Birthday Road Trip - Everglades and Marco Island

Hey guys!

It's become a tradition of mine the last few years to do something fun and outdoors for my birthday. This year, I decided to go on a little road trip with my mom and sister. I've always felt like if the beach is my home, the Everglades is my backyard, so it seemed only fitting to get a bit of both! 

*Disclaimer: I may earn a small commission for purchases made through some of the links on this page. My views and opinions are never swayed and will only recommend products or places I love. 

Our day began by heading West on Tamiami Trail (US 41) from Miami. The plan was to make it to Marco Island by lunch time, but we made a few stops on the way.

Big Cypress Oasis Visitor Center
Our first stop was at Big Cypress Oasis Visitor Center. Located on the Northern side of Tamiami Trail, in the Big Cypress National Preserve. 

It features a little boardwalk along side a canal, where alligators tend to hang out during the dry season. (I've found that during the summer months, aka wet season, I see fewer gators in the area. Due to the fact that they can fan out into the wild river of grass.) 

I lost count as to how many gators I did see at the Oasis on this day, but it had to be at least 20. This is a great spot to see them because you are right above the water, therefore very close to the natural wildlife.


Big Cypress Swamp Welcome Center
Further West on US 41, on the Southern side of the road, is the Big Cypress Swamp Welcome Center. It is similar to Oasis, with an information building and boardwalk overlooking the water. 

During winter, manatees tend to head south, or inland, warmer waters. And I've actually seen manatees here! (If you've watched my Instagram Story, then you'd know my current obsession with them, so I was very excited to see one.)

Unfortunately I did not get a good photo of the manatee this day... You can kind of see it in the shadows towards the upper center of the photo above. I quickly had to switch to my telephoto lens and missed the shot before it swam too far...

But I did see one more gator!

Marco Island
We continued heading West 'til we hit San Marco Rd, then took that to our main destination: Marco Island. 

I've always liked walking through the various strip malls on the island. One of my favorites is the Esplanade Shoppes. It's right by a marina with pretty yachts that I can't afford... but they're still nice to look at!

But, lets be honest, the beach is the best part!

I've been to Marco many times, and I normally go to the regular public beach access on the Southern end of the island. It was packed that day so we went to Tigertail Beach, on the Northern end, instead.

At first, we parked in the main Tigertail parking lot. Where they have a snack bar, observation tower, and various water sport rentals like kayaks and paddleboards. But the shortcut to the actual beach on the Gulf makes you cross through the tidal lagoon over Sand Dollar Island.

We were not prepared to walk through the cold lagoon water... So we moved our car to the Tigertail parking lot #6, which brings you closer to the other beach access. It's a much longer walk across a boardwalk and sand to finally make it to the Gulf, but it was so worth it!

We found lots of shells, a sand dollar, and many "snow-birds" that fled their usual winter weather.

Outfit Details
My striped dress is from Old Navy, about 6 years ago.
Waterproof watch is by Freestyle, in the Aloha Paradise Green style. (You can use my discount code: MERMAID10)
Rings and bracelets from Pura Vida Bracelets. (Discount code: LAURAGARCIA20)
Sunglasses by Blenders Eyewear. (Discount code: LALAMERMAID20)

Even though Marco is on the opposite side of the state, it actually doesn't take us that long to get there! After spending most of the day exploring, we jumped back in the car for the 90 minute drive back home. It was a great birthday visiting some of my favorite places.



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