Welcome to Wander Wednesday where we explore destinations where you can deepen your connection to nature.
Winter is a wonderful time to explore Florida. While the weather is nice, head south for a day trip to Everglades National Park, the largest subtropical wilderness in the United States. With a variety of ways to explore – by foot, bike or tram - this is a perfect place for people of all ages to experience nature and its healing benefits.
Contrary to the name, alligators are the stars of Shark Valley, a family-friendly destination that serves as a great introduction to Everglades National Park. This sprawling landscape is teeming with a variety of flora and fauna. Located 25 miles west of the Florida Turnpike, the Shark Valley Visitor Center offers educational displays including a short informational video, gift shop, nature trails and restrooms.
A great way to learn about this biodiverse ecosystem is to sit back, relax, and enjoy a tram tour led by a trained naturalist. The tram goes to the observation tower and back (about two hours) and is available every hour from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. ($27/adults, $21/seniors, $14/children, free for children 2 and under). Tours are operating at less than 50 percent capacity to provide for social distancing. Due to reduced capacity, booking ahead is STRONGLY recommended. Visit SharkValleyTramTours.com or if online registrations have closed, call the reservation line to check tour availability and make your reservations, (305) 221-8455. Be sure to arrive at least 30 minutes prior to scheduled tour time.
Do the 15-mile loop at your own pace: rent a bike ($20/per day, 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., first come, first served) or BYOB - bring your own bike and experience the ‘Glades up close and personal. The road is well paved and suitable for most bikes. Biking is a great option for photographers and birders!
Weekdays are the ideal time to visit, but if you must go on the weekend, get there early; the parking lot fills up quickly. An alternative option is to park outside the gate and walk or ride your bike in. The cooler months are the best time to visit the Everglades; in the summer, go early in the morning or late in the afternoon and stay hydrated! Sun protection is a must any time of year.
However you decide to explore the Everglades, be sure to take time to pause and truly take it all in.
Shark Valley Visitor Center
Everglades National Park
36000 S.W. 8th Street, Miami
Entrance fee: $30/vehicle, good for one week, or buy an annual pass for $55
Face masks are required in all federal buildings and federal lands
Plan your visit at NPS.gov/Ever
About the Author
Kelly Bruce is a Certified Nature and Forest Therapy Guide/Trail Consultant and the founder of Natural Wanders. She leads forest bathing and nature therapy walks in the Blue Ridge and Smoky Mountains of Western North Carolina. Subscribe to her e-newsletter for more inspiration from nature and to learn about upcoming walks, workshops and retreats. Each Wednesday, she’ll provide inspiration to help you wander into wellness, naturally. In the meantime, follow along on Instagram and Facebook.
Photography by Kelly Bruce.
Welcome! I'm Kelly Bruce, a certified nature and forest therapy guide. Join me each week for Wander and Wellness Wednesdays, where I provide inspiration to help you improve your overall wellbeing, naturally!