The third largest national park in the continental United States, Everglades National Park is a 2,400-square-mile expanse of subtropical wilderness, where Florida panthers roam and alligators rule. This delicate blend of sawgrass-strewn freshwater habitat, elevated hardwood hammocks, and mangrove-rich saltwater flats collectively recharges Florida’s fresh water supply and teems with flora and fauna—to the tune of 1,000 flower species, more than 360 bird species, and some 100 mammals and reptiles.
Though nearly impenetrable at its core, a well-developed park infrastructure opens up a brave world of Everglades exploration, the highlight of which is a bike ride among gators in the dark. During the full moons of March, park rangers lead night bike rides through the park’s Shark Valley area, offering a rare look into the nocturnal behavior of the Everglades’ most renowned (and notorious) creatures. Prepare to see hordes of gators hunting and vying for space, their ubiquitous, glittery eyes illuminating the horizon like fireworks and their grunts sending more than a few chills down your spine. While not for the fainthearted, it does merit major bragging rights. Shark Valley also hosts nighttime walks and meteor shower bike rides. For specific dates and to sign up, call the Shark Valley office at 305-221-8776.
Round out your staycation with these area offerings
To eat: Before a tour de Shark Valley adventure under the stars, stop by Amelia’s 1931 to fuel the fun. This nouveau diner strikes the perfect balance of Cuban, Peruvian, and Korean influences, featuring favorites such as croquetas, shrimp ceviche, and Korean fried chicken.
To do: Experience golden hour and a spectacular sunset while kayaking through the Everglades’ numerous networks of mangrove tunnels with Shurr Adventures. The three-hour tours, led by Florida master naturalists, provide a profound and whimsical view of this impressive natural landscape.
To stay: Rest and replenish after an evening of full-moon cycling at the InterContinental at Doral Miami. Less than 45 minutes from the heart of the national park, the InterContinental is a plush setting for dreams of the Everglades’ nighttime majesty.
On the western side of the Everglades, and just a short drive from your sunset kayaking
excursion, awaits the Marco Beach Ocean Resort. Reminisce about the Everglades’ twilight sights and sounds over Southern Italian splendor at the resort’s celebrated restaurant, Sale e Pepe, before unwinding in one of the coastal-chic suites.