Miami’s famous South Beach is as much an inviting enclave for families as it is for the joggers and volleyball players who pound its sands. But one of the great joys of southern Florida’s swaggering city is that you can quickly escape its orbit and enter the wilderness.
US Route 41 runs west from the ocean and, within 20 miles, reaches the Everglades – the fabled wetlands where alligators doze at roadsides, crocodiles glide in soupy waters and (elusive) panthers skulk in the shadows. Some of the region is protected as Everglades National Park, and most of it is open to operators who run trips that show off its sharp-toothed reptiles to enthralled children.
Marco Island, 30 miles west of Everglades City, is the point where the focus shifts from snap-jawed beasts to the gentle waves of the Gulf coast. Here, Tigertail Beach Park is a lovely seafront strip where white dunes frame a lagoon, ideal for a quiet afternoon. This could act as a precursor to Naples – an elegant town, 20 miles further north, where the wildlife theme can be extended via a search for dolphins. Pure Naples specialises in "Dolphin Watch" cruises on the Gordon River inlet, where these magical mammals leap, soar and splash.