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Natural Wonders of Florida’s Great National and State Parks

Program Number: 20447RJ
Start and End Dates:
4/12/2013 - 4/19/2013; 1/23/2015 - 1/30/2015; 1/30/2015 - 2/6/2015; 3/27/2015 - 4/3/2015;
Duration: 7 nights
Location: Everglades National Park, Florida
Price starting at: $1,599.00 - Price may vary based on date, departure city
Program Type: On the Road; National Parks
Meals: 19; 7 Breakfasts, 6 Lunches, 6 Dinners    
Meal Options: Vegetarian    

The subtropical wonders of South Florida amazed early visitors and naturalists, and today this patchwork of interconnected ecosystems remains one of the world’s most awe-inspiring landscapes. Explore the Fakahatchee Strand — the “Amazon of North America” — and participate in a wet hike in the Big Cypress. Enjoy a lecture about the restoration and wildlife recovery efforts that provide hope for the future.




Highlights

• Discover the story of the early pioneers of Southwest Florida’s “Last Frontier” at the Museum of the Everglades and the historic Smallwood Store.
• Explore the Audubon Society’s Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary, gateway to the Great Florida Birding Trail.
• Ride on a glass-bottom boat through John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park.



Activity Particulars

Walking on well-kept trails; some stairs. Participants will also take part in a wet hike.




Date Specific Information

4-12-2013, 1-23-2015, 1-30-2015, 3-27-2015

Enjoy the latest in hearing technology — listening devices — on this date.



Itinerary Summary

Arrival Miami Int'l Airport, coach to Everglades City, 3 nights; coach to Florida City, 4 nights; coach to Miami, departure.



Coordinated by Road Scholar.




Everglades City

Located on Florida’s southwest coast, Everglades City is the gateway to the Ten Thousand Island National Wildlife Refuge and Everglades National Park. Once a sleepy farming community growing sugarcane and bananas, Everglades City has been welcoming those who wish to explore the incredible wetland and coastal environments surrounding it for decades.



Miccosukee Island

Only able to be accessed by airboat, Miccosukee Island is the Everglades home to alligators, Great Blue Herons, Egrets, Woodstorks and Ibis. The island’s Seminole and Miccosukee history is rich and storied because families lived in harmony for generations despite what was considered by many to be unlivable landscape.



Florida

Florida City is situated at the eastern end of the only road that traverses Everglades National Park and is the last mainland community north of the Florida Keys. A popular stop for travelers en route to the Everglades or Key West, the city has a small but charming historic district.



Everglades National Park

The largest subtropical wilderness in the U.S. boasts rare and endangered species, such as the American crocodile, Florida panther and West Indian manatee. It has been designated an International Biosphere Reserve, a World Heritage Site and a Wetland of International Importance, in recognition of its significance to all the people of the world.



Accommodations
Charming Inn with swimming pool. Newly renovated, modern hotel with outdoor swimming pool.
Meals and Lodgings
   Captain's Lodge and Villas
  Everglades City, FL 3 nights
   Miccosukee Resort and Gaming
  Miami 1 night
   Best Western "Gateway to the Keys"
  Florida City, FL 3 nights
 Captain's Lodge and Villas
Type: Lodge
  Description: We are a small family run lodge located in the heart of the Everglades National Park. The lodge was originally built in the early 70's to accommodate the avid fisherman and the new wave of ECO Tours. We can offer a small reception area, chickee hut with bbq pit, and plenty of free parking.
  Contact info: 102 East Broadway
Everglade city, FL 34139 USA
phone: 239-695-4211
web: www.captainstablehotel.com/
  Room amenities: All accommodations have private baths and air conditioning.
  Facility amenities: Waterfront pool
  Smoking allowed: No
  Check in time: 3:00 PM

 Miccosukee Resort and Gaming
Type: Resort
  Description: Along the southeastern edge of the beautiful Florida Everglades, is the Miccosukee Resort & Gaming. The Property is comprised of 302 guest rooms and luxurious suites, which are custom designed to create a comfortable and delightful guest experience.Guests can select from a choice of five dining options or simply relax at our Cypress Lounge and enjoy live entertainment.
  Contact info: 500 S.W. 177th Avenue
Miami, FL 33194 USA
phone: 877-242-6464
web: www.miccosukeeresort.com
  Room amenities: All guest rooms are equipped with wireless internet access, telephone, voice mail, modem, 27" remote control television, premium cable programming, pay-per-view movies, PlayStation games, mini-bar, coffeemaker, hair dryer, iron & ironing board, robe & slippers, bath scale and an in-room safe. Guest Services include wheelchair access, 24-hour room service, 24-hour dry cleaning and laundry services, 24-hour front desk services and shuttle bus services.
  Smoking allowed: No
  Elevators available: Yes

 Best Western "Gateway to the Keys"
Type: Hotel
  Description: Stay at this newly renovated, 100% non-smoking Florida City, Florida hotel located adjacent to Homestead and close to attractions such as the Everglades National Park, the Florida Keys and Biscayne National Park. This Southern Florida area hotel features well-appointed guest rooms and suites, each equipped with cable satellite television and free high-speed Internet access. Hotel guests will enjoy an array of amenities , an outdoor swimming pool and hot tub
  Contact info: 411 S Krome Avenue
Florida City, FL 33034-4913 USA
phone: 305-246-5100
web: bestwesternflorida.com/hotels/best-western-gateway-to-the-keys
  Room amenities: Cable satellite television....Free local calls under 30 minutes....Microwave...Refrigerator....High-speed Internet access hard wired in every room.....Air-conditioning
  Smoking allowed: No
  Additional nights after: Discount based on availability Call Best Western directly (305) 246-5100 Mon through Fri 9-5 EST. Ask for Sonia Shelton and mention “Road Scholar” to make the reservations. Based on Availability.
  Check out time: 12:00 PM


Travel Details
  Start of Program:
3:00 pm You will be staying at Captain's Lodge and Villas that night.
  End of Program:
10:00 am You will be staying at Best Western "Gateway to the Keys" the night before.
  Required documents:
The Road Scholar Health & Safety Form is required. Shuttle information form
  Parking availability:
Start and End at Different Locations
Transportation
To Start of Program
  Location:  Everglades City, FL
  From End of Program
  Location:  Florida City, FL
Travel Details
 

Miami Int'l Airport to Captain's Lodge

 

From Airport

 
 

Service:

 

Commercial Van/Shuttle
phone: 617-521-5373
Advanced Reservations Required

 

Per Person/One Way:

 

Complimentary
Prices are subject to change.

 

Travel Time:

 

1 hour, 45 minutes 

 

Distance:

 

80 miles

   

Complimentary shuttle available for all participants arriving at Miami International Airport before 2:00 pm only. Please complete the shuttle form in your program materials and return to Road Scholar at least two weeks prior to program start date.

 

From Best Western in Florida City to Miami International Airport

 

To Airport

 
 

Service:

 

Commercial Van/Shuttle
phone: 617-521-5373
Advanced Reservations Required

 

Per Person/One Way:

 

Complimentary
Prices are subject to change.

 

Travel Time:

 

40 mins 

 

Distance:

 

35 miles

   

Complimentary shuttle available for all participants departing Miami Airport no earlier than 1:00 pm on the last day of the program. Please complete the shuttle form in your program materials and return to Road Scholar at least two weeks prior to program start date.

 
Driving Directions
  From Best Western Florida City to Miami International Airport Head north on US-1. Continue onto Fl-874 N. Continue onto Fl-826. Take the exit onto Fl-836 E. Take the FL-953 N exit toward Le Jeune Rd/Coral Gables. Follow NW 21st St to the airport. Distance: approx. 35 miles, travel time approx 45 minutes depending on traffic.
  From Southwest Florida International Airport (Ft Myers) to Captain's Lodge and Villas Head West on Daniels Pkwy. Take I-75 S toward Naples. Take exit 80 onto Fl-29 S. Continue onto County Rd 29. Turn right onto Begonia St. At traffic circle take the 1st exit onto W Broadway. Distance approx 80 miles, travel time approx. 1hour and 35 minutes depending on traffic
  from Miami International Airport to Captain's Lodge and Villas West on Fl-836/Dolphin Expressway. Follow signs for Florida Turnpike S. Follow US-41/Tamiami Trail/8th St. Turn left onto County Rd 29. Turn right onto Begonia St. At traffic circle take the 1st exit onto W Broadway. Distance approx. 80 miles, travel time approx. 1 hour and 45 minutes depending on traffic
The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.


Daily Schedule

Day 1: Hospitality and Orientation
(Friday, April 12)
   
 Afternoon: Check in to Hotel and Orientation
 Dinner: At Hotel
   
Accommodations: Captain's Lodge and Villas
Meals Included: Dinner

Day 2: Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary & the Fakahatchee
(Saturday, April 13)
   
 Breakfast: At Hotel
 Morning: Field trip with lecture to Audubon's Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary: The Audubon Society's Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary is this morning’s destination. This ecological gem features a two-mile boardwalk which traverses pine flatwoods, wet prairie, Pond cypress, old growth Bald cypress, and marsh ecosystems. The sanctuary is an important breeding area for the endangered Wood Stork, and other wetland birds, and has good numbers of wintering passerines, including the Painted Bunting. Numerous wading bird species can be found in the wetlands of the sanctuary, including the Yellow-crowned Night Heron, Black-crowned Night Heron, Tricolored Heron, Great Egret, and Snowy Egret. Specialist birds include Limpkin, Barred Owl and, in summer, Swallow-tailed Kite. As such, it has been designated as a 'gateway site' for the Great Florida Birding Trail. American Alligators and Cottonmouth snakes, are also prevalent here.
 Lunch: At Restaurant/Picnic
 Afternoon: Fakahatchee Strand State Preserve, Big Bend Boardwalk: With its dense, enveloping tropical foliage, the Fakahatchee more closely resembles Jurassic Park than a South Florida ecosystem. This beautiful, remote road offers an excellent opportunity for viewing Florida’s flora and fauna in its wildest display.
 Dinner: At Hotel
   
Accommodations: Captain's Lodge and Villas
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 3: Characters, Pioneers and 10,000 Islands
(Sunday, April 14)
   
 Breakfast: At Hotel
 Morning: Lecture: Characters and Pioneers of the Everglades Field Trip into the 10,000 Islands: As we wind through these islands, we will watch for dolphins, manatees, wading birds, and raptors. Slipping down Smuggler's Creek, we may find one of the elusive American Crocodiles that inhabit these waters. A special treat would be to see some of the rare Roseate Spoonbills that feed in the shallows. Oftentimes mistaken for flamingos, these brilliantly pink-feathered birds have started a remarkable recovery in this area. The 10,000 Islands have been witness to powerful Indian nations, Spanish shipwrecks, pirates and murderous outlaws. "Bloody" Ed Watson still haunts these backwaters in the long tales of pioneer fishing families. Still considered the wildest, most unknown place in America, the 10,000 Islands is a good example of time uninterrupted.
 Lunch: At local restaurant
 Afternoon: Visit to Clyde Butcher's Big Cypress Gallery and explore the Big Cypress on a Wet or Dry Hike Today, one of the most unexpected and daring journeys in Florida is accessible when we travel the Everglades? wild backwaters with our trained naturalist guide. This is a day of discovery and exploration in one of the world?s most threatened and beautiful wild places ? The Florida Everglades and Big Cypress Preserve. First, stroll through the black and white gallery of world-renowned photographer Clyde Butcher whose pictures will awaken a true sense of understanding and respect for South Florida?s natural beauty. Then, you will have a choice to join the trek at trail?s head for a wet hike experience for those who are sure-footed or follow a dry trail for those with limited mobility. On either hike, you will discover lush cypress domes as native orchids and bromeliads hang overhead, and learn why conservationists have described this area as "a beautiful, rugged, subtropical landscape?. On this excursion you will see a rare and unusual ecosystem come alive with wonder and beauty on a trip you will never forget.
 Dinner: At Restaurant
   
Accommodations: Captain's Lodge and Villas
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 4: Overlook the Everglades and an Evening with the Miccosukee
(Monday, April 15)
   
 Breakfast: At Hotel
 Morning: Shark Valley Tram to the Observation Tower: Our morning outing will include a two-hour, open air tram tour through the Shark Valley section of Everglades National Park. The park-trained naturalists who offer the interpretation on the trams have a sharp eye for wildlife in motion. Besides giving insight into the ecosystem as a whole, the guides will also help to point out some of the "hidden" aspects which help to make this a world-renowned wetland. The open vehicle will allow you to view wildlife within the sawgrass prairies on either side of the tram. At the half-way point of the tram excursion, a 45 foot high observation deck will give us an opportunity to enjoy the tranquil vistas of the Everglades, extending outward 20 miles in all directions. A gradual ramp provides easy access to the observation tower deck, and every part of the ramp and deck provide chances to view something different.
 Lunch: At a local restaurant
 Afternoon: Free Time followed by Evening Airboat Ride to a Miccosukee Island for Lecture and Sunset: Skip across the shallow waters and sawgrass prairie to a distant Miccosukee island as your Native American guide prepares you for an evening of natural wonders and historical discovery! Watch in wonder as Great Blue Herons, Egrets, Woodstorks and Ibis come home to roost as we travel into the true heart of the Florida Everglades. It is here among the sawgrass prairie that remote cypress islands filled with Seminole and Miccosukee history still exist and it is here that our adventure begins . . . As the sun sets we will walk the islands our guide’s family called home to hear how the Miccosukee families learned to live in harmony for generations in what many considered an unlivable landscape. At the onset of darkness we board our airboat to search the darkness for one of the Everglades’ most famous residents, the Florida Alligator. Peer in amazement as our guide’s searchlight cuts through the night to reveal hundreds of red eyes staring back towards us from the dark waters of the Florida Everglades.
 Dinner: On your on at Hotel
   
Accommodations: Miccosukee Resort and Gaming
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch

Day 5: The Redlands and Biscayne National Park
(Tuesday, April 16)
   
 Breakfast: At Hotel
 Morning: Redlands Tour: In the southernmost reaches of the Florida peninsula, just before the coral rock islands of the Florida Keys make their break for open multi-hued seas, lies a unique locale. At once tropical and rural, it is the growing region of Homestead, Redland and Florida City. The people who settled this region were pioneers in the subtropics. Today we will tell their stories through a series of fascinating visits. Our first destination will usher us into the lush beauty of Cauley Square, a quaint collection of historic cabins surrounding a beautiful Victorian tea house. A large variety of little shops displaying home-made crafts and curiosities complete the scene. Next, off to R.F. Orchids - a third generation orchid growing family whose highly respected operation is one of the best in the South. Here you will find thousands of exotic orchids growing in a hammock-like setting accented with gazebos, ponds, tiki huts and lush landscaping. The orchids are everywhere, with many of the finest on display at the entrance. The nursery is always winning awards for outstanding work in orchid breeding and growing. When you browse through the greenhouses, it?s easy to see why. As we head south, our last stop will land us in historic downtown Homestead. This walkable, restored downtown district reflects the strong rural tradition of the surrounding area. Watch for the distinctive agricultural-inspired area architecture. From cracker cottages to old packinghouses and railroad buildings to churches and school houses, this area still retains the rural flavor that has made it home to generations of farming families.
 Lunch: At Local Restaurant
 Afternoon: Visit Biscayne National Park and Dante Fascell Center: This afternoon, we will travel to the Dante Fascell Visitor Center of Biscayne National Park. Opened in 2002, the center provides gallery space where contemporary artists, inspired by the beauty of the park and South Florida, can show their work. Past shows have included color and black-and-white photography, oil, acrylic, pastel and watercolor paintings, drawings, collage and sculpture. The center is located at Convoy Point, nine miles east of the City of Homestead. A beautiful museum offers a virtual journey through the park's four ecosystems using dioramas, audio and video. In the auditorium, we will view Spectrum of Life, an 11-minute film presentation on the park?s natural wonders.
 Dinner: At Hotel
   
Accommodations: Best Western "Gateway to the Keys"
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 6: Key Largo and America's First Undersea Park
(Wednesday, April 17)
   
 Breakfast: At Hotel
 Morning: Lecture: Reef Relief

After the lecture take a Coral Reef Glass bottom boat excursion in John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park: Hop onboard for a nautical excursion into John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, the only undersea state park in the United States. From the sundeck, on our way out to the reefs, take in the panoramic offshore view of the Florida Keys and the ever-changing hues of the ocean. A spacious glass bottom boat will host us to a view of the exciting, underwater realm of a living reef. Upon reaching the reefs, everyone will want to stand and look through the large viewing windows while hearing of the wonders of Poseidon?s Kingdom. The reef is built of many varieties and species of living coral. It teems with sea fans, sea plumes and hundreds of fish that range from small and colorful beyond-description, to larger species desired by fishermen. As the only fully-intact coral reef in the continental United States, John Pennekamp is a Florida treasure.
 Lunch: At Local Restaurant
 Afternoon: Key Largo Historical Tour: For the afternoon, we are inviting you to step back with us into an era that evokes the spirit of Humphrey Bogart’s “Key Largo”. Our Long Ago Key Largo History Tour explores the Florida Keys of old with stops at the historic Caribbean Club, a dockside view of the original “African Queen” and pieces of local color and authenticity from one end of the island to the other.
 Dinner: At Local Restaurant
 Evening: View a movie about the area.
   
Accommodations: Best Western "Gateway to the Keys"
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 7: Everglades National Park
(Thursday, April 18)
   
 Breakfast: At Hotel
 Morning: Visitors Center, Anhinga Trail Our morning excursion starts off at the Ernest F. Coe Visitor's Center at the Main Entrance of Everglades National Park. The center has a giant diorama with life-size replicated, denizens of the Everglades on the prowl. A comfortable theater offers an informative film on the Everglades. Other exhibits located around the facility are thoroughly researched and very though-provoking. Then we are off to experience a hike at the famous Anhinga Trail at the Royal Palm area of Everglades National Park. Follow the trails and boardwalks to get a close-up view of wild gators, turtles, Roseate Spoonbills and abounding varieties of wading birds and aquatic species. The Anhinga Trail was so beautiful and indicative of the Everglades that a group of women petitioned for its protection as a state park in the early 20th Century. This state park was the genesis of the Everglades National Park established in 1947. (3 hours)
 Lunch: Picnic Lunch
 Afternoon: Missile Site with lecture & Pahoyokee Overlook Decades ago, our next field trip would have been classified top secret but the Cold War is over. Few people realize that Everglades National Park houses one of the best preserved relics of the Cold War in Florida. An historic Nike Hercules Missile Base, dubbed HM-69, remains virtually the same as it was when official use of the site was terminated in 1979. This missile base was built by the United States Army Corps of Engineers, completed in 1964 at the height of the Cold War, immediately following the Cuban Missile Crisis of October, 1962. At a time when national security against Soviet attack was America's main priority, the United States Army chose this strategic site within Everglades National Park, located 160 miles from the Cuban coast, to build an anti-aircraft missile site. This afternoon you will visit and learn about this site with interpretation from a local historian. Before we leave nature?s paradise we take one last peak at Pa-hay-okee Overlook, an elevated observation platform that allows for more dramatic views of the open sawgrass prairies of the southern Everglades. (4 hours)
 Dinner: At Local Restaurant
   
Accommodations: Best Western "Gateway to the Keys"
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 8: Program Wrap-Up
(Friday, April 19)
   
 Breakfast: At Hotel
 Morning: Transfer to Miami International Airport at 10 am
   
Meals Included: Breakfast
Important information about your itinerary: Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and completeness of the information featured on this website. Itineraries are based on our best information at this time. Circumstances beyond our control may require us to adjust itineraries or other details. We regret any inconvenience this may cause and appreciate your understanding. Information will be sent to you from your Program Provider approximately three weeks prior to the program start date. The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.

Suggested Reading List


Everglades National Park


Author: Bobbie Kalman


Florida Magnificent Wilderness: State Lands, Parks, and Natural Areas


Author: James Valentine




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