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Swamped in wild South Florida

<p>Miami still has a bit of that sin city reputation, especially when it comes to all those clubs in ultra-trendy South Beach, not to mention those bronzed bodies on topless beaches.</p>

Miami still has a bit of that sin city reputation, especially when it comes to all those clubs in ultra-trendy South Beach, not to mention those bronzed bodies on topless beaches.


It’s where the beautiful people go to see and be seen. With all that to digest, it’s kind of hard to wrap your head around the fact that just a half hour away lies a million-and-a-half acres of swamps and subtropical vegetation.


After a few nights of site-seeing and club-hopping, I decided to check out those treacherous Everglades — and found myself in another world. A wild and barren world.


For a mere $45, Loxahatchee Everglades Tours took me on a very cool, very fast tour of the mysterious swamps. It really is like being on a movie set (or a Disney safari ride) when you’re whipping through the Everglades.


Not long after we took off, I spotted an eight-foot alligator basking in the sun on a muddy patch of land. Suddenly, this massive creature snapped open his huge life-threatening jaws, baring his menacing teeth just a few feet in front of us.


Luckily, it turns out this bored gator was only yawning, perhaps mildly annoyed we were interrupting his power tanning. Maybe not quite life-threatening, but pretty darn memorable regardless.


The sheer amount of wildlife in the Everglades ecosystem is nothing less than impressive. On a good day you can see gators, turtles, wild manatees and maybe even endangered Florida Panthers, and I ain't talking about NHL players.



What to do:



  • Visit the Miami Metro Zoo. There are zoos, and then there is MetroZoo, which is considered one of the best in the U.S. This cageless zoo features rare animals such as black rhinos, white tigers and Komodo dragons. Climb the giraffe feeding station to get up close and personal with one of these long-necked giants — for those who aren’t offended by having a giraffe tongue wrapped around their head, that is.

  • Behold the Coral Castle. A unique engineering marvel made of 1,100 tons of carved coral rock, it took one man nearly 30 years to build this incredible structure. Located between Miami and the Florida Keys, it’s well worth the trip.

 
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