This summer my family had the opportunity to spend some time in Miami. Because we are an outdoor-loving family, of course, we had to make sure we took the kids to the Everglades. Hiking, camping and exploring state parks are fun and educational activities that we all love. Since we happen to have some pretty great friends who live in the area we were able to explore all the best parts of Miami with the help of a local and the Shark Valley Tram Tours did not disappoint!
Activities like those provided by the Shark Valley Tram Tours are goldmines for families like ours. We get to spend time outdoors, our kids learn valuable facts about our natural world and it doesn’t break the bank in quite the same manner as theme parks and other touristy attractions tend to do! If you’re in the Miami area and looking for something fun to do I highly suggest giving this a try!
Shark Valley Tram Tours, Exploring the Everglades
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Shark Valley Tram Tours in a Nutshell
Shark Valley is a part of the Everglades National Park which is open from 8:30 am to 6 pm daily. Entrance to the park is $30 per car and good for 7 days at any Everglades park entrance which makes it a pretty great deal if you plan on visiting various locations. Tickets for the tram tours themselves are sold separately and priced at
- Adults (13-61) $25.00
- Seniors (62+) $19.00
- Children (3-12) $12.75
While this can certainly add up if you have a large family I still consider this a pretty budget-friendly activity if you compare it to other popular tourist activities. However, if you still find this a bit pricy you might consider renting a bike and going on a self-guided tour! The bike rentals are priced at only $9 an hour and we saw many people taking advantage of the nice flat trails while we were there!
Since it was the middle of summer when we visited and quite hot out we opted to take the tram tour. Tram tours depart at regular times throughout the day and are based on the time of year you visit – you can see the full schedule here.
Each tour is about 2 hours long with a stop halfway through where you can use a restroom and explore the observation tower.
Tips For Your Enjoyment
Bring your own sunscreen!
While there is a gift shop at the park the price of sunscreen is a bit high. It’s like buying a soda at a theme park – and we all know how that goes! That said if you do forget to bring your own – buy it anyways. The Flordia sun is no joke and the Everglades do not provide much in terms of shade.
Bring Your Own Drinks
While there are vending machines located at the gift shop, and the prices are not bad the selection might be a bit slim. If you have picky kids bring a book or tote bag and have your own handy. This might be problematic if you plan on taking a bike tour but on a tram tour, it’s not a problem since you won’t have to carry the bag. Except for at the observation tower – our tour guide warned us that the crows that live there are well versed in opening bags and will steal everything inside looking for food.
Explore a Few Side Trails & Exhibits
Plan your trip so that you have time to check out a few of the smaller walking trails near the tour start. These little loops are not very long but did provide the opportunity to see some wildlife and a different part of the ecosystem!
There are also quite a few informative exhibits set up around the gift shop and tour start. Both of the kids had a lot of fun looking at the various displays while we waited for the tour to start.
Consider Bug Spray
Since we are well aware that most trips to state parks in the south mean dealing with gnats and mosquitoes we made sure to spray ourselves with bug repellant before leaving the parking lot. Strangely enough, there weren’t many bugs on our trip (other than giant grasshoppers, which my youngest loved) but I expect this varies wildly based on time of day and season.
Wear Comfortable Clothing and Shoes
This is not the time to wear fancy clothes and spend time looking pretty! It’s going to be hot and you’re going to sweat! If you spend any extra time exploring the side trails or even just walking up the observation tower then you’ll appreciate comfortable walking shoes and clothing!
What You’ll See Along The Way!
As with all nature tours, the wildlife you see will vary quite a bit, however, we saw a lot and our tour guides were really great at spotting and pointing out the various creatures as we went. You will also learn about the various landmarks, the history of the Everglades and the Ecosystem. Our Tour guide was funny, upbeat and clearly very knowledgable about the area which was great!
The observation tower is a giant structure with a long winding ramp upwards. This is great for people who don’t want to climb a lot of stairs but might be challenging for people (like me) who are afraid of heights! The ramp is wide enough that I was able to stay away from the edges and by standing the middle of the platform enjoy the view for a few moments before heading back down.
I probably could have stayed longer if people had not been roaming close to the railing and pointing at things down below, for some reason that tends to send me into a mild panic so I bailed before I freaked out and made the kids leave with me since it’s perfectly safe and I knew my own phobias are pretty illogical haha!
Overall the wildlife we saw and the information, curiosity that the visit sparked in my kids made it more than a worthwhile adventure!