Adventures in Miami :: Exploring the Everglades, Tamiami Edition

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Adventures in Miami :: Exploring the Everglades, Tamiami Edition
by CK 

The Tamiami Trail (TAMpa to mIAMI) was completed in 1928. The first east to west route ever built across the Everglades of South Florida. Fast forward to today, and most of us take I-75 Alligator Alley when heading west. Tamiami Trail, a National Scenic Byway by USDOT, is still around and leads you to some beautiful parts of the northern section of Everglades National Park and Big Cypress National Preserve.
Peaceful Bike Ride Views
Shark Valley, Everglades National Park
Heading West on Tamiami Trail, some 40 miles from "Miami Proper", you will find the entrance to Shark Valley Visitor Center. (NO sharks here..,) The $10 entrance gives you access to Everglades National Park for one week, but while you're here, the thing to do is bring or rent a bike ($7.50/hr), and bike their 15 mile trail through the park. Along the trail, you will find walking paths that lead to different ecological environments, you will see alligators (do not feed or pet), tropical birds, an occasional snake (no boas...), hammocks, and mid-way through the trail, you will find yourself at the Observation Tower. The Observation Tower has a beautiful view of the Everglades. Not a building in sight (minus the actual tower), for miles. The ride is easy, but can be intense if you're not used to a 15 mile trek..Be sure to bring water and snacks along for your ride, and for the non-bikers, there is an informative tram ride for $23.

Bike Trail
Observation Tower

hey buddy!
Miccosukee Indian Village
Continue traveling west on Tamiami Trail, and in one mile, you'll arrive at Miccosukee Indian Village. If you grew up in Miami, you were probably put on a school bus and sent on a field trip to the Miccosukee Indian Village. You watched alligator wrestling shows, held a baby alligator, learned about the Miccosukee tribe, bought random crafts, took an airboat ride, and tried alligator! Well...this place is still the same! A little touristy, a little ketchy, but uniquely Miami, and a glimpse of what our lives may have been like without all those Miami developers!!

If you're around December 26, 2014 - January 1, 2015, Celebrate the 40th Anniversary of the Annual Miccosukee Indian Arts & Crafts Festival and Fashion Show at the Miccosukee Indian Village. Doors will open daily at 10:00 AM until 5:00 PM -rain or shine.

Big Cypress National Preserve
(technically not at all in Miami-Dade County...but if you're this far out west, might as well visit!)

Nap Time
When I was younger, we would visit Marco Island pretty often and drive through Big Cypress National Preserve. Always curious from the car window, I never stepped foot in this park until my college years. My science course, Ecology of South Florida, had us visit this park...and take hikes through wet, muddy sloughs. Terrified, but brave, we walked a mile and learned something about gumbo limbo trees...and holy shit, there are alligators all around us. Yeah..didn't listen or learn a thing after I heard that. Fast forward almost 10 years...and this place is still beautiful (no longer interested in wet hikes). The preserve allows the more outdoorsy people the opportunity to hike, hunt, kayak and canoe, and if you're can participate in their Night Sky & Astronomy Programs (usually held in winter months).

The best time of year to visit the Everglades is late fall, winter, and maybe spring.
Remember it is hotter/colder inland, so plan ahead!
 (No food, water or gas in this area....or really, for miles....except for alligator bites... Plan ahead!)