5 reasons to head to the Everglades for a special birthday this Friday


Everglades National Park is one of Florida’s most cherished parks. This gigantic wetland (1.5 million acres, to be exact)  is a natural habitat for thousands of alligators, snakes, birds and other wild creatures. The park extends for hundreds of miles from Central Florida to South Florida, varying its size depending on the rain and/or drought.

On Friday, August 25, you can enjoy this national park for FREE simply by entering at the Homestead and Shark Valley entrances. This doesn’t include any camping or equipment rentals. Why? Because it’s the National Park Services birthday

So if you haven’t visited Everglades National Park yet, now’s your chance. And here are 5 reasons you’ll love it:


1. History
This shallow, slow-moving sheet of water covered almost 11,000 square miles for thousands of years — then humans came around.

By the 1900s, people started turning the wetland to dry land in order to build farms and cities such as Miami and Fort Lauderdale. The Everglades National Park was established in 1947 to conserve and protect the natural landscape and prevent further damage to the land, plants and animals.  

»Related: Boost for pollution-fixing Everglades protection plan

»Related: Top 10 public parks in Palm Beach County


2. See wild animals and endangered species

The Everglades is home to many animals that have adapted to the tropical wetland. The park’s swamps are a mixture of both sweet and salt water. Some of theatened animals living at the park include the Florida pantherAmerican crocodileAmerican alligatorWest Indian manateewood stork, and snail kite. You can also see turtles, dolphins and snakes.


3. Outdoor Explorations

The park offers an endless list of outdoor activities. Biking through the trails, hiking, bird watching, camping, boating, canoeing, kayaking and fishing are just a few of them. Many people take science workshops and guided tours or volunteer to learn more about the ecosystem and nature of the park.

»Don’t forget: Plan a stop by Robert Is Here, the Disney World of fruit stands


4. Thrilling boat rides

You can’t come to the Everglades and not take a boat tour (and then not post it on social media). This is a fast way to see a lot of the park in a short amount of time. You’ll go through narrow canals and open water areas, and you’ll see animals in their natural habitat.

»Can’t see the video above? Click here to experience an Everglades airboat ride.

»You make like: Scroll through photos of Everglades park, which is home to an abandoned missile site and turned 70 on May 30, 2017


5. Alligator Heaven

Whether you’re from Florida or not, seeing a wild alligator is a thrilling experience. And to see these creatures hunt and feed in person is quiet a scary show. The Everglades is the only place on Earth where alligators and crocodiles coexist. 


If you go: 

Tip: Call to make sure which entrance is open and near you.

Address: 40001 State Road 9336  
Homestead, FL 33034  

Phone:  (305) 242-7700 

Other free days: September 30 (National Public Lands Day) and November 11-12 (Veterans Day Weekend)


Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Travel

Want to be a gastronaut? Let these tours lead the way

When it comes to consuming a culture, it’s hard to beat digesting it in the literal sense, which may explain the explosion of food-related trips.  From Texas to Turkey, food is a point of differentiation for many destinations and, according to the United Nation’s World Tourism Organization, food is helping drive tourism to rural regions...
Oregon couple reflects on 20-month, 18,000-mile cycling odyssey
Oregon couple reflects on 20-month, 18,000-mile cycling odyssey

BEND, Ore. — They had endured grueling climbs while crossing the Andes six times, relentless rain and wind, endless desert, vicious dog attacks, scary crashes and an agonizing bout with dengue fever.  So it is no wonder that when Bend’s Kristen and Ville Jokinen approached the end of their 20-month, 18,215-mile cycling journey in Ushuaia...
What’s around the Fillmore

The Fillmore stands near the confluence of three neighborhoods. Here’s what to visit in each. ——— Fillmore District For a jazzier scene in a throwback setting far smaller than the Fillmore, step across Geary Boulevard to the Boom Boom Room at 1601 Fillmore St. Once known for its association with John Lee Hooker, the Boom Boom...
Talk Travel: Going to South Dakota? There is plenty to see in addition to the National Parks

The Washington Post's Travel section writers and editors recently discussed stories, questions, gripes and more. Here are edited excerpts:  Q: We'll be staying at a cabin near Rapid City, South Dakota in late June/early July for eight nights. Besides the National Parks and National Monuments in the area, what other interesting sites are recommended?...
A road map to shopping like a royal

The British royal family has long been a source of public fascination, captivating mere mortals in Britain and beyond with a passion for all things Windsor.  Toss a wedding into the mix — specifically one so storybook as the nuptials of Prince Harry and his American fiancée, Meghan Markle, on Saturday — and the excitement swells...
More Stories