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hi there

I am going on holiday with wife and kids in southern Florida this august and of course a visit of the everglades is on the list.

Our itinerary goes like this: 

land in Fort Lauderdale, drive straight to Bonita Springs where we spend 4-5 days

drive from Bonita to Big Pine Key where we spend 4-5 days

then drive from Big Pine to Miami where we will spend 5-6 days

 

I have already looked at guides and learned that you don't just visit one place in the everglades but rather visit several spots which can be quite far apart.

what is your advice ? what are the best spots ? can we do a day trip from Miami or Bonita ? or should we stop on the way and spend the night ?

 

Oh, and we also want a ride on one of these boats with the big propeller on the back, any tips to try and avoid the major touristy airboat agencies ?

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S. Florida in August?

Brutal....................

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It will be kind of nice for you because in August, anyone who can afford to leave Florida has done so.

Of course, there are reasons. Bugs, hurricanes, flooding, biting bugs, closed attractions due to flooding, closed attractions due to hurricanes, more biting bugs, and the overnight lows in the mid 80's. Oh, and the complete lack of breeze to blow the bugs away.

I'd move your visit 6 months.

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yeah I know all that

but that's how it is, long holidays in France = august, and these nice people from Florida wanted to exchange houses with us.

last summer we visited Hong-Kong and Singapore, so I know all about sticky balls and sweaty ass cracks, and we survived !

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12 minutes ago, french do it better said:

yeah I know all that

but that's how it is, long holidays in France = august, and these nice people from Florida wanted to exchange houses with us.

last summer we visited Hong-Kong and Singapore, so I know all about sticky balls and sweaty ass cracks, and we survived !

With friends like that, who needs enemies?

I agree though, I've done the Florida trip in the heat of summer too, it's good, the place is alive. Asia might not have prepared you for the mosquitoes in South Florida though, DEET helps.

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How old are the kids?  The glades can be endless hours of swamp.  You will see plenty when you drive drive alligator alley.  Everglades City (Rod and Gun Club) is small and quirky.  Might arrange an airboat or swamp buggie tour.  A few hours of the 'glades might be all a kid could take.

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6 hours ago, Mrleft8 said:

S. Florida in August?

Brutal....................

This from a man who wears wool when the temps drop below 80.

 

My FIL has the same thin blood.  

He spends most of the year in south florida, and spends as much time as possible in southeast asia.  loves loves loves that hot muggy weather.

Even he has the good sense to fly north mid-july to mid-september.

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40 minutes ago, sailm8 said:

How old are the kids?  The glades can be endless hours of swamp.  You will see plenty when you drive drive alligator alley.  Everglades City (Rod and Gun Club) is small and quirky.  Might arrange an airboat or swamp buggie tour.  A few hours of the 'glades might be all a kid could last until the pythons eat 'em.

feexed

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9 hours ago, french do it better said:

yeah I know all that

but that's how it is, long holidays in France = august, and these nice people from Florida wanted to exchange houses with us.

last summer we visited Hong-Kong and Singapore, so I know all about sticky balls and sweaty ass cracks, and we survived !

Well, OK, you've been warned.

Can't really help you on the airboat question. They're in the tour business, so it's going to be touristy. I'd say try a few different ones. Tourists seem to like them.

The only way I know to get a non-touristy airboat experience is to go next door and ask my neighbor. He's not exactly Chamber of Commerce approved. But he has a nice airboat!

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3 hours ago, Figment said:

This from a man who wears wool when the temps drop below 80.

 

My FIL has the same thin blood.  

He spends most of the year in south florida, and spends as much time as possible in southeast asia.  loves loves loves that hot muggy weather.

Even he has the good sense to fly north mid-july to mid-september.

Sh'up Figgy. Just because you take the top off your jeep as soon as the Maple sap starts flowing, don't mean we're all built like thermonuclear trom walls.

(And yes, I have a wool blanket and a quilt on the bed until the night time temps break 72f..... And then I just put the quilt down at my feet.)

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3 hours ago, sailm8 said:

How old are the kids?  The glades can be endless hours of swamp.  You will see plenty when you drive drive alligator alley.  Everglades City (Rod and Gun Club) is small and quirky.  Might arrange an airboat or swamp buggie tour.  A few hours of the 'glades might be all a kid could take.

Yeah. But I'll bet that those little French kids will love an afternoon of deep sea fishing on the party boat, catch a snapper or a mackerel.

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If you are going to be on Big Pine Key, you absolutely have to go to Mallory Square on Key West for sunset....

Everybody must see that once.....

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1 hour ago, mikewof said:

Yeah. But I'll bet that those little French kids will love an afternoon of deep sea fishing on the party boat, catch a snapper or a mackerel.

They might be a little young for that............

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OK so kids are 7 and 9, and they enjoy fishing as long as it doesn't last more than 30-45 minutes and they catch lots of fish, a bit like me actually.

swamp buggy ? just the name sounds cool, have to check it out

key west, yes, it's on the list

 

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Go to a Waffle House, a Walmart and a bass pro shop

 

your self esteem will be at an all time high

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5 hours ago, USA190520 said:

Go to a Waffle House, a Walmart and a bass pro shop

 

your self esteem will be at an all time high

Bass Pro, definitely. That's one of the most distinctively American places in America. Friggen Gloria Vanderbilt could walk into a Bass Pro shop and want to buy a bunch of camo.

In fact, as old as that gal is, she best get her pert little 93 year old ass to a Bass Pro Shop before she kicks the bucket, the old gal doesn't have much time left.

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If you're driving down the Keys - I'd like to suggest an excursion that I know your kids would love:  There's a gorgeous reef right off Key Largo's John Pennekamp State Park.  The park has a sailing catamaran and a larger "head boat" to take folks out to the reef for snorkeling.  They will rent all the equipment (you can bring your own if you have it), and it's only about a mile or so offshore.  
http://pennekamppark.com/snorkeling-tours/

 

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15 hours ago, Mrleft8 said:

Sh'up Figgy. Just because you take the top off your jeep as soon as the Maple sap starts flowing, don't mean we're all built like thermonuclear trom walls.

I did miss the jeep this morning.  just a little bit of cloudcover, 65 degrees, dry and breezy.

perfect jeep weather.

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7 hours ago, french do it better said:

OK so kids are 7 and 9, and they enjoy fishing as long as it doesn't last more than 30-45 minutes and they catch lots of fish, a bit like me actually.

swamp buggy ? just the name sounds cool, have to check it out

key west, yes, it's on the list

 

There are two flavors of swamp machine: those with enormous tires and those with tank treads. My neighbor has both. The one with treads is called a Swamp Track, to distinguish it from the Swamp Buggy.

He told me it will go 70 mph over the swamp grass. I didn't know him well at the time and didn't believe him. Then I got a ride. It will. Then the local authorities heard what we were doing. Now we don't do that any more. At least, not here...

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3 hours ago, mikewof said:

Bass Pro, definitely. That's one of the most distinctively American places in America. Friggen Gloria Vanderbilt could walk into a Bass Pro shop and want to buy a bunch of camo.

In fact, as old as that gal is, she best get her pert little 93 year old ass to a Bass Pro Shop before she kicks the bucket, the old gal doesn't have much time left.

If you are going to stop in a Bass Pro shop hit the one in Islamorada. The Zane Gary bar makes a nice cocktail and the Pilar is in the showroom (the sister ship to Hemingway's motor yacht).

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18 hours ago, madohe said:

If you are going to be on Big Pine Key, you absolutely have to go to Mallory Square on Key West for sunset....

Everybody must see that once.....

I've done that. IT was fun. Once is probably enough. 

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Snorkeling Looe Key out of Bahia Honda is really good. The reef there is much better than the normal Pennekamp head boat. 

 

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57 minutes ago, MisterMoon said:

Snorkeling Looe Key out of Bahia Honda is really good. The reef there is much better than the normal Pennekamp head boat. 

 

Better than Pennekamp?  It must be truly awesome.  I'll have to look at that.   I went out on the catamaran the times I've gone outta Pennekamp - much less crowded than when the headboat was tied up. 

 

 

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22 hours ago, Mrleft8 said:

Sh'up Figgy. Just because you take the top off your jeep as soon as the Maple sap starts flowing, don't mean we're all built like thermonuclear trom walls.

(And yes, I have a wool blanket and a quilt on the bed until the night time temps break 72f..... And then I just put the quilt down at my feet.)

Holy Crap!!  I thought I was the biggest woosy that hates the cold!  No wonder you fled New England!  If we can ever retire enough take some time off, we will leave to visit our daughters in Charleston,SC, in early December after Fall Frostbite Series ends, then to Liquordale for mid January - mid February, then Charleston again, until Spring Frostbite begins again in March.  That's the goal anyway. Or might just spend it all in Chucktown, since Missus BB detests South Florida.

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2 hours ago, A guy in the Chesapeake said:

Better than Pennekamp?  It must be truly awesome.  I'll have to look at that.   I went out on the catamaran the times I've gone outta Pennekamp - much less crowded than when the headboat was tied up. 

 

 

We've done both and like Looe Key much better. 

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6 hours ago, Son of a Sailor said:

If you are going to stop in a Bass Pro shop hit the one in Islamorada. The Zane Gary bar makes a nice cocktail and the Pilar is in the showroom (the sister ship to Hemingway's motor yacht).

The pilar is in Cuba next to Hemingway's house 

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13 hours ago, USA190520 said:

The pilar is in Cuba next to Hemingway's house 

Yes and The Pilar's sister ship (also named Pilar and with the original Wheeler name lettering) is on display in the show room in Islamorada.

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Good Lunch spot or happy hour - Sparky's  (great happy hour - feed the tarpon your shrimp shells)

No Name Key - See the "Key Deer"  they are full grown but look like babies

No Name Key - No Name Pub  (pretty good pizza)

Only a few good beaches in the keys (Sombrero Beach in Marathon)

Fishing will be a challenge since the water temp gets to warm and the fish go deep or out off shore

Take an air boat ride in the everglades -  a couple of spots off the Tamiami Trail (Route 41) are really good places

There is an alligator farm in Florida City by the Everglades National Park if you want to do more than ride on an Air Boat 

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thanks for all the ideas so far.

I also started investigating to have a pair of inflatable SUP's during the duration of our stay and the long term rental solutions I found cost the same as a cheap China inflatable SUPs cost on ebay.

where can I go to directly buy a cheap inflatable SUP when we reach Florida, Walmart ? this is not for surfing, just messing around

and then, what is the easiest way to sell them back for a bargain when we leave, craigslist ?

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If the cost is the same why mess with a cheap Chinese piece of shit you then have to unload? Odds are you will only SUP a few times and could rent one each time you go out.

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You can probably find one on Amazon and arrange to have it shipped to your hotel. I'm seeing them for $200-300 each including pump and paddles. Craigslist is a good way to get rid of them, but you might want so start advertising in the locale you are leaving from about the time your trip starts. Pick a nice person and arrange to meet them right before you leave. Or send them to my daughter! 

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Big Pine is closer to Looe Key than BH is. There is a lot of stuff in the Big Pine area. I know bc I was anchored in its harbor (Newfound Harbor) until yesterday :)

 

Big Pine area:

there are tourist boats to Looe, which is hella good snorkeling.  Also, literally off the east side of the mouth of Newfound Harbor (on your way to Looe) is what is locally called the Potato Patch which is pretty good snorkeling  too. There are Key deer on Long Beach, along the peninsula that encloses the harbor/Coupon Bight. There is a very floofy resort only accessible by water called Little Palm Island and they have a restaurant (The Dining Room) and cool old boat to take you there. The Coupon Bight area is a wildlife preserve. There is a good joint called Kiki's Sandbar, and another called the Looe Key Tiki (where the dive boats are). 

 

So so far this area has been my fave place in the Keys  

http://www.florida-keys-vacation.com/Newfound-Harbor-Keys.html

 

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On the way to the Keys take a short detour to the east entrance of the Everglades Park and take the Anhinga Trail from the Royal Palm Visitor Center. You can usually see wildlife from the boardwalk. +1 Pennekamp although the kids may be young for the snorkeling trip. Rental equipment is available. I've spent the most time around Islamorada. There are Jet Ski Ecotours which are fun. If you visit the Bass Pro Shop be sure to get a fish sandwich at the Islamorada Fish Factory next door. 

Edited by cyclone
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3 minutes ago, cyclone said:

... There are Jet Ski Ecotours which are fun....

Hah! I'm not a jet ski hater, actually a former owner and I see the fun in them, but that's just oxymoronic.

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Those are probably airboat ecotours now. Hey, if the jetski's can get away with it, why not?

(BTW, I like airboats and my neighbor owns one but there are good reasons he got scolded for running it in the swamp behind our homes. They're destructive as hell, much like ATV's, and need to stay on their trails.)

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