How to see aligators with my kid in/near Miami
January 3, 2023 5:53 AM   Subscribe

In miami with my 7 year old. We want to see aligators in the wild. We don't have a car, but can rent one I guess if needed. What's the best place/way? Also : Are airboat rides super-loud? My son is very sensitive to loud noises... Thanks!!
posted by ManInSuit to Travel & Transportation around Miami, FL (10 answers total)
Airboats are loud! I have fond memories of renting canoes and drifting around in the Everglades a long time ago. Bring insect repellent.
posted by mareli at 6:14 AM on January 3 [1 favorite]

If you are up for the 1h drive, the Ernest Coe Visitor Center just inside Everglades National Park had one of the highest concentrations of different animals that I've ever seen on a short boardwalk hike. Others with more recent local knowledge may have better information about the conditions or alternatives; I haven't been there in quite some time, but it was a fantastic memory. Alligators were definitely present!
posted by zachxman at 6:15 AM on January 3 [4 favorites]

Yes, it is worth renting a car for a day to drive into the Everglades. Just a little past Ernest Coe is the Royal Palm Visitor Center and Anhinga Trail boardwalk. (NPS used to have a good webpage for this area, but now it has only this little one). It is among my favorite places in the world because anyone can go there and see so many amazing things and in particular just so many alligators. There are ranger-led hikes if he would like to have someone to ask a bunch of questions about alligators.

The only downside of Royal Palm is The Vultures. Follow the instructions to protect your car. It is the weirdest bird behavior. Your son will probably find them fascinating!

I would absolutely recommend a hike like this over an airboat. Airboats are very loud.
posted by hydropsyche at 6:44 AM on January 3 [2 favorites]

It was really bugging me that I couldn't like directly to the NPS Royal Palm site. From this Google comment, it looks like maybe the visitor center is being remodeled. The trail is still open, and from this comment, maybe the bathrooms, too.
posted by hydropsyche at 6:48 AM on January 3

I know this is a really long ways for you (like an 8 hour drive, so not practical for this trip) but the boat tours at Wakulla Springs state park do check all your other boxes.
posted by rockindata at 6:52 AM on January 3

update that it was Royal Palm that I meant, not Ernest Coe! Thanks hydropsyche!
posted by zachxman at 6:57 AM on January 3 [1 favorite]

Alligators in the wild is going to be a hit or miss. We have been to Everglade a couple of times but only saw one or two alligators each time. It will depend on the weather conditions. If it's warm they will stay hidden under the water or in shade.

On the other hand during Christmas when the temps dropped to 55F, we saw an alligator near a lake at the neighborhood park.
posted by WizKid at 9:29 AM on January 3

Airboat rides are extremely loud, but they provide hearing protection on the tours in my experience. Maybe just earplugs i cant really remember its been a while, so you might want to bring supplemental earmuff type protection.

They are also fun. I may have gone to gator park. Wherever it was had peacocks hanging out as well.
posted by TheAdamist at 9:46 AM on January 3

nthing going to the Everglades. The boardwalk hikes are easy and you'll see tons of alligators. One tip is to go at sundown and bring a flashlight. The alligators float on the surface and you can see their eyes reflected in the light from your flashlight. But beware of mosquitoes!
posted by bluesky43 at 5:36 PM on January 5

Response by poster: update: We went to the Anhinga Trail boardwalk. It was great and easy

- Drive from Miami was about 1:15
- No problems with vultures (apparently that problem has subsided)
- Saw five alligators in 15 minutes
- No mosquitoes
posted by ManInSuit at 6:07 PM on January 5

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