It was 16 years ago when Eduardo de Queiroz first stepped into the pristine Florida sand, breathing the salty air and marveling at the azure sea. The Brazil native spent years exploring the amusement parks of Orlando, the sunny shorelines of Miami Beach, and the Cuban restaurants in Little Havana, falling in love with the peninsula in the process. Today, Eduardo puts his passion and knowledge of South Florida to good use with his own tour company—Amazonia Tours Miami. The seasoned guide leads tours all around the Miami area, from airboat cruises through the lush wildlife of the everglades to air-conditioned bus trips around the art deco architecture of South Beach. He brings sightseers to the Jungle Island zoo and Seaquarium, and ventures outside the city to introduce newcomers to Orlando theme parks and Key West beaches. The versatile guide conducts tours in English, Portuguese, or a Dracula voice. In addition to tours, he offers scooter rentals and transportation to the airport and local malls.
Groups of tourists walk past the current dwelling places of some of the area’s notable residents, such as Addison Cairns Mizner, Paul Ilyinsky, and Henry Morrison Flagler. Unlike the case with traditional celebrity-sighting tours, however, all of these men died decades ago. Their spooky hauntings frame the path of Ghosts of Palm Beach’s walking tours, during which knowledgeable guides share local folklore and paranormal encounters. Stops can include everything from Palm Beach Town Hall to high-fashion shops such as Gucci, Chanel, and Saks Fifth Avenue, where the ghosts still try to buy handbags for a dollar and two bits.
Everglades Holiday Park unveils the natural splendor of one of Earth's last undisturbed territories with invigorating airboat tours and interactive alligator presentations. Visitors to the untamed river of grass explore its wetlands and observe its animal residents, and tour guides keep encroaching gators at bay with pointed comments of historic and ecological significance. The powerful airboat fleet features a covered passenger vessel for all-weather observation and an innovative zephyr-harnessing propulsion system that allows boats to swiftly skim across the Everglades' grassy rivers while sneaking up on unsuspecting patches of spanish moss. The park is also home to Animal Planet's Gator Boys; most of the reality show's episodes are filmed here.
The park complements boat tours with 20-minute gator presentations that star a cast of live alligators and shed some light on nature's last remaining dinosaurs. The boat captains are always available for private charters, which can be stocked with food, beverages, and ice at the park's 24-hour general store before heading out for fishing expeditions or leisurely cruises through the glades.
Laced with the sounds of water churned by unseen forces, the thick air that hangs above the Everglades whispers the rhythms of gator country. The murky water—obscured further by curtains of cattails and floating lily pads—defies human incursion, its protective spells demystified only by the airboat captains of Sawgrass Recreation Park, who gamely shuttle laypersons through the swamp in tours by day and night. While gliding across the shallows at speeds of up to 35 miles per hour, guides halt the propellers of their enormous fans to point out wildlife—which include alligators and various waterfowl—and impart nuggets of history from the days when the Seminole and panther once shared their claim over the terrain. As a part of a conservationist group's effort to educate the public about ongoing rescue efforts in the Everglades, the exotic-wildlife exhibit brings guests face to face with the swamp's most majestic rarities, including black leopards and Florida panthers. In the park's reptile exhibit, dozens of scaly creatures count among them a 1,000-pound alligator named Cannibal, and guests can cradle prehistoric cuties in the Hold a Baby Alligator experience. The swamp-yard-animals exhibit encourages guests to meet or catch a glimpse of pigs, bunnies, and ducks, letting guests establish a deeper bond with the denizens of the swamp.
Even with the football game glowing on the 20-plus HD flat screens, you can't help but glance over when a dish emerges from the kitchen at Nicky's Restaurant Sports Bar. The sizzling seafood and juicy steaks give off an enticing aroma that can be a challenge to ignore. Chef Julio Renderos masterminds the full menu, folding fresh ingredients into the seafood specialties and favorites such as fiery wings, ribs, burgers, and tender lobster tails. Meanwhile, friendly bartenders take charge of the lengthy wooden bar, doling out frosty pints of draft beer and premium mixed drinks. Nicky's also offers free WiFi as well as buzztime trivia and Texas hold 'em nights.
Making memories nearly every day of the year, the steady-handed tour guides and pilots of Miami Flight Seeing conduct aerial surveys over more than 80 miles of Key Biscayne, Biscayne Bay, and downtown Miami. While skimming over pristine beaches and emerald-colored waters, sky tourists spot manatees, dolphins, manta rays, and other volleyball enthusiasts below. The high-winged observation craft boasts panoramic windows with virtually no obstruction, affording a clear view of all of the highlights narrated by the pilot on educational ventures. And yet, captains also know when to show restraint in their narrations; namely during the company's romantic sunset tour, which has prompted many an enviable marriage proposal.