What do you get when you mix one part environmental education, one part aquatic adventure ride, and numerous alligator sightings? An unforgettable family travel experience in the Florida Everglades.

The Florida Everglades is a great spot for families

Airboat through the Everglades! Photo credit: Pixabay

Designated a World Heritage Site, International Biosphere Reserve, and Wetland of International Importance, the Everglades is a great place to introduce your children to the wonders of the natural world. And what better way to experience this unique ecosystem than by air boat?

During our 55-minute ride, our guide, “Wild Lyle” of Loxahatchee Everglades Tours, piloted the air boat past sawgrass and water lilies, sharing environmental tidbits along the way. Skimming through the water we saw turtles, adult alligators and their hatchlings. Plus an astounding variety of native birds like storks, great blue herons, black glossy ibis, white ibis and egrets. At the tour’s end we got “pollinated” as our boat sped over a stand of cattails.

An easy one-hour drive from the boardwalk at Hollywood Beach, a visit to the Loxahatchee Everglades is a great day-trip for families looking for some eco-fun.

Planning a family holiday to the Everglades for spring break? Here are my tips for getting the most out of your family’s air boat adventure:

Before You Go to the Everglades 

  • Plan to arrive early on busy weekends when the tours are most popular.
  • Weather conditions can impact business so double-check with your tour operator to make sure the tours are running.
  • Prepare your children before your excursion by talking about the animals they might see.  Better yet, check out these photos and videos.
  • Brush up on your environmental facts about the Everglades before heading out on the water or visiting any wildlife exhibits.
  • Think your kids might get antsy on the drive to the boat launch site? Bring along some kid-friendly travel apps.

What To Bring to the Everglades

what do you love about the Everglades?
Photo Credit: Pixabay

  • Bring a windbreaker or sweatshirt. It can get chilly out there in the wild so come prepared.
  • Ask about discounts on admission tickets. Loxahatchee Everglades Tours offers a 20% discount.
  • Make sure your video equipment and camera are fully-charged so you don’t miss out on any photo ops. For ease-of-use we like the Kodak PlayTouch.
  • Pack a kid-friendly, water-proof camera so the pint-sized naturalists in your family can take their own shots.
  • Tuck a pair of binoculars into your day-bag so you can get a closer look at the birds, alligators and other wildlife.
  • Pick up a pocket reference guide to help you identify the flora and fauna that you see.

While You’re There

make sure you have all the necessities for an Everglades adventure

Photo credit: Pixabay

  • Hats and caps are apt to fly off when the boat picks up speed. If your headgear doesn’t have a chin strap or tie, stow it in your backpack until the ride’s over.
  • An air boat ride can be noisy when the fan is at top-speed. Protect your own and your child’s hearing by wearing the headsets provided.
  • Take advantage of freebie souvenirs, like the free DVD that our tour guide gave everyone in our group.
  • Some operators, like Loxahatchee Everglades Tours, have small natural history museums where you can get up close and personal with a variety of animals. If you and your children prefer to see live animals, skip these attractions.

Loxahatchee Everglades Tours, one of many air boat tour operators, is open to the public seven days a week. Special private tours are available on Thanksgiving, Christmas Day, New Year’s Day and Easter Sunday.

Justine Ickes, a contributing writer for  Washington Parent, writes about travel, culture, education and people making a difference.