The Everglades cover a vast area of South Florida. I live part-time on a farm in the swampy wetlands south of the Homestead / Florida City area. Here are 5 places down there that I love, all within a radius of four or so miles:
- Stop by the Robert is Here “fruit stand” on the corner of SW 192nd Ave and West Palm Drive. Its founder, Robert, started 60 years ago, with what was then indeed a roadside fruit stand. Today, it’s a cultural phenomenon, still with a great selection of fruits and milkshakes, a mini zoo in the back, and with Robert still behind the counter, aided by a steadily growing number of family members.
- From Robert is Here, head south just three quarters of a mile on SW 192nd Ave, and stop at the Everglades Outpost at 35601 SW 192nd Ave (be careful to go to the right address, because Google Maps shows another Everglades Outpost further north). Bob Freer is a living legend, with many appearances on National Geographic and CNN. Think of him as the alligator whisperer. He runs this unique wildlife sanctuary. It’s more a labor of love, and certainly nothing like a commercial zoo. Each animal comes with a story, often involving previous owners that got arrested by the FBI or DEA and had to let go of their pet tiger, anaconda, or monkey. Check out the small museum of South Florida history. This is a must-stop.
- Now that you’ve seen the alligators, you can eat them, if you want to. Stay on SW 192nd Ave, and head down South another two thirds of a mile and stop at the Gator Grill. Sal, the owner, took over this operation just recently, and he runs a clean, tasty and friendly grill. Even if you don’t want to eat the alligator meat (which tastes somewhat like chicken), try out some of the other goods, like the Philly Cheese Steak sandwich.
- All right, now that you’re nice and filled, keep heading down South on the same SW 192nd Ave. for another two and a half or so miles, until you arrive at the Alligator Farm (you’ll pass the Miami Dade Correctional Facility to your left). Here, you cannot only watch shows with alligators and snakes, but also tour the surrounding swamps on airboats.
- Lastly, you may also want to check out the actual Everglades National Park, whose Ernest Coe Visitor Center is just 3.4 miles from the Alligator Farm. You may also want to go another 4 miles from the center to check out the Anhinga Trail.