An Everglades guide for the non-outdoorsy

FLORIDA CITY, Fla. — The outdoors.

For female readers who hear those words and immediately flinch in disgust, have no fear. Put down your iPhone and your recent purchase of “Camping for Dummiesbecause, with these tips, you will be ready to play dress up when trekking the trails of the Everglades National Park.

While these are not the most suitable clothes for climbing mountains and fishing in the wetlands of the park, with the help from Coral Gables’ outdoor activity stores, they are perfect for a laid-back excursion with friends.

An alligator suns at Shark Valley in Everglades National Park (Staff photos). DSC_1591

Check the calendar to see if you will be visiting the Everglades during its wet or dry seasons. Dry season takes place from December to April, which means there is low humidity and temperatures vary from 53 degrees Fahrenheit to 77 degrees Fahrenheit. This is peak tourist season because the water levels are low and the warm winter attracts birds and their predators.

Wet season lasts from May through November and humidity levels are much higher and it rains most of the time. Either way, check your iPhone’s Weather app and pick up a Columbia Arcadia rain jacket. They are one of the most popular women’s jackets at Dick’s Sporting Goods because they are colorful, waterproof and breathable.

First things first. Just in case your iPhone’s Siri stops working because of the loss of Wi-Fi service in the middle of the park, pack a first aid kit and compass. While most of the Everglades’ trails are paved, it is better for inexperienced explorers to be safe rather than sorry.

Before packing up your Louis Vuitton purse, switch it up for a Recon Backpack by The North Face. The women’s bag can be purchased in green, purple and blue. Most importantly, it has compression-molded shoulder straps, water bottle pockets and an integrated whistle. Although it may not have the signature LV design, this backpack will be much more useful than your Louis.

DSC_1136 Hiking along Anhinga Trail in the Everglades is filled with rewards such as spotting wildlife.

Keep moving down your packing list by getting yourself a nice pair of shoes. Say goodbye to heels and hello to boots. No not Christian Dior’s patent grey leathers, but boots that are equipped for all environments.

Outdoor activities like bird watching can finally be done in style, especially when you are wearing Fitzsimmons boots. These hiking boots are water, shock and odor resistant. Fitzsimmons can be purchased online or at the Coral Gables locations of SoleFly, Nordstrom and Lupa Shoes.

The South Floridian sun will be blazing hot as you walk through its trails. An employee from Dick’s Sporting Goods who goes by his first name, Richard, suggests that you stay smart by strapping on a large hat and packing a water bottle to stay hydrated.

If neither bucket nor cowboy hat is your style, put your hair in braids and get yourself a visor. Remember the less sun exposure, the less wrinkles, and your skin will thank you later.

Although you are more comfortable staying on Miami’s city streets, once you are all packed up, fill your gas tank and depart on the one-hour drive west to the Everglades.

Begin your outdoor excursion by heading towards one of the Everglades most popular trails, Anhinga Trail. The self-guided walk starts at the Royal Palm Visitor Center and is about 0.8 miles round trip. This trail has paved roads and a raised wooden boardwalk that winds over freshwater.

Birds are common sightings along Anhinga Trail in winter. DSC_1097

Use Urban Outfitters’ Polaroid camera to snap pictures of the great views and wildlife, including birds, turtles and alligators resting in and out of the water. A great way to document your expedition is to purchase a wildlife-viewing guide at the Royal Palm Visitor Center and add your Polaroid pictures and pamphlet to a scrapbook.

Get to some shade and take a leisurely stroll through the woods that is adjacent to the Anhinga Trail. Don’t forget your bug spray because you will definitely need it for the blood-sucking mosquitoes along the Gumbo Limbo Trail.

This trail consists of a paved walkway that is immediately immersed with royal palms, ferns, Strangler Fig Trees and the trail’s namesake, the Gumbo Limbo Tree. Although there is not as much wildlife to see, look closely and you might spot owls and lizards.

For a natural relaxing experience, turn off your music, take out your headphones and listen to the sounds of the wind and birds.

Although staying inside and watching the latest episode of “Keeping Up With The Kardashians” is always exciting, try something new and face the wilderness wearing the trendiest of outdoor gear while doing it.


If You Go

  • Columbia Arcadia rain jacket purchased at Dick’s Sporting Goods, 11900 Mills Dr., Miami, Fla. 33183.
  • DSC_1133Recon Backpack by The North Face purchased at Dick’s Sporting Goods, 11900 Mills Dr., Miami, Fla. 33183.
  • Polaroid camera purchased at Urban Outfitters. 7535 N. Kendall Dr., Miami, Fla. 33143.
  • Fitzsimmons boots can be purchased at SoleFly, 8099 S. Dixie Hwy., Ste. 2, Miami, Fla. 33143. Also at Nordstrom, 7239 N. Kendall Dr., Miami, Fla. 33156 and Lupa Shoes, 7795 W. Flagler St., #37, Miami, Fla. 33144.

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