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The Everglades Awaits!

Recommended for : Outdoor & Adventure

Get an early start after a pancake breakfast at the Everglades Hostel, a relaxed urban oasis in Florida City, 40 miles south of Miami International Airport.

Pack up sunscreen, bug spray, water, snacks, hat and sunglasses and drive to Everglades National Park where trails can be explored by foot, bike or kayak. Sturdy shoes, long sleeved shirt and slacks advised. The winter months offer more wildlife and fewer mosquitoes but the wonder of the park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is year around.
Stop at The Royal Palm Visitor Center at the entrance for maps and information about any ranger-led walking tours. Exploring all the hiking trails branching off the main road between the Center and Flamingo, 20 miles south, would take all day, but the $10 per car entry fee is good for seven days.
Sample the half-mile Anhinga Trail boardwalk, the shaded Gumbo Limbo Trail and the Pa-hay-okee Overlook of the Everglades "River of Grass" before exiting the park for lunch.

Head to Robert is Here, a farm stand at Palm Drive and SW 344 St. to pick up a fresh fruit picnic, boiled peanuts and imaginative fruit shakes (the Key Lime shake surpasses superlatives!). The stand is open seven days a week, 8 am to 7 pm except September and October when they're out in the fields planting winter crops.

Travel four miles south to the Everglades Alligator Farm at 40351 SW 192 St. to see the various stages of alligator breeding and hourly wildlife shows and take an airboat ride, skimming across the Everglades. For a tranquil end to the adventure, visit the gay-owned R.F. Orchids at 28100 SW 182 Ave. that has received more than 1,000 American Orchid Society awards. Sip a cool tropical drink as you wander among the orchid blooms. Closed Mondays; garden tours at 11 am and 3 pm. Saturdays and Sundays.
Return to Everglades Hostel to clean up for dinner at the family-owned Capri Restaurant, a local favorite using organic and locally grown ingredients. You may want to take advantage of the 4:30-6:30 pm Early Bird Special so you can be fresh for tomorrow's adventure: a snorkeling tour at John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park at the north end of Key Largo.