The Budget Savvy Travelers

Best Places to See Alligators On Your Florida Vacation

Where are the best places to see alligators in Florida? Southern Florida’s tropical climate offers the opportunity to see alligators year-round. This is because alligators love warm water and weather. When most people travel to Florida, one of their must-do activities is to see the state’s most iconic animal—the American alligator.

If you are touring the Fort Lauderdale region, the following places will offer some of your best chances to spot Florida wildlife. The best places to see alligators on your Florida vacation are:

  1.  Jungle Queen Island
  2. Everglades National Park
  3. On an airboat ride
  4. Everglades Holiday Park
Most travelers add the Everglades to their itinerary. This is an aerial shot from the road into the park.

1. Cruise to Jungle Queen Island

Jungle Queen has been cruising the canals of Fort Lauderdale since 1935. The Jungle Queen Island Tour takes you on a breezy trip down the New River where you can see what Florida locals refer to as “Millionaire Row.”

The captain and narrator point out sprawling mansions and mega yachts of the rich and famous. You can also see mansions that were featured in several Blockbuster Hollywood movies.

Come experience Florida’s wildlife—like this eye-catching orange iguana. | Best Places to See Alligators On Your Florida Vacation

About halfway through the cruise, the riverboat lands on a little private island called Jungle Queen Island. Here you can watch an alligator show, check out some exotic animals, and enjoy a bite to eat. The island has some opportunities for some really pretty photos of the lush tropical plants and trees.

Be sure to bring your cameras and tripods. After a nice hour cruise down the river, it was nice to get the opportunity to enjoy some local wildlife up close and personal. Many people decide to pay a few dollars to get a token vacation photograph holding a baby alligator or wearing colorful parrots on their shoulders. 

The Jungle Queen is a Fort Lauderdale institution and the only way to get to Jungle Queen Island. | Best Places to See Alligators On Your Florida Vacation

2. Visit Everglades National Park 

One of the main reasons people visit Florida’s Everglades Park is to see its thriving alligator population. Statistics indicate that there are over 200,000 alligators in the National Park and approximately 1.5 million in the state of Florida.

Alligators are a natural part of the Everglades’ ecosystem. Although Alligators are typically found in marshes and freshwater swamps, they also can be found in lakes, rivers, and small bodies of water. 

It’s true. You can get up close and personal with American alligators along the Shark Valley Everglades paved trails. | Best Places to See Alligators On Your Florida Vacation

One of the best ways to see the wildlife in the Everglades National Park is by foot or by bike. Numerous trails are scattered across the nearly 7800 square miles of protected land.

When we visited, we saw an abundance of wildlife situated right next to the paved walking paths. This included alligators, cranes, and turtles. Some wildlife experts say that one of the best places to see alligators in the Everglades is The Shark Valley entrance located on U.S. 41 Tamiami Trail in Miami. 

Shark Valley offers paved trails and elevated walking trails too. | Best Places to See Alligators On Your Florida Vacation

During our tour, we saw the most number of alligators near the Shark Valley Everglades entrance. While looking online, you’ll see photos of walkers and bikers on the main trail standing casually next to an alligator—and we had the same experience. Additionally, we saw numerous alligators just by pulling over and looking in the ponds and reservoirs along the route into Shark Valley.

Shark Valley is known to have the most frequent alligator sightings in the Everglades National Park.
Some wildlife experts say that one of the best places to see American alligators in the Everglades is The Shark Valley entrance located on U.S. 41 Tamiami Trail in Miami. 

3. Take an Airboat Ride

Southern Florida is practically known for its guided airboat ride tours. They are an Everglades icon! Airboats became a popular transportation method to get around in Florida’s marshes.

This is because a submerged propeller is not a practical engine in these shallow, grassy waters.  Additionally, it helps view wildlife due to its elevated seating and quick maneuvering. Options include taking a private 4-hour tour from Fort Lauderdale or the adventurous will enjoy the 1-Hour Airboat Night Tour.

An aerial view of the airboat waterway trails outside the Everglades National Park.

4. Visit Everglades Holiday Park

Just outside Fort Lauderdale, the Everglades Holiday Park is a theme park and wildlife preserve that features daily alligator shows. The park became popular from the hit TV show, “Gator Boys” on Animal Planet. As a result, the staff has a passion for educating their visitors about Florida’s gators. Guests enjoy learning about alligators as seen through the eyes of conservationists.

Airboat rides are a great way to see Florida American alligators.

The price includes an airboat tour, an animal encounter/gator show, and two professional family photos. Also, their Everglades Holiday Park airboats feature a larger, covered craft for a smoother ride and more shade from the hot Florida sun. Finally, each tour lasts about one hour. 

An aerial view of the Everglades National Park and the airboat ride trails! | Best Places to See Alligators On Your Florida Vacation

Let’s recap! The best places to see alligators on your Florida vacation are:

  1.  Jungle Queen Island
  2. Everglades National Park
  3. On an airboat ride
  4. Everglades Holiday Park

Have you discovered a great place to see baby alligators? Please let us know in the comment section below.

Get up close and personal with Florida’s alligators. Photo captured at Shark Valley.

Click here to see the best hotels and campgrounds to stay near the Everglades in Florida.

Psst: We have a bunch of other posts about Florida! Therefore, make sure to take a look at them before your trip.

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