Many are re-prioritizing their travel lists to go more places within our naturally beautiful country for their next getaway, so go ahead and make America your next Big Trip! How about traveling on Amtrak in your own sleeper car with private bathroom and touring the incredible scenery of our breathtaking National Parks? We can even include private rail lines into your trip package along with hotels, transfers, car rentals and private tours too!
As you decide which National Park to visit next, remember they're not all out West! On our East Coast there's stunning Acadia in Maine and down South, we've got the Florida Everglades National Park, which yesterday began its phased re-opening. One of the coolest family vacation memories I have as a kid is climbing onto an airboat for the first time, putting in ear plugs, and being blown away (not literally) as the loudest fan ever revved up to fly us atop the water in Everglades. It was so exhilarating! We learned about the ecosystem while looking out for alligators, and the driver lured a baby one over so we could pet its belly, which he clearly had done many times before. (Sorry, baby gator!)
Backroads is another great partner who helps us plan biking, hiking, walking, and camping trips at gorgeous locations with inspiring themes for the whole family, and their Florida tour makes the list below. The tour is multi-adventure, begins in Miami, and ends in Key West. In addition to exploring the rare floral and fauna of the Everglades, the Backroads tour will have you pedaling on the Overseas Heritage Trail's historic bridges over tropical waters and paddling under romantic mangroves too.
There are many ways to experience Florida outside the big theme parks, so let's add the enchanting Everglades to your National Park must-see list!
Story excerpt below by Susan Hanson originally appeared in the February/March 2016 issue of Virtuoso Traveler.
The Everglades' 1.5 million acres comprise not only the largest protected subtropical wetlands in the U.S., but also one of the most diverse habitats on the planet. Designated a UNESCO World Heritage site, Everglades National Park hosts some 1,300 species of flora – including cacti, bromeliads, and nearly 40 types of orchids – and is the most significant breeding ground for wading birds in North America. What’s more, one in three Floridians count on the Everglades for their water supply. This fragile ecosystem is as threatened as the many endangered species – including the leatherback turtle, manatee, and Florida panther – that find sanctuary there. Visiting the Everglades is vital to appreciating its importance, and thus to saving it. SEE IT 3 Ways to Explore the Everglades … 1. Private guided pole boat and airboat tours, along with a sunset Champagne excursion to a bird rookery, top an eight-day, custom-crafted exploration of the Everglades and South Florida with Virtuoso’s on-site tour provider. 2. Pedal through the Everglades’ pine savanna and venture into a swampy cypress dome on Backroads’ six-day multisport adventure. Other highlights include kayaking in the Florida Keys and strolling Key West. 3. The Ritz-Carlton, Naples, a resort overlooking the Gulf of Mexico, offers guided Everglades excursions that include a visit to historic Everglades City. SAVE IT … and 3 Ways to Help Preserve It.
Everglades Foundation – Conducts and sponsors scientific research to help understand, restore, and protect the Everglades’ unique ecosystem. Friends of the Everglades – Founded by famed journalist and staunch environmentalist Marjory Stoneman Douglas to encourage governmental protection for the wetlands. National Wildlife Federation – Works to ensure that state and federal Everglades protection and restoration acts are properly funded and enforced.
Contact me when you're ready for the watery wonders of Florida!