The 9 Best Everglades Tours
See much more than alligators during one of these exciting trips.
Visiting the Everglades is a must-do activity when exploring southern Florida. (Getty Images)
If you're planning a trip to Miami or Fort Lauderdale, Florida, visiting Everglades National Park should be on your to-do list. The park is known for its expansive beauty as well as its varied population of wildlife that includes everything from bobcats to alligators. To see all the Everglades has to offer, sign up for a guided tour. U.S. News consulted both traveler sentiment and expert opinion to identify the top nine tours of the Everglades. Before you go, make sure you read through the National Park Service's Wildlife Viewing Ethics to keep both you and the animals safe during your time in the park. You should also keep in mind that many of these tour operators are at least 30 miles west of Miami and Fort Lauderdale.
Everglades Holiday Park
Everglades Holiday Park offers an hourlong narrated airboat tour that teaches participants about the various wildlife inhabiting Florida's famous wetlands. In addition to the airboat ride, travelers can take in a gator show and hold a baby alligator. In general, reviewers enjoy the tour and the show, though some say the experience feels too "commercialized" in part due to the crowds. Tours operate seven days a week with departures from the park every 20 minutes from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. When purchased online in advance, adult tickets cost approximately $35 while tickets for children ages 3 to 11 cost around $20. Kids 2 and younger ride free. Everglades Holiday Park also runs a VIP Tour, which includes round-trip transportation from Fort Lauderdale hotels or Miami hotels.
Shurr Adventures Everglades – Three Hour Mangrove Tunnel Kayak Tour
Enjoy an up-close view of animals and nature, and get some exercise in too, on this three-hour kayak tour of the Everglades' mangroves. As you paddle your way through the mangrove tunnels, you may spot orchids, birds and, of course, alligators. Kayakers say this tour is excellent and appreciate the patient, experienced guides. Tours depart daily at sunrise, 7:30 and 8:30 a.m., 1:30 p.m. and sunset. Tickets start at $109 per adult and $99 per child 11 and younger, though kids must be at least 7 to participate. Shurr Adventures Everglades also offers a full-day tour of the mangrove tunnels, as well as a motorboat tour in the Ten Thousand Islands region of Everglades National Park, among other options.
Everglades Swamp Tours – One Hour Group Tour
This hourlong exploratory trip takes you out on the water in search of alligators, birds and interesting vegetation on an airboat. Throughout the ride, knowledgeable guides share facts about the area's history and ecology. Many travelers recommend booking this tour, describing it as fun and informative, with plenty of wildlife sightings. Departures take place daily at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Tickets cost approximately $50 per adult and $25 per child; reservations are required. Also check out Everglades Swamp Tours for kayak rentals and longer, private airboat tours that last up to two hours.
Gator Park Airboat Tours
In addition to a 20-minute airboat ride, Gator Park offers travelers the opportunity to enter its on-site alligator park and see alligator wrestling at its wildlife show, both of which are included in the ticket price. You may even get the chance to hold a baby alligator. The park and the boat tours receive decent reviews, with many visitors saying they had a fantastic experience and saw tons of alligators. Tickets start at $19.99 for adults if you buy online ($24.99 at the gate) and $14.99 for kids ages 6 to 11, although children ages 5 and younger enter for free. The park is open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. with boat rides and wildlife shows taking place on the half-hour. The last wildlife show starts at 4:30 p.m. and the last boat ride leaves at 5 p.m. Gator Park also offers private tours.
Most people boat through the Everglades, but you can take a hike instead with Everglades Nature Tours.(Courtesy of Everglades Nature Tours)
Everglades Nature Tours – Take a Walk Tour
If boats aren't your thing, consider this walking tour of the Everglades. During this approximately two-hour tour, you'll walk, climb and hike through water, rocks, cypress trees, fern trails and other local vegetation. Travelers rave about the tour saying they felt completely "immersed" in the nature around them. Tours are available daily and depart every 15 minutes from 9:30 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. Adult tickets start at $33 and tickets for kids ages 7 to 12 cost approximately $15 each. Everglades Nature Tours also operates airboat rides.
Everglades City Airboat Tours
Everglades City Airboat Tours sets itself apart from other companies by offering participants two-way headsets, which allow passengers and guides to better engage with one another throughout the hourlong ride. As you navigate through narrow creeks and shallow bays, you may spot alligators, manatees and native birds. Tourists enjoy the ride and appreciate the headsets. Tours depart multiple times daily, although timing may be modified based on the season. Tickets cost approximately $45 for adults and $25 for children 10 and younger. Everglades City Airboat Tours is approximately 85 miles west of Miami and 35 miles southeast of Naples, Florida.
Buffalo Tiger's Airboat Tours – Standard Airboat Tour
For an excursion that combines cultural immersion and wildlife viewing, consider this outing from Buffalo Tiger's Airboat Tours. The company's standard tour focuses on introducing visitors to the homelands of the Miccosukee people: an American Indian tribe that migrated to Florida before it became a state. During the tour, you'll not only see local wildlife but also will get to see a Miccosukee Indian camp and take a nature walk. In total, tours last approximately 45 minutes. Visitors recommend the tour, describing it as an amazing experience. Tickets start at $27.50 for adults and $13.75 for children ages 6 to 11. Kids ages 5 and younger tag along for free. The company also offers private tours.
Shark Valley Tram Tours
These naturalist-led excursions not only include a tour around the Everglades in an open-air tram, they also give tourgoers the chance to explore on foot. Halfway through the 15-mile tour, participants can visit a 65-foot-tall observation deck to see sweeping views of the surrounding vegetation. During the two-hour tour, travelers also have the opportunity to see a variety of wildlife. Tourgoers enjoy learning about the Everglades from the expert guides and say riding the tram is part of the fun. Tickets start at $27 for adults, $21 for seniors ages 62 and older and $14 for children ages 3 to 12. From late December through April, tours depart on the hour daily from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. From May through mid-December, tours depart only at 9:30 and 11 a.m. and 2 and 4 p.m. Shark Valley Tram Tours also offers self-guided bike tours.
The River of Grass Adventures – Semi-Private River of Grass Airboat Tours Everglades
One perk of this tour is that it is capped at eight travelers per boat. During the approximately 90-minute excursion, you'll get the chance to see the famous flora and fauna of the Everglades, including herons and alligators. Visitors say this tour is fun for the whole family and call the trip "exhilarating." This tour will set you back around $85 per person, although children ages 5 to 12 can come along for half-price. These tours run seven days a week, and since they're semi-private, you must call or email to find out the best times to depart. River of Grass Adventures also offers sunset tours of the Everglades.