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!
Table of Contents
Learn About Everglades National Park
Everglades National Park History & Natural Features
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
Everglades Packing List: What to Pack For a Everglades Family Vacation
Everglades National Park Packing List
How To Get to Everglades National Park
- 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.
Where to Stay When Visiting Everglades National Park with Kids: Everglades Lodging for Families
Camping in Everglades National Park
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
Here’s where to eat near Everglades National Park:
How to Get Around Miami: Everglades Transportation
Best Time of Year to Visit Everglades National Park
Day Trip to Everglades: Top Everglades Checklist
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
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!
5. Narrated Everglades National Park Boat Tour on the Gulf
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
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
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.)