Everglades, Florida

The Everglades is one of the largest wetlands and the only ecosystem of its kind anywhere in the world. It is often referred to as the "River of Grass" because of the sheet of fresh water that rolls gently through the lowlands and saw grass, causing it to resemble green waves. 300 varieties of birds and butterflies, plus black bears, bobcats, panthers, raccoons and Florida's state reptile, the American alligator call this area their home. Hundreds of years ago, the Everglades were three million acres in size, covering nearly a third of the state of Florida. In the early 1900's settlers drained much of the area to build homes and for their own personal use. Conservation efforts that began in the 1920's helped to establish the area as a national park, and continued efforts help to diminish the effects of development throughout the last 100 years. The area is so much more than an uninhabitable swamp, like many people tend to think. It is a great area for families or nature lovers in general to explore and experience one of the most unique ecosystems in the world. Your vacation accommodations are numerous and you can structure your vacation around the Everglades, or make them one part of your entire southwest Florida getaway. You can rent a vacation condo or home, or stay in a resort in Naples, just a short drive from the Everglades attractions. You can also stay on Marco Island, enjoying the beachfront atmosphere while again only a short distance from the national park and other Everglades sites. Or if you are a little more adventurous, why not try a cabin right in the middle of it all? Enjoy canoeing and kayaking, nature hikes, exciting swamp buggy and airboat rides (remember the television show "gentle Ben"?) and the brilliance of nature at it's best in the Everglades.