This is # 21 in my list of blog essays about the various places you can take your kids when you’re parenting alone. If you’re parenting alone because you are divorced, separated or just have your kids for the weekend it’s important to get out of the house and interact with the world. Even in our little bubble, Naples, Florida.
When people say nice things about Florida, they talk about the beaches. When people want to say bad things about Florida, they talk about the swamps. The swamps, however, are amazing…so long as you don’t live in them! The most famous Florida swamp is the Everglades.
From Naples, our entrance to the Everglades is the Gulf Coast visitor center in Everglade City, Florida.
Located at 815 Oyster Bar Lane, Everglades City, Florida 34139. You can take either I-75 or the Tamiami Trail to get there. In both cases, you get off on State road 29 and head south towards Everglades City.
At the Gulf Coast Visitor’s Center you can get some education, pamphlets and brochures about the everglades. The hours the Gulf Coast Visitor’s Center are open is 9:00AM to 4:30PM (Mid-April through Mid-November) and 8:00AM to 4:30PM (Mid-November through Mid-April)
NOTE: As of this writing, there is only a temporary Gulf Coast Visitor’s center as the permanent one was destroyed in Hurricane Irma in 2017.
You can hire a boat tour of the Ten Thousand Islands National Park from the Gulf Coast Visitor’s Center. You can also rent a kayak or canoe to explore on your own (you are allowed to fish from these).
While you’re in Everglade City, check out the Museum of the Everglades. This museum tells the story of why we’re all here. How Barron Collier, a newspaper magnate from Tennessee, built the Tamiami trail which made all of Collier County accessible by road for the first time. This is really where the history of Naples, Florida, starts here in Everglades City.
Alternatively, you can hire numerous fishing charters out of Everglade city. This is the main business of Everglades City, fishing. This is where all the grouper and stone crabs we eat in Florida comes from. There are lots of fish markets in Everglades city where you can buy fresh caught fish and enjoy a restaurant meal.
You can walk through the everglades at the Fakahatchee Strand Preserve State Park just north of Everglades City. A two thousand foot boardwalk winds it way through the everglades. You may see alligators in the water or even panthers on the boardwalk. You will definitely see dozens of birds and hundreds of local plants. The serenity of the swamp will astound you and your children.
If you really want to explore the everglades in a more commercial fashion, it might be advisable to just hire a tour company like Everglades Excursions. They provide a half day trip into the Everglades which includes airboats and guided tours with guaranteed animal sightings.
The Museum of the Everglades is 50 miles away from my Naples, Florida family law office. Directions below: