A bald eagle soars above Florida's everglades, its eyes scanning the creatures below—ranging from an alligator to a soft-shell turtle to a large vessel that seems to glide along the water's surface. This is one of Wild Florida's airboats, which journeys deep into Florida's untouched everglades on daytime and evening tours. A Coast Guard–certified captain controls the machine’s massive fan, which propels sightseers across marshes and down rivers, where they search for the 67 threatened species that call the Everglades' 4,200 acres home. As the airboat rounds a bend, its passengers notice a dark-green mass in the water. An alligator peeks it head above the surface, opens its jaws, and reveals rows of powerful teeth that could make any dentist rev a dental drill in excitement.
At the end of the tour, the captain and passengers unload at Wild Florida's 500-foot dock, but their ecological encounters are far from over. At the onsite wildlife park, visitors can hold baby alligators and whisper sweet nothings into their ear openings. It also showcases exotic African creatures, such as zebras, water buffalo, and emu. After a day of exploration, aromas of smoked barbecue lure visitors to the onsite watering hole Pete & Pegs Silver Platter Bar B-Q, which serves everything from pulled pork to gator tails.