Enter the park from the Ernest F. Coe Visitor Center to get information on ranger-led slough slogging (or a wet hike, for non-Florida natives), kayaking and canoeing, fishing, geocaching and other activities. You can also access several popular hiking and biking trails, along with paddling sites, including Pine Island and Flamingo, as well as the Nike Missile Base.
If you’re a cyclist, plan to bring your bike, or rent one for the day, and add a few extra minutes of driving time to your day trip from Miami or Fort Lauderdale. Enter the Everglades National Park at the Shark Valley Visitor Center off Highway 41/Tamiami Trail and you'll find a 15-mile paved, circular path called “the loop.” At the halfway point, you can stop at the huge Shark Valley Observation Tower where you can see some of the park’s largest alligators hanging out in the deeper waters.
If biking or walking the 15-mile loop sounds like more than your schedule can handle, try taking the two-hour guided Shark Valley Tram Tour, which is great for groups and meeting new people. While out on the tram, you'll see plenty of alligators soaking up the sun on the hot pavement or swimming in the canals, as well as other wildlife.
For a fast-paced adventure, look for airboat tours along the Tamiami Trail, plus tours at Everglades Holiday Park. There are also gator wrestling shows, animal encounters and talks by the Gator Boys, who are a team that works to rescue alligators from domesticated areas and bring them to a safe environment.
Day Trip to Biscayne National Park (Driving distance: 1 hour and 15 minutes)
If you really want to get away from it all, take a day trip from Miami or Fort Lauderdale and drive down to Biscayne National Park.