Gateway to the Ten Thousand Islands & EvergladesOutdoor adventurers will marvel at the abundant natural beauty that surrounds Everglades City. Read on for tips from our resident experts on where to stay, where to eat and how to explore the Florida Everglades including the best places for airboat rides.
What sets Everglades City apart from other Florida vacation spots?
Everglades City, located in the Florida Everglades, is known as the Gateway to the Ten Thousand Islands. It is a charming mix of old and new Florida and a reminder of an earlier age. This fishing village is a mecca for sports fishermen and located near Marco Island and Naples, its neighbors to the west and north. Adventurers make their way to Everglades City and its sister community Chokoloskee Island to go fishing, boating, and kayaking in the watery maze of the Ten Thousand Islands and the Gulf of Mexico. Local guides and rangers at Everglades National Park lead Everglades tours by bike, airboats, and on foot with hiking tours into the vast wilderness of the Florida Everglades. Everglades City is the perfect Florida vacation spot for visiting Everglades National Park, Big Cypress National Preserve, and Fakahatchee Strand Preserve State Park.
What is the history of Everglades City?
Everglades City history begins with the settlement of Seminole Indians driven from their tribal homes during the Seminole Wars in the mid-1800s. The ‘Glades, as locals call the region, also attracted outlaws and other refugees who came to hide in the near-impenetrable wilderness.
Prior to 1923, agriculture was the primary industry of Everglades City and produced crops as bananas and sugarcane. The founder of this Southwest Florida community and first to attract visitors is considered to be George T. Storter.
The Storter family home became the Rod & Gun Club in 1925, under the ownership of Tamiami Trail builder Barron Collier. A gathering place for hunting and fishing enthusiasts, it welcomed famous guests such as Ernest Hemingway and Dwight D. Eisenhower. Today, the waterfront Rod & Gun Club operates as a lodge and restaurant and looks much as it did in its heyday, an Old South-style beauty.
What are things to do in Everglades City?
Everglades City is the perfect Florida vacation spot for anyone who enjoys being outdoors and who appreciates an easy and relaxed pace of life.
Airboats – A Florida vacation is complete once you have glided through the Florida Everglades on an airboat. Because Everglades City is in the heart of the Everglades, there are several airboat tours to choose from with all promising a ride on the wild side!
Birding- Year-round, visitors to Everglades City have an opportunity to view a variety of bird species on land and by boat in the Ten Thousand Islands, including wading birds such as great blue herons, little blue herons and reddish egrets; osprey; bald eagles; and pelicans; while seasonally, visitors often see peregrine falcons, swallow-tailed kites, wood storks, skimmers and different species of warblers.
Boating – Everglades City is the gateway for exploring the Ten Thousand Islands National Wildlife Refuge, a maze of waterways and mangroves with islands and shallow areas serving as a nursery grounds for various marine life including endangered species. The Ten Thousand Islands extends 99 miles from Everglades City to Flamingo in Everglades National Park along the Wilderness Waterway and is only accessible by boat. Guided boat tours are offered through portions of the Ten Thousand Islands and motorized boats are available for rent. Because of its waterfront locations, boaters who bring their own boats have many options when it comes to docking their boats.
Canoeing and Kayaking – The Florida Everglades is an aquatic paradise and popular with paddlers. The 99-mile Wilderness Waterway from the Gulf Coast Visitor Center in Everglades City to Flamingo in Everglades National Park is a popular and challenging paddling trail, usually completed in eight days. Camping sites on chickees, platforms above the water, are available along the trail. Experienced paddlers should take on this trail. For a shorter trip, paddle Halfway Creek, Turner River, over to Sandfly Island and through the Ten Thousand Islands. Guided canoe and kayaking trips are available in Everglades City or they may be rented from various vendors.
Fishing – The Florida Everglades is recognized for its world-class fishing and offers challenging freshwater bass fishing and saltwater fishing in the backcountry and shallow water for a variety of species as trout, pompano, redfish, snook and tarpon. Although Everglades City is a launching point for fishing the Florida Everglades, Chokoloskee is a also a popular destination. Several experienced fishing guides are available for hire to help you create a memorable Florida Everglades vacation.
Swamp Walks – Talk a walk on the squishy side with a Florida Everglades swamp walk. These wet walks are the perfect way to immerse yourself in Florida’s watery habitat. During the winter season, when water levels are lowest, Fakahatchee Strand Preserve State Park and Big Cypress National Preserve lead free, guided swamp walks. Year-round, nature guide outfitters offer swamp walks.
Is Everglades City safe?
Throughout modern history, Everglades City was a home for smugglers, outlaws and renegades but today, this Florida Everglades community has that small-town, comfortable feel. Keep in mind crime does not have an address and can happen anyway. We suggest you do your research such as by checking websites as Sperling’s Best Places or the Collier County Sheriff’s Office.
What are the best points of interest in Everglades City?
According to the local tourism office and chamber of commerce, here are the best places to visit while you vacation in Everglades City:
Big Cypress National Preserve – The freshwater in the more than 729,000 acres of protected swamp in Big Cypress National Preserve is vital to the health of the Florida Everglades. The preserve is home to a variety of wildlife including the endangered Florida panther, as well as a mix of temperate and tropical plant communities. Within the preserve, paddle the waters, hike or bike trails, or take a scenic drive. Camping is also permitted. During the winter season, National Park Service rangers offer guided programs including talks, walks, hikes, swamp walks, canoe trips, biking adventures and night sky outings. Big Cypress National Preserve has two visitors with both offering exhibits and information, the Oasis Visitor Center and Big Cypress Swamp Welcome Center.
Captain Jack’s Airboat Tours – Enjoy a thrilling one-hour airboat tour while zipping and twirling through mangrove tunnels; glide through the Florida Everglades during an airboat tour through wide-open grasslands; hop on a swamp buggy for a tour through a cypress forest; visit the animal sanctuary with crocodiles, turtles, panthers, otters and more than 100 alligators; view and alligator show; and hug a gator.
Collier-Seminole State Park – This Florida state park is located within one of the world’s largest mangrove swamps in the world, the mangrove swamp of southern Florida. The 7,271 Collier-Seminole State Park offers a variety of activities including hiking, off-trail biking, paddling trails, fishing, biding , geo-seeking, and camping. Guided canoe trips are available inside the park (during the winter) and just outside, vendors offer guided kayak trips and pole-boating tours. The park is the site of a National Historic Mechanical Engineering Landmark, the last existing Bay City Walking Dredge built in 1924 used to build the Tamiami Trail Highway.
Fakahatchee Strand Preserve State Park – Called “the Amazon of North America, ” Fakahatchee Strand Preserve State Park is a linear swamp forest, about 20 miles long by 5 miles wide and oriented north to south. It’s home to rare and endangered tropical plant species and popular place for cycling, hiking, canoeing and kayaking, fishing in brackish and freshwater, geo-seeking, and picnicking. It’s also a great place to observe Florida Everglades wildlife including deer, bears, bobcats, turkeys, alligators, roseate spoonbills and other birds. The Karen O’Neil Memorial Garden at the park’s entrance displays native plants visitors may see during their visit.
Florida Panther National Wildlife Refuge –The Florida Panther National Wildlife Refuge is located in the heart of Florida panther habitat and was established in 1989 to protect the Florida panther. In addition to Florida panthers, other native wildlife call the refuge home including alligators, black bears, bobcats, Big Cypress fox squirrels and wood storks. Enjoy the two hiking trails and wildlife viewing.
Museum of the Everglades – This museum is devoted to displaying Everglades City history dating back to the Native Americans to present day. The permanent exhibits tell the story of adventurers who were able to thrive in this Southwest Florida community, once called the “Last Frontier.” Exhibits by local and regional artists change out monthly. The Museum of the Everglades building was added to the U.S. National Register of Historic Places in 2001.
Picayune Strand State Forest – This is the fourth largest state forest in Florida at 78,000 acres. Its habitat primarily consists of cypress swamps, wet pine flatwoods and wet prairies. Picayune Strand State Forest is popular with hikers, cyclists and equestrians who enjoy the 22-mile Belle Meade Tract.
Smallwood Store – Step into this time capsule of yesteryear and learn about the colorful history of Chokoloskee at the historic Ted Smallwood Store. The store was established in 1906 by Ted Smallwood, one of the area’s settlers. It’s located in Everglades National Park, was added to the U.S. National Register of Historic Places in 1974 and was active until 1982 when it closed its doors. About 90 percent of the original goods remained in the building and Smallwood’s granddaughter reopened it as a museum for all to enjoy and learn.
Ten Thousand Islands – The Gulf Coast Visitor Center is a National Park Service facility that serves as the gateway for exploring the Ten Thousand Islands National Wildlife Refuge, a maze of waterways and mangroves with islands and shallow areas serving as a nursery grounds for various marine life including endangered species. The Ten Thousand Islands extend from Everglades City to Flamingo in Everglades National Park and is only accessible by boat. Vendors offer Everglades boat tours through some of the Ten Thousand Islands are available as well as guided canoe and kayaking trips.
Wilderness Waterway – The 99-mile Wilderness Waterway from the Gulf Coast Visitor Center in Everglades City to Flamingo in Everglades National Park is a popular and challenging paddling trail, usually completed in eight days. Camping sites on chickees, platforms above the water, are available along the trail. Experienced paddlers should take on this trail.
Wooten’s Everglades Airboat Tours – For a thrilling day, glide across 259 acres of the Florida Everglades during an airboat tour; ride a swamp buggy through a cypress forest; watch and alligator show and hug a gator; and visit the Animal Sanctuary and see a tiger, panthers, otters, snakes and more than 100 alligators.
What are the best places to stay in Everglades City?
Everglades City offers old Florida charm because it offers independently-owned bed and breakfasts, motels and RV parks. A limited number of condos and rentals are available through private individuals.
Where is the best place to enjoy seafood in Everglades City?
Everglades City is a no-frills kind of place where you will find a delicious collection of eateries with many serving fresh seafood and gator nuggets including the Camellia Street Grill, City Seafood, Everglades Seafood Depot Restaurant, Island Café, Oyster House Restaurant, Triad Seafood Restaurant, Joanie’s Blue Crab Café and Rod and Gun Club Restaurant.
How is the weather in Everglades City?
There are many websites and weather apps available to give you the current Southwest Florida weather along with 3, 5, 7, 10 and 15-day forecasts. For averages, visit MyClimate website.
Everglades City has a subtropical climate making mild winters from January to March. The rainy season in Everglades City is June – September and should be considered when planning your vacation. July has the highest temperature with highs averaging 90+ degrees and the lows in the mid-70s with January being the coolest month with an average low of 54 degrees.