Driving Tour: Homestead and The Everglades
Heritage Highlights and Culture Quest
Head west of Miami on Tamiami Trail (Highway 41) to sample native culture at Miccosukee Indian Village, 30 minutes west of the Florida Turnpike. Here, the natives cook up the fry bread and alligator tail of long-held traditions and engage in the art of woodwork, beadwork, patchwork, basket weaving and doll-making. Take an airboat tour to the 'gator outback and their hunting camps. Call (877) 242-6464.
In Homestead, capital of tropical exotic crops, you can taste what it's all about in Redland, the historic farm community (take I-95 until it ends after Brickell and becomes U.S. 1, which takes you to the area); and at Fruit and Spice Park, 24801 S.W. 187th Ave. For the yummiest taste, stop at Robert Is Here produce stand, 19200 S.W. 344th St., where the specialty is tropical fruit ice cream shakes.
You needn't drive far to feel way out of the city. A short jaunt south on Interstate 95 delivers you to Homestead, Miami's tropical breadbasket and gateway to Everglades National Park. At the juncture of Palm Drive and Highway 1, you can turn one way (east) to reach Biscayne Park; the other way (west), and you're headed to the Everglades. At Biscayne National Park, 9700 S.W. 328th St., comprising more than 172,000 acres of which 95 percent lies underwater, you have your choice of kayaking, glass-bottom boat tours, snorkeling, diving, or camping on a castaway island.
En route to the Everglades, stop at Everglades Alligator Farm, 40351 S.W. 192nd Ave., for a 30-minute airboat ride and a visit with 'gators and other resident critters.Call (305) 247-2628. Outside the gates to the Everglades National Park, on State Road 9336, the Ernest Coe Visitor Center introduces you to the creatures, people and habitat of the unique ecosystem. Call (305) 242-7700. A 38-mile road passes the Royal Palm Area, trailheads and observation points on its way to the Flamingo Visitor Center (call 239-695-2945) and Flamingo Marina (call 239-695-3101). Here you can rent a bike or canoe, board a boat tour or join in on an interpretative program. The park is always open; hours at the Visitor Centers vary.