May 2017 – We spent three nights in the small town of Everglades City during our tour of the Gulf Coast. It was very convenient to all the places we wanted to visit in and around the Everglades. We stayed at the Ivey House, a bed and breakfast I highly recommend to anyone visiting the area. It was clean, quaint, and comfortable with friendly and efficient staff.
Everglades City is a small place. It has a few choices of restaurants, but they all close fairly early (around 9pm). There was a gas station down the street. It’s a quiet, safe-feeling little place. The mosquitoes are terrible, though!
Our first morning here, we took the Tamiami Trail east, stopping at various points, to Shark Valley. It was about forty five minutes from the inn, and the weather was gorgeous. We had a national park pass so didn’t have to pay an entrance fee (I’ve heard it’s gotten quite high). We had brought our bikes, so after a quick stop in the gift shop we set off to do the fifteen mile loop. This was our second time biking this loop, and we loved it just as much as the first time.
Alligators are numerous here, as are many different species of birds. The trail is wide, flat, and paved, making it an easy bike ride (just be prepared for the heat and humidity – bring water and bug spray). At the halfway point is an observation tower where you can see for miles across the Everglades. If you time it between tram drop offs, you can get the tower to yourself for a few minutes.
We took the short trail through the woods near the tower, and we found several adolescent alligators along the way. Back on our bikes, we continued the loop back to the parking lot where we refilled water bottles before getting back in the car to head back west.
On our way back east on the Tamiami Trail, we drove the Loop Road. This is an old dirt road that is supposed to be a scenic drive. I didn’t find it very scenic; I actually was a bit bored by the time it opened back onto the Tamiami Trail.
One of our stops on the way back was at the Ochopee post office. This is the smallest US post office and is made up of a little one room shed. It was good for a quick stop and a couple of pictures.
There are a few boardwalks located on the Tamiami Trail, and we quickly walked most of them. We did not see much in the way of wildlife, but the plants and trees were interesting.
While in Everglades City, we had dinner at the Oyster House Restaurant one night and Camellia Street Grill another night. Both were just ok. The food was kind of bland and did not taste very fresh at either place. The service left much to be desired at both places.
I recommend staying in Everglades City if exploring the Everglades. I definitely recommend the Ivey House. I would look for food options elsewhere, however.