Must-see landmarks: Everglades National Park

The heart of Florida's unique natural landscape can be found at Everglades National Park. Covering more than one and a half million acres of land, this national park serves as an active habitat for dozens of wildlife indigenous to the state. Everglades National Park isn't just for nature lovers; it's prime opportunity for all types of visitors to encounter a vivid wilderness experience, whether you're looking to see a different side of the big city, a cool history lesson, or something new to do during your visit to Miami.

Must see and do at Everglades National Park
  • Park Tours via Boat or Tram: A guided tour through this expansive national park provides an awesome opportunity parts of the park that may be difficult to get to on your own. It's also a great way to get a vivid snapshot of a crocodile wading through the wetlands, or a hawk gliding across the sky. Shark Valley Tram Tours and Everglades National Park Boat Tours are the park's two leading tour companies, and operate tours throughout the year.
  • Camping: It's one of the most popular things to do here. Everglades National Park offers two camping options for visitors: Frontcountry and backcountry camping. The former can accommodate RVs and tents; the latter offers beach campsites, elevated campsites, and can be accessed from the water.
  • Ernest F. Coe Visitor Center Gallery: Through creative works of art, the beauty of The Florida Everglades is on display. It teaches visitors about the history of the park, and its importance to local, national, and global ecosystems. The gallery holds monthly exhibits to highlight the work of the artists that have contributed pieces to the gallery.
Best and worst time to go to Everglades National Park
The best time to visit are from November to May. Because Miami winters are still quite warm, the combination of that and the reduction in rain makes it much more enjoyable to enjoy the outdoors (and it keeps lots of bugs away).

The worst time to visit the national park is during "the wet season," which runs from June to early November. This also coincides with hurricane season. Temperatures often reach record highs, humidity is accelerated, and showers and thunderstorms are extremely frequent. This may agitate visitors and make visiting the park an uncomfortable experience.

Admission to Everglades National Park
The park is generally open around the clock, year-round. Admission fees include rates for private vehicles, pedestrians, cyclists, and commercial tours. Everglades National Park also offers annual passes that provides limitless visits during a 12-month period. Separate fees apply for campsites, and may vary based on location.

Wildlife at Everglades National Park
The park is home to nearly three dozen endangered and threatened species, including the American Alligator and Crocodile, the Atlantic Ridley Turtle, and the Florida Panther. Other animals that can be seen at the park the Bobcat, West Indian Manatee, Florida King Snake, and the White Ibis. Visitors can also explore more than 150 species of native plants at the park.

Insider tip for Everglades National Park
The park is accessible by car and boat. Three points of entry exist if getting to the park by car. In Homestead is the main entrance to Everglades National Park. Everglades City, a coastal city on US 41 (also known as Tamiami Trail in Miami) houses the Gulf Coast entrance. Boaters are welcome to access the park in their vessels, and can come way of the Florida Bay or the Gulf of Mexico.

Author's bio: Shawanda James is a busy freelance writer, wife, and mom of four in Miami. She giddily writes about travel on the It's All Travel Blog. She's written local and national articles for CBS. Follow Shawanda on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.