Written By: Mandy Mizell
As cooler temperatures slowly approach Florida this fall, it is the prime time to visit one of Florida’s greatest natural wonders: The Everglades. The river of grass is one of the most serene locations in our state with diverse wildlife, breathtaking natural spaces and adventure at every mile. Take the Tamiami Trail (US-41) for the scenic route through the heart and soul of Florida’s ecosystems. This daytrip itinerary will bring you to Florida Man status of adventure, you may even get the chance to grab a selfie with an alligator!
Start the Day with a Swamp Walk
If you enjoy hiking, then you will love marsh mucking. I had the pleasure of being invited on a Big Cypress Swamp Walk Tour and met the Florida legend himself, Clyde Butcher. If you’re not familiar Clyde, he is a true InFLOencer with a mission to share the beauty of the swamp through his incredible black and white photography. The tour meets at Clyde’s gallery, where you hike Big Cypress National Preserve for about 2 hours. I suggest catching the earliest tour time at 7:30AM so you can catch the seabirds take their first flight of the day. The earliest tour is optimal for nature photography, as the morning golden hour casts its light on native bromeliads and orchids. Expect to get about waist deep in the cool swamp water, you will be surprised that it is crystal clear when undisturbed. At the completion of your tour, rinse your feet, change your clothes, then take in the artwork of Clyde Butcher and resident photographers at the gallery. It is a great spot to purchase local art or grab some authentic souvenirs made in Florida.
Details: Big Cypress Gallery located at 52388 Tamiami Trail E, Ochopee, FL 34141; Tours offered 7 days per week October-March, minimum tour 2 people at $125 per person.
Lunch while the Airboats Launch
Camellia Street Grill is on my “cannot miss list” in the Glades because both the grub and vibe are sublimely swampy. It is a rustic, waterfront eatery adorned with Florida kitsch such as brilliantly colored buoys, a busted VW bug and an aqua airstream in the courtyard. Their fare colors outside of the lines of your typical southern fried food. They have gator tacos, shrimp and grits and “Finger Lickin’ Good” wings slathered in their signature “Bay Sauce.” October 15 marks the start of stone crab season and this is a great joint for fresh claws. Relax and enjoy the seabreeze, crack open a bottle of Florida brew and watch the airboats as they launch on the Barron River.
Details: Camellia Street Grill located at 202 Camellia St W, Everglades City, FL 34139; Open 11AM-9PM W-M, Closed on Tuesdays.
Send a Postcard from the Smallest Post Office
Ochopee in the Everglades is home to the Smallest Post Office in the United States. This classic roadside stop exists because the original Ochopee P.O. went up in flames in 1953 from a cigarette fire. Postal staff turned to a shed that held irrigation equipment for a local tomato farm to serve as a temporary location for the postal operations. Over 60 years later, it is still operating to serve three counties out of this tiny structure. If you visit during hours, there is a stack of Ochopee post cards on the counter to send swamp-love to a friend back home. No sweat if you don’t make it while it is open, just snap a picture in front of it and make a postcard of your own.
Details: USPS located at 38000 Tamiami Trail E, Ochopee, FL 34141; 8AM-10AM & 12PM-4PM M-F, 8AM-11:30 Saturday, Closed Sunday
To see more Everglades destinations, visit The Ultimate Guide to the Glades on TheFlohemian.com.