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into the Everglades, Florida





From Pamela in The Everglades.  Pamela and I share a love of the outdoors. She has taken her kids to great cities all over the world, including Asia and Africa, but some of the sweetest days are spent stateside on rivers, lakes, oceans and hiking trails. Our families have shared a few great trips together. I missed this one, but here she fills us in:

My in-laws invited my family to join them in Jupiter, Florida for Spring Break. Rather than frittering away the entire week among the beaches, golf courses, and strip malls of Florida’s east coast, we decided to spend a couple days in the Florida Everglades and then catch flights home from Fort Meyers on the west coast. The challenge for us was creating an itinerary that worked for two seniors over 85, two boys under 11, and two middle-aged world travelers who crave at least a little authenticity in their travel.

Here are the highlights:

Airboat ride: We took the slow route along U.S. 41 to Coopertown Airboat Rides in Coopertown. Our 40-minute guided airboat adventure was both fun and informative. In addition to waterfowl, we saw quite a number of alligators lurking in the saw grass and swimming through the channels that crisscross the area. The restaurant, bait shop, and ticket kiosk were picturesque in a “Deliverance” sort of way. Their shabbiness appealed to us compared to the ritziness of other airboat operations we passed on the road. That said, skip the poorly maintained reptile exhibit in the back of the facility.

Everglades accommodation: We took Map + Muse’s advice and spent the night at the Ivey House in Everglades City. In addition to friendly service and spacious, clean rooms, it had a unique local charm that did not break the bank. (It cost around $200/night/per room including breakfast.) All were pleased. The only downside was yellowish water from the bathroom taps, but apparently that is par for the course in the Everglades. Needless to say, we drank bottled water.

Guided morning kayak tour through the mangroves at Fakahatchee Strand Preserve: This was the climax of our Everglades adventure. We booked two double kayaks and a guide through the Ivey House for my husband, two sons, and me. (My in-laws opted for a bird-watching excursion around the Ten Thousand Islands, which they also booked through Ivey House and enjoyed very much.) The kayak tour was a little expensive ($99/per person), but we are glad we did it. We chose the morning tour, figuring it would be cooler and we’d have a better chance of seeing wildlife. We were not disappointed: Snowy Egrets, Great Egrets, Great Blue Herons, and Tri-colored Herons were among the majestic birds that nested in the mangroves. We spotted at least six alligators (normally from a comfortable distance) and paddled through byzantine mangrove tunnels. Thank God for our guide, who was experienced, knowledgeable, and pleasant: We could not have found our way around or out of the Everglades without him!


Posted on September 1, 2013