Located only 30 minutes outside downtown Fort Lauderdale, Sawgrass Recreation Park offers guided airboat rides through the marshy, humid swamp waters of the Florida Everglades. Visitors can spot alligators and other marshland animals, such as pythons, black leopards, and the endangered Florida panther living in the wild.
Take an airboat ride to see wildlife and learn about the area’s ecosystem, then visit the park’s exhibits: The Reptile Exhibit boasts dozen species (native and exotic) along with Cannibal, a 1,000-pound (454-kilogram) alligator. The Glades Exhibit features a variety of tortoises and iguanas. The Exotic Wildlife Exhibit (scheduled to open in 2020) will include large cats like panthers and caracals. Visitors looking for a unique thrill can also enjoy night time alligator-viewing trips.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Kids 6 and under must wear a lifejacket (which is provided) while onboard the boat; all other guests may also choose to wear a lifejacket if they desire.
- The boats are not wheelchair accessible.
- Airboat tours leave every 30 minutes, and private boat tours are also available.
- Fishing boats and camping spots are available.
- Children age 3 and under enter for free.
How to Get There
Sawgrass Recreation Park is located two miles north of Exit 23, off I-75 on US Route 27. The park is about 30 minutes from the Fort Lauderdale airport and about 45 to 60 minutes from Miami Beach. There is free parking available on site.
When to Get There
Boats leave every 30 minutes from morning through mid-afternoon. Animal exhibits close in the early evening, when the last boat boards. During the summer, it's best to visit in the morning; there can be wind and thunderstorms in the afternoons.
Exploring the Florida Everglades
There are a variety of ways to explore the Everglades. After enjoying an airboat ride, join a tram tour from the Shark Valley Visitor Center, visit the Big Cypress National Preserve, or stroll on the boardwalk through the Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary. Hardcore campers can even spend the night in a chickee, a traditional Seminole or Miccosukee log-frame structure with palm or palmetto thatching.