If you look on the map of Southern Florida, you’ll be amazed as to how large the Everglades really are. It’s been a long dream of mine to visit the park and really sink my teeth into all it has to offer. However, with a two year old, I’ll be missing out on all the fun tours such as the Swamp Buggy or Airboat tours since they don’t permit kids under four. (Our future trip for sure!) You can also visit the Everglades with your family if you book cheap flights to Florida on Expedia
In the meanwhile, I found that Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge (or better known as the Northern Everglades) was close to my where we spend our time with my parents. And after speaking several times with Steve Horowitz and I realized this would be a perfect introduction for my family.
What To Do at the Wildlife Reserve:
1. Visitors Center – when you first arrive, you will come through the visitors center. This is a great place to start. The majority of the people that work or help out at this park are volunteers so they actually want to be here and are super helpful with any questions you have for them.
The center has fun interactive exhibits for adults and kids to learn more about the area. The most important things you’ll get out of walking around the center/museum/educational facility are:
- Types of wildlife you can find
- Conservation efforts and management activities
- Take a virtual Airboat tour (good for two year olds)
- And tons more…
2. Cypress Swamp Trail / Boadwalk - this is the closest trail to the visitors center and is less than one mile on a well done wooden path through the swamp area.
You can also take a FREE tour that is scheduled periodically throughout the day to really learn more about the place. We opted out of the tour, since our kids would probably be too restless. But really enjoyed the walk.
3. Wildlife – as with any national park or wildlife refuge it’s teeming with wildlife. There may not be tons of mammals to see, but you’ll get your share of birds.
And if you’re really lucky – as we were – you can see a full grown gator almost at touching distance. Needless to say, this was by far the highlight our trip! We saw a six-foot gator along one of the paths, chilling out and enjoying the sunny day.
4. Walking and exploring – The park is full of trails and roads that are super easy to navigate, are flat and stroller/ wheelchair friendly. You can get closer to the swamps and waterways to truly breathe in the refuge’s energy.
5. Water fun – The refuge is also famous for the Canoe Trail where you can either bring your own or rent from the refuge. From what we saw it looked like tons of fun. But with a baby it would’ve been a bit difficult for us, although my eight year old was desperate to go. We promised to come back once our youngest is a bit older.
My Take On It:
I’ve never been to a swamp area. And was truly impressed how healthy and alive it was. My kids, to my amazement, really had fun as well. My baby cried so hard when it was time to leave that we ended up staying for another two hours.
One thing I would recommend is to come with older kids. Even though we did the trails, we would’ve probably got a better idea of what the park has to offer by doing the different boat options. But that’s why we are definitely planning on returning again!
Important Info for Loxahatchee, Florida:
Loxahatchee Wildlife Refuge
Hours: Visitor’s Center 9 a.m. to 4 p.m
Refuge grounds are open from sunrise to sunset
Address: 10216 Lee Road, Boynton Beach, FL 33473
Phone: (561) 734-8303
Cost: Automobile $5.00 / Pedestrian $1.00