Visiting the Everglades with Kids: Ultimate Family Guide to Everglades National Park

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Visiting the Everglades with kids is definitely a bucket list trip. It has the unique status of being a World Heritage Site, International Biosphere Reserve, a Wetland of International Importance – all with good reason. Both the incredible landscape and the diverse wildlife (including alligators, American crocodile, manatee, hundreds of species of birds, and more) create a unique environment that create tons of things to do in the Everglades.

We loved exploring the park with our 5 kids, and want to share some tips, tricks, and things to do in Everglades National Park with kids whether you’re taking a day trip to Everglades or spending a longer time.

Whether you’re camping, picnicking, hiking, or taking a tour in the Everglades, or even just learning about the history of the park from home, I hope this Everglades National Park guide is helpful and informative. You’ll find info on Everglades activities, lodging, and food, as well as indigenous history of the lands, book recommendations, and more – perfect whether you’ve never visited or whether you’ve been 100 times.

I hope you enjoy this Everglades travel guide!

Learn About Everglades National Park

Before we visit a national park, our family loves learning about it! It helps us enjoy it more and appreciate the people who have stewarded it well before us. We love learning about the indigenous history, as well as about wildlife and ecosystems.

Here are a few ways to learn about the park either before a visit or as part of an Everglades virtual tour!

Everglades National Park History & Natural Features

  • Everglades National Park spans 1.5 million acres across Southern Florida.
  • 36 protected threatened or protected species inhabit Everglades National Park.
  • Nearly 350 species of birds, 300 species of fresh and saltwater fish, 40 species of mammals, and 50 species of reptiles also call the Everglades home.
  • Everglades is the third largest national park in the United States after Death Valley and Yellowstone.
  • In 1976, UNESCO declared the Everglades and Dry Tortugas Biosphere Reserve, in 1979 they made the park a World Heritage Site, and in 1987, the park was named to the list of Wetlands of International Importance. Everglades is one of only three locations in the world to appear on all three lists.
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Everglades Indigenous History

  • The Miccosukee Tribe has called the Everglades home for hundreds of years and the Seminole Tribe of Florida can trace their history in the area back thousands of years. (Source)
  • The Calusa tribe occupied the southwest region, while the Tequesta, Jega, and Ais tribes were located along the southeast region of Florida. The Calusa may have been the dominant tribe, according to Spanish accounts.
  • By 1763 when the English took control of Florida, the Tequesta and Calusa tribes had been largely destroyed by European diseases. The indigenous communities that were left retreated deeper into the Everglades, while others migrated to Cuba.
  • The 1800s saw a fight between the Spanish and the United States to colonize Florida, the latter of whom was led by Andrew Jackson. The Seminole of the area lived in small bands and were able to escape into into the wilderness, leaving the colonizers confused and disoriented.
  • Over the course of 3 Seminole Wars, the native people relinquished millions of acres of land. Some remained in the area as ranchers and farmers. (Source)

Featured Everglades Picture Book: Marjory Saves the Everglades: The Story of Marjory Stoneman Douglas

Available on Amazon, Bookshop, Target, Walmart

YouTube video

Everglades Packing List: What to Pack For a Everglades Family Vacation

Everglades National Park weather tends to be relatively mild throughout the year, with a subtropical climate. This means that it can get quite humid, you’ll want to plan for rain, and you’ll definitely want to pack clothing to explore the water! Here are some of my favorite essentials to pack when traveling to Everglades National Park with kids.

Everglades National Park Packing List

How To Get to Everglades National Park

Getting to Everglades National park is unique in that it has three entrances from three different cities! There is no public transportation within the park so a car is definitely needed.

  • The closest airport is Miami International Airport (airport code: MIA).
  • If flying, you will need to rent a car and drive to the Everglades entrances. The main entrance to Everglades National Park is the Homestead entrance. This is 43 miles from MIA airport.
Map of Everglades National Park

Where to Stay When Visiting Everglades National Park with Kids: Everglades Lodging for Families

Camping in Everglades National Park

There are two front country campgrounds at Everglades National Park. These are both accessible and drive-in from the Homestead Entrance to the park. Both campgrounds can accommodate tents and RVs.

In addition to the two drive-in campgrounds, there are a number of places for wilderness camping. Most wilderness sites are reachable by canoe, kayak, or motorboat. Though a few are reachable by hiking. All overnight wilderness camping requires you to pay the park entrance fees for a pass, as well as, a permit.

Miami, FL Lodging with Kids

Here are some of the best Miami hotels for families:

Additionally, here are a few lovely VRBO properties we considered:

Where to Eat in Everglades

There are many places near the main Homestead entrance to Everglades National Park. Most have plenty of indoor and outdoor seating. There are very limited snack and beverage options inside the park at the visitor centers and campgrounds.

Here’s where to eat near Everglades National Park:

How to Get Around Miami: Everglades Transportation

You will need a car to get around Everglades National Park. While you can fly directly to Miami, it may be cheaper to fly into Fort Lauderdale and drive down.

Best Time of Year to Visit Everglades National Park

As I mentioned before, the summer in Everglades National Park tends to be hot & humid with frequent afternoon storms. Winter in Everglades tends to be cool and pleasant – December to April is the dry season and tends to have fewer mosquitoes. It’s a great time when planning when to visit Everglades National Park, but keep in mind that it will likely get crowded during these months, as well. Spring in Everglades National Park can get especially busy with spring breaks around the country.

Day Trip to Everglades: Top Everglades Checklist

If you have limited time and are wondering about what to see in Everglades National Park, here are some of our favorites for a day trip to Everglades. These would all be wonderful as part of an Everglades National Park itinerary.

  • Hike the Anhinga Trail
  • Take a Tram Tour of Shark Valley
  • Junior Ranger

These two activities will give you a wonderful overview of the beauties of the Everglades, including its wildlife and ecosystems, in a short period of time. If you have longer, be sure to drive the full road out to the Flamingo Marina and explore there!

Best Things to Do in Everglades National Park with Kids: Everglades National Park Itinerary

If you’re still not convinced and are wondering, “Is Everglades National Park kid friendly,” here’s more detail on activities at Everglades for a family vacation:

1. Hike An Everglades Trail

Everglades has a number of flat and short trails that are great for a variety of abilities. The Anhinga Trail is especially fantastic for wildlife viewing, and the boardwalk makes it wheelchair- and stroller-accessible, and the nearby Gumbo Limbo Trail is another great option.

Here are a bunch of other options for wonderful hiking trails in the Everglades whether you have plenty of time or one day in Everglades National Park!

2. Take A Tram Tour

The Shark Valley Tram Tour is a fantastic way to explore the beauty of the flora and fauna of the area. We saw tons of alligators on this tour (this is the best place for them), along with a huge variety of birds and other wildlife. The narration is also top-notch from the Park-trained naturalists. I highly recommend this tour to explore one of the most beautiful areas of Everglades National Park! It’s also a great option to see a lot of wildlife on a day trip to the Everglades.

If you’d prefer to explore on your own, you can also consider biking the 15-mile trail.

3. Everglades National Park Airboat Tour

An airboat tour is such a unique and fun way to explore the Everglades. So much of the park is based and dependent on water, so it’s exciting to get out on the water to view so much of the wildlife.

We had fun on this airboat tour with Everglades Safari Park, and enjoyed the short nature show and Jungle Trail after. (It’s one of 3 airboat tours that operates within the National Park, along with Coopertown and Gator Park.) That said, this was decidedly not the best Everglades activity in our minds – the airboat tour is actually quite loud (so children under 6 months of age aren’t allowed) and it certainly doesn’t feel very natural. There was more disturbance to the ecosystem than I expected. So while it’s definitely unique and takes you out in a new way, it definitely didn’t feel like the best way to either experience the wildlife or the peace of the area.

4. Take A Guided Canoe Trip

This was something we didn’t get to experience this time around – we just didn’t have quite long enough and with several younger kids, we thought other activities would better suit us for with that limited time. But we’re really looking forward to returning and canoeing through some of the mangroves and swamps. The Florida Everglades are actually the only place on earth where alligators and crocodiles co-exist, so we’d love to have the chance to explore this special ecosystem!

Tours are available both in the Flamingo District and the Gulf Coast area of the park.

5. Narrated Everglades National Park Boat Tour on the Gulf

If you’re not up for canoeing yourself, consider a narrated catamaran or other larger boat tour on the Gulf of Mexico. You’ll learn all about the wildlife and birds you find along the way, as well as get to explore the mangroves from the comfort of being far above the water. Some tours go out to the 10,000 Islands area of the park, one of the most diverse and beautiful.

6. Take A Driving Tour of the Park

The road to Flamingo is especially diverse and gives a great overview of various Everglades ecosystems. If you’re short on time or don’t want to do too much walking around, this is a great way to see a fair bit of the park from the comfort of your vehicle.

7. Everglades Junior Ranger & Ranger Guided Tours

Junior Ranger is always one of the first things we do when visiting a national park with kids. It’s not only a great way to learn about the park and its ecosystems, but it helps all of us (including the adults!) plan out our time while there.

The ranger guided tours are also excellent and are offered in several areas of the park. You’ll find everything from manatee talks to osprey demonstrations to nighttime programs.

8. Photography in Everglades National Park

Everglades is a photographer’s dream! With the abundance of birds and wildlife and the beautiful light on marshy lands, it makes for some pretty spectacular photography opportunities.

Here’s the photography equipment we bring along:

Photo equipment

9. Picnicking in the Everglades with Kids

There are plenty of spots to sit on a bench and enjoy some snacks or a meal. Just try to not eat too slowly or the bugs tend to flock to you!

10. Wildlife Viewing & Birding

I mean, this is sort of built into all the other activities but it’s such a quintessential part of planning an Everglades trip that I had to include it separately. The wildlife around is unique and so fun to see, and the birds especially are so diverse (there are over 300 species of them here!). And it’s amazing to see so many gators!!

11. Biking in Everglades National Park

While the Shark Valley Tram Road is a great place to bike in the Everglades, there are several other trails that are great for families. The Lone Pine Key Nature Trail, Rowdy Bend Trail, and Snake Bight are all good options. There are even some ranger-led bike tours during the dry season!

12. Purchase Fry Bread & Support the Indigenous Village

One of the neat things about this area of southern Florida is there is that the indigenous community is pretty visible. There are a number of spots that are selling fry bread, especially near Shark Valley, so be sure to stop and pick some up.

The Miccosukee Indian Village is an especially wonderful place to visit to learn about and support indigenous culture and peoples. In addition to the cafe, you’ll find a gift shop, museum, and seasonal demonstrations. (Note: the village is currently closed until further notice.)

Everglades National Park Video

Here’s a fantastic video of Everglades National Park. It’s a great way to learn about the animals native to Everglades before visiting.

YouTube video

Enjoy Your Visit to the Everglades with Kids!

We’ve loved putting together this Everglades National Park travel guide to take an in person or virtual visit to the Everglades with kids. We’d love to hear if you do any of these activities on a family trip to Everglades!

We hope to inspire curiosity and connection through exploring and learning, and we hope this guide helps you and your families. Please share any activities you do with us over on our Instagram. And we’d be delighted if you passed this guide to Everglades with kids along to others, as well!

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