A guide to the 12 best places to see alligators in Florida
Places to see alligators in Florida? Well, it sounds more like a question, but it is not. For seeing wild alligators in Florida, you do not need to search too far.
One of the most famous animals in Florida is the alligator. The alligators are the wild reptiles and predators, which are found almost everywhere in Florida. If you are visiting Florida, the first thing in your mind should be looking for the best places to see alligators in Florida!
There are found in lakes, marshes, suburbs, pools, grasses, and even on the streets sometimes.
These ancient reptiles love warm places and are thus seen sunbathing in the swamps, freshwater lakes, or maybe sometimes on golf courses and in the suburbs and hence are reported by the citizens all the time.
In this article, we are going to learn about places to see alligators in Florida. But before that, let us know a few things about an alligator in brief.
- These creatures are basically of the dinosaur age.
- They prefer a warm climate and are found almost everywhere in South Florida as it is comparatively warmer.
- Their natural habitat is the freshwater habitats, and you can easily distinguish them by their U-shaped faces.
- They mostly do not attack until provoked.
The American alligators, which are around 1.3 million in numbers, can be found in the entire state. A tourist can always see them in confinement or the wild, although both are places to see alligators in Florida. Once there was a threat of extinction of gators in the State, however, strict and immediate conservation efforts helped stop their decline.
The alligators are an essential part of the ecosystem of Florida. They have gator holes, which are the place where they collect food and are sometimes used for sleeping and holding water in the dry season, and these places give shelter to various fish, insects, snakes, turtles, and birds.
If you want to go for the best experience in alligator watching, then make a note to visit in the winter season, mostly because you can catch a sight of the alligators coming out of the cool waters to get the warm sun rays.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission truly cares for the safety of the tourists and recommends they stay at least 60 feet away when observing in the wild.
Well, then we are all set to see the places where alligators in Florida are found. Let us see them one by one as follows-
Best Places to See Alligators in Florida
1. Everglades National Park
Everglades National Park is a World Heritage Site, International Biosphere Reserve, a Wetland of International Importance, and a specially protected area and is the largest tropical wilderness in the United States.
Everglades National Park is mostly associated with freshwater sloughs. A variety of freshwater alligators are attracted here due to the availability of different young birds, fish, and amphibians. Everglades is often known by the nickname “River of Grass.”
2. Shark Valley
The Shark Valley is the entrance to Everglades National Park and is on U.S. 41 Tamiami Trail in Miami, and it is sure of an abundance of alligators.
The closest view one can have of the gators will be on Anhinga Trail at a place called Royal Palm, and one can reach there in about a ten-minute from the Ernest Coe Visitor Center! You can always take tram tours and hire bicycles to ride.
The main entrance is Homestead, leading to the Flaming visitor center and the Ernest Coe Visitor Center. Also, there is Interstate 75 (Alligator Alley) across the state if you move through the Everglades highways. Visitors with sharp eyes can catch a quick glimpse of gator slough swimming along or sunbathe on the banks.
If you are moving to the Florida Keys, then the Everglades Alligator Farm is a great stop for travelers and may want to take an airboat ride and see a wildlife show.
There is a 65-foot observation tower in the shark valley for a bird’s eye view of the meadows. Some prefer to glide over Florida Bay by tour boat for a chance to glimpse a crocodile or alligators.
3. Myakka River State Park
This park in Sarasota County is a great point to spot-watching gators when it comes to places to see alligators in Florida. The best interest is a five-mile round trip hike to a sinkhole known as the Deep Hole located by the brink of the river where dozens of alligators can be seen.
The number of daily permits issued is limited to this wilderness area, and you are suggested to pick a suitable day with little wind. Otherwise, when it’s windy, Gators tend to hide.
Myakka River State Park, located just off I-75, is a perfect destination to see alligators in Florida. A trip to view alligators in this 37,000-acre park is one of the fun activities to do in Sarasota.
Alligator sightings are possible year-round in all bodies of water in the park. Still, before visiting the park, you are advised to listen to the park rangers, as in most cases, they would suggest you visit in early spring to give your best shot in watching the wild alligators.
One of the easiest ways to see alligators is to visit in late March as it is their mating season. Alligators tend to spend more time in the water in the hottest months of the country. They mostly lie on the bottom of rivers and lakes to escape the warmth.
4. Alligator Theme Parks
Alligator Discovery Center in southwest Florida is a popular stop for kids willing to get a closer view of gators.
Another point of interest is the Florida Aquarium in Tampa, where through a glass wall, you can spy on baby gators living above and below the water.
A theme park on 29 acres near Fort Lauderdale is home to Animal Planet’s “Gator Boys” TV show and features daily gator shows.
5. Lake Kissimmee Park
Lake Kissimmee state park is just south of Orlando and is the third-largest lake and the third largest park in Florida and is also one of the places to see alligators in Florida. Lake Kissimmee State Park is the perfect place for viewing all kinds of wildlife, not just alligators.
From the park’s nature trails, you can see bald eagles, ospreys, bobcats, and a few gators in the lush park.
Kissimmee Park is also a great place for campers, paddlers, and birders to witness raw wilderness of Florida.
There are over six miles of trails available to equestrians, especially those who don’t want to get their toes wet. Florida has somewhat 30,000 wet holes, and surprisingly, each one is home to gators.
According to Florida Fish and Wildlife, Lake George nestled near the St. Johns River in northwest Florida is home to the most wet holes in Florida and has over 2,300 alligators.
6. Lake Jessup
With an average of 12,925 alligators per year, Lake Jessup in Central Florida is one of the biggest homes of wild alligators and one of the good places to see alligators in Florida.
Lake Jessup is ideal for alligators because the grounds are mostly loaded with mudfish, shad, and turtles, which are all perfect for prey of gators. After Lake Okeechobee, the maximum number of alligators in Florida are found here.
Lake Jessup spreads over 16,000 acres is a popular tourist attraction with brewing companies and sunflower parks. For those curious about seeing the biggest gators in Florida, you may start to find them here.
7. St. John’s River
The St. John’s River is the longest in the state of Florida. The freshwater of this river is the home of the alligators and hence comes under places to see alligators in Florida.
It is very commonplace for tourists and people from around the world to visit to see the alligators. The easiest place to spot many gators together is the Black Creek tributary in Clay County. Compared to other parts, the alligator density here is very high in the radius of the river.
Everyone is advised to enjoy seeing the gators from the safe distance of the hiking trails or on an airboat tour and take proper caution. Also, another important thing is never to approach or try to feed alligators if you encounter them!
8. Audobon’s Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary
The Audubon Corkscrew Sanctuary is situated in Naples, east of Bonita springs. It is in the heart of Everglades city amidst flora and fauna and protects the wetlands and the creatures that call these lands home.
The swampy grounds are home to different kinds of white-tailed deer, otters, rabbits, and numerous alligators and are one of the great places to see alligators in Florida.
You can enjoy Audobon’s by hiking through the 2.5mile boardwalk that passes through pine woods and finally leads to the Cypress forest.
As you move through marshes and wild swamps, you can find alligators peeking through the water.
9. Circle B Bar Reserve
It is a beautiful wildlife sanctuary spanning over 1,267 acres. This is one of the perfect places to view alligators in Florida.
The Circle B Bar Reserve houses an array of wildlife in different ecosystems. Alligators can be seen in Lake Hancock at the center of the reserve, basking in the sun or floating in the water!
Tourists prefer to walk on the Mark Rabbit Run Trail to see more alligators and maybe some families of otters playing in the water.
10. Naples Zoo
Naples Zoo, which is found at beautiful Caribbean Gardens, is found off of Goodlette-Frank Road. Around Alligator Bay which many tropical plants surround, is a nice place to see alligators bathing and swimming.
11. Smugglers Cove Adventure Golf
It is found in the gorgeous Fort Myers Beach. This place is great for anyone to take their kids to a golf game and have a chance to see alligators. Right in the middle of the beach is the spot that contains a bunch of young alligators and is considered one of the great places to see alligators in Florida.
Fort Myers Beach is a great place for adults and kids alike to learn about alligators along with their habits. The gators are fed here using fishing poles made of bamboo. If you are looking for places to see alligators in Florida, then this is your spot.
People at Smugglers cove adventure golf play a game or something called putt-putt, which is more of a reptile experience. Here baby gators in large ponds are a big attraction located in only a few locations in southwest Florida.
The “only in Florida” label can be given to the miniature golf here in which many golfers feed the alligators.
12. Big Cypress National Preserve
Alligators are very commonly found on the boardwalks here, which takes around five minutes, and one can easily walk across these boardwalks.
There are also two visitors’ areas in the big cypress national preserve that you can stop by on each of the preserve’s sides to get some general wildlife information.
When you are looking for places to see alligators, you can find plenty of places to go. All you need to do is go and explore these amazing fun places, and you can always learn a lot about alligators.
There are places for all ages to see them and enjoy the view. One may head towards the golf course to play miniature golf or go to the everglades or Naples to see these creatures. Just take your kids or maybe your college group of friends and visit one of these places to see alligators in Florida.
You may not want to leave Florida without experiencing an alligator in its natural habitat or captivity. Therefore do look at the places to see alligators in Florida.