which is the destination of many tourists that come visit this enchanting region.
Interestingly, there is evidence here of human habitation that goes back 15,000 years into the past, and UNESCO has designated the Everglades to be a wetland area of global importance.
So, when you’re coming here, you are coming to visit a very special place indeed.
One day in the Everglades itinerary
So, you’re about to spend one day in the Everglades National Park? Well, you have a lot of great places to choose from! Keep in mind, though, that the area is huge, so to make things easier for you, this itinerary has chosen the route that is easiest to get to from Miami because that way you can reach your accommodation in a reasonable amount of time and spend more time in the park – an important thing if you only have one day here.
Start at the alligator farm
Right at the entrance to the national is the Everglades Alligator Farm, and this is the perfect way to start your day. It’s exciting, it’s fun, and it’s so typical for this part of the US.
The farm allows you to see some truly spectacular animals, from alligators, caymans, and crocodiles all the way to various kinds of snakes. But the best thing about this is that you can hop on an airboat and go for an amazing ride, which is bound to be one of the highlights of the whole visit.
It’s a quintessentially Everglades thing to do, and you are going to love every minute of it!
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 it’s the best way to prepare yourself for the exciting things ahead.
Spending some time here will be very much worth it.
Walk the Anhinga Trail
The first thing you do after the visitor center is a walk along the Anhinga Trail. There are two main reasons for that: alligators and Anhingas, fascinating birds whose neck resembles a snake.
The trail, i.e. the boardwalk, is just one mile from the visitor center and is less than a mile in length, so this is a great way to stretch your legs and enjoy the wonderful nature. With the typical Everglades scenery surrounding you, you will quickly see what makes this place so enchanting and interesting.
True, you may need a bit of luck to spot the alligators, so keep your fingers crossed and your eyes open.
Get some lunch
If you don’t have lunch with you, go to the nearby Homestead and find a place where you can sit down for a bite. Gator’s Grill is a great choice if you fancy something exotic because here you can try alligator meat and many other interesting dishes. Plus, it’s very close to the entrance to the national park.
On the other hand, Rosita’s is an excellent choice if you’re looking for some Mexican food, and you really won’t be sorry if you choose this place as your lunch destination. Oh, and they have mariachis here, too!
Drive to Shark Valley
Once you’re done with your lunch, you will want to drive to Shark Valley. Yes, it’s 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 don’t 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!
Hop on the tram
If you’re looking to see as much as possible of this part of the Everglades, you should hop on the tram ride that is offered here. It will take you on a wonderful two-hour journey that will show you all the best places in the area around Shark Valley.
Do keep in mind that the number of tickets for the tram is limited, so it would be smart to book them in advance. Other than that, though, you can rent out a bike and enjoy a ride like no other in the world on the same route through which the tram takes you.
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.
Where to stay in the Everglades?
Courtyard by Marriot Miami Homestead
2905 North East 9th Street, Homestead, FL 33033
If you want a quality stay close to the Everglades National Park, Courtyard by Marriot Miami Homestead is just the place for that. It has an outdoor pool and extremely well-equipeed rooms with everything from a microwave to coffee machines. Furthermore, you will have access to the hotel’s fitness centre and launderette. The hotel is perfectly positioned, so you can definitely count on a great stay.
Hampton Inn and Suites Miami-South/Homestead
2855 Northeast 9th Street, Homestead, FL 33033
A great place to stay if you’re looking for accommodation close to the national park. Hampton Inn and Suites Miami-South/Homestead is just 11 miles from the Everglades, so you’ll be there in a jiffy. The hotel has an outdoor pool, very comfortable rooms and serves a great breakfast, and you can be in Miami in about half an hour. You can’t go wrong with this place!
Holiday Inn Express Doral
1691 NW 107th Ave, Doral, Doral, FL 33172
If you’re looking for accommodation near the Everglades that provides great value for your money, Holiday Inn Express Doral is your best bet. It is closer to Miami downtown, but you can still get from there to the park in a reasonable amount of time. And the hotel itself is gorgeous, clean, and very comfortable, plus they serve a great breakfast.
TownePlace Suites by Mariott Miami Homestead
935 NE 30th Terrace, Homestead, FL 33033
TownePlace Suites by Mariott Miami Homestead allows you to bring your pet over, but that’s just the beginning. It has an outdoor pool, very well-equipped suites with absolutely everything you need, and they serve a complimentary breakfast here, too. In addition, there are many activities you can partake in, like table tennis, for example. All of that is topped off with extremely friendly service.
Extra tips for visiting Everglades
– As you’re driving along the road, especially past the Ernest F. Coe Visitor Center, you will see a lot of places where you can stop and enjoy the view or do some sightseeing and exploring. Don’t miss those opportunities.
– You can plan to visit the national park accompanied by a park ranger. It certainly wouldn’t be bad having an experienced guide with you, and there are loads of programs that offer this during peak season. Check what’s available and you could have an even better time in the park.
– Fishing is allowed in the park! So, if you’re a fishing enthusiast, this will be an opportunity you won’t want to miss! Just make sure you find the right fishing spot. You can ask a ranger to point you in the right direction.
– Another thing that is allowed within the limits of the park is camping. That’s right, you can spend a magical night outdoors here, and Flamingo and Long Pine Key camps have the necessary facilities. Likewise, you can camp on some beaches, too. Find the right spot and you’ll have a great time!
Make sure you have everything you need
What to pack for your next trip?
Make your next trip as simple and as enjoyable as possible by packing smart. It’s amazing how much stress top travel items can save you, so choose carefully.
Things like lightweight travel backpacks, for example, are ideal for short trips and allow you to move around with ease, and a passport holder will make sure you keep your documents safe at all times.
Check our travel checklist guide for 2021 to make sure you haven’t missed anything, and travel to your next destination in style and with maximum comfort.
Anca is a travel writer and the founder of One Day Itinerary - the biggest collection of travel itineraries for those who are time-limited or just want to maximize their time while traveling. Although she easily becomes homesick for Croatia, she thinks travel is essential to her happiness. She has traveled to more countries than she is years old and doesn’t plan on changing that fact. In her travel guides she aims to inspire people to travel whenever they have a spare day (or two).