BEST PLACES TO SEE
ALLIGATORS IN FLORIDA

By  Mike Miller  May 14, 2022

Links to Alligator Attraction Websites at end of the Article

According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Florida is home to about 1.3 million alligators. 

They show up in all 67 Florida counties and an old saying in Florida is that if you have a pond, lake, stream, or swamp, you will have alligators.

American AlligatorsAmerican Alligators

This is amazing because in 1967 they were listed as an endangered species.  In 1973 the Endangered Species Act outlawed alligator hunting.

Hunting and trading in alligator hides and meat slowed down to a trickle and the animals have made an amazing recovery.

Alligator Hunter on Lake PanasoffkeeAlligator Hunter on Lake Panasoffkee

They are so common now in Florida that you will see them not only in their natural habitat, but on golf courses and even now and then in a residential swimming pool.

Take a look at this monster in Daytona Beach.

It is not surprising the University of Florida calls its sports teams "The Gators" and nicknamed its football stadium "The Swamp." Its mascots are Albert and Alberta.

Albert and Alberta, Florida Gator MascotsAlbert and Alberta, Florida Gator Mascots

An obscure fact is that there are two types of alligators living in the world today. 

There is a Chinese alligator, and the ones we have here in Florida, American alligators. Only an expert can tell the difference.

There are dozens of places to see live alligators in Florida.  Here are some ideas for places to see gators.

BEST PLACES TO SEE ALLIGATORS IN FLORIDA
IN THE WILD

EVERGLADES NATIONAL PARK

40001 State Road 9336
Homestead, FL 33034
Tel: 305-242-7700

Tour Boat at Everglades National ParkTour Boat at Everglades National Park

Of the 1.3 million alligators in Florida, more than 200,000 of them live in the Florida Everglades. 

A location in the park not far from Miami is the Shark Valley Visitor Center.

There is a paved path from the parking area to the observation tower.  A tram tour will take you there and you will probably see alligators along the way.

There are also boat tours at the entrance in Everglades City.  You will almost always see alligators on one of these tours.

Everglades City also has many places where you can get private airboat rides that will take you through alligator habitat.

This brackish water environment is one of the best ways to see wild alligators in their natural home.

Big Cypress National Preserve is on the west side of the Everglades.  Big Cypress Loop Road is a quiet scenic drive you can take where you will usually see wild alligators.

The loop road is connected at its east and west ends to the Tamiami Trail (US-41).  The Trail connects Miami to Tampa and goes through Naples and other Southwest Florida cities.

Another route through the Everglades is I-75, known locally as "Alligator Alley."  This highway connects Fort Lauderdale to Naples.

There are several rest areas along the route where you can pull off and maybe see some alligators and other Florida wildlife.

HILLSBOROUGH RIVER STATE PARK

15402 US-301 North
Thonotosassa, FL 33592
Tel: 813-987-6771

Hillsborough RiverHillsborough River

Although only 20 minutes north of downtown Tampa, the park and Hillsborough River have a lot of alligators.

The park has 7 miles of nature trails and many places to enjoy outdoor recreation.

This is a good place to bring your kayak or canoe and go paddling in the river.  You will almost always see alligators in their natural habitats.

MERRITT ISLAND NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE

1987 Scrub Jay Way
Titusville, FL 32782
Tel: 321-861-0669

Alligator at Merritt Island National Wildlife RefugeAlligator at Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge

This huge 140,000 acre refuge is located adjacent to Kennedy Space Center. The refuge is open from sunrise to sunset every day of the year.

The best place to see wildlife, including alligators, is the Black Point Wildlife Drive.  

You drive your own car as slow as you'd like and take a good look at everything around you. 

You will almost always see alligators either swimming slowly by or basking in the sun beside the warm water on sunny days.

MYAKKA RIVER STATE PARK

13208 State Rad 72
Sarasota, FL 34241
Tel: 941-361-6511

Myakka River State Park, Alligators in Deep HoleMyakka River State Park, Alligators in Deep Hole

This beautiful 37,000 acre park is in Sarasota County and Manatee County.

No one knows for sure how many alligators call this park home, but at least 120 have been counted at one time on one viewing.

There is a place on the lower lake called Deep Hole where an amazing number of alligators like to congregate.  It sometimes look like a gator family reunion.

It requires a special permit to visit Deep Hole that you have to obtain at the ranger station.

ST. JOHNS RIVER

Vintage Postcard of the St Johns RiverVintage Postcard of the St Johns River

The north flowing St. Johns River begins in the marshy areas west of Vero Beach and flows north to Jacksonville.  Along the way it widens out into several lakes.

Two of these lakes are loaded with alligators:  Lake George and Lake Jesup.

It is estimated that Lake Jesup is home to 13,000 alligators.  One survey counted 2,322 alligators in Lake George. 

You can take airboat tours on these lakes.  One place that offers an airboat trip on Lake Jesup is Black Hammock Fish Camp at 407-807-6623.

Some other places you can access these places are at Old Florida Places on the St. Johns River.

BEST PLACES TO SEE ALLIGATORS IN FLORIDA
IN CAPTIVITY

Sometimes nature and weather do not want to cooperate in letting you see alligators out where they live in the wild.

That is why the best chance of safely seeing a gator is in one of the many Florida attractions that promise you a good time while teaching you about alligators.

Here are some that I think you will enjoy.

EVERGLADES ALLIGATOR FARM

40351 SW 192nd Avenue
Homestead, FL 33034
Tel: 305-247-2628

Feeding Alligators at Everglades Alligator FarmFeeding Alligators at Everglades Alligator Farm

This is the oldest alligator farm in South Florida.  It is located near the entrance to Everglades National Park.

More than 2,000 gators live at this farm.  They put on alligator shows, offer airboat tours, and alligator feeding demonstrations.

EVERGLADES WONDER GARDENS

27180 Old 41 Road
Bonita Springs, FL 34135
Tel: 239-992-2591

Baby Gator at Everglades Wonder GardensBaby Gator at Everglades Wonder Gardens

This historic attraction was established in 1936. It is one of the smallest of its kind.

It is a refuge for rescued birds and reptiles who are given a home in the tropical settings of banyan trees and other botanical tropical plants.

More than 300 animals live here, including 37 alligators who spend their days relaxing on what the park calls Alligator Beach.

GATORAMA

10665 US-27
Palmdale, FL 33944
Tel: 863-675-0623

Huge Gator and Brave Man at GatoramaHuge Gator and Brave Man at Gatorama

Alligators and crocodiles are raised here and sold for their meat and skins.  You can enjoy animal encounters and alligator shows.

One of their most popular events is the Gatorama Annual Hatching.  This is a unique opportunity to hold an alligator egg as it is hatching.

The alligator eggs are incubated slowly over a period of time.  You need to buy a ticket for a specific hatching time. 

It is thrilling to hold an egg while a baby gator is struggling out to get their first look at the world.

Once the juvenile alligators have hatched, they will be taken to their "nursery" for care and feeding.

Gatorama also have a large collection of animals other than gators that the kids will enjoy interacting with.

GATORLAND

14501 S. Orange Blossom Trail
Orlando, FL 32837
Tel: 407-855-5496

Vintage Postcard Gatorland EntranceVintage Postcard Gatorland Entrance

Gatorland goes way back before the theme parks came to the area, and it is still holding its own.

It is located on 110 acres and was founded in 1949 by Owen Godwin.  It is still owned by his family.

Generations of Floridians and tourists have enjoyed this park.  Kids love to handle the baby alligators and other reptiles.

Jim, Lee, Suzy and FriendJim, Lee, Suzy and Friend at Gatorland

Gatorland has an abundance of alligators that you can wander among (safely) and enjoy watching them being fed along with other shows.

The also have two ziplines where you can soar above the hungry reptiles.

JUNGLE ADVENTURES

26205 E. Colonial Drive
Christmas, FL 32709
Tel: 407-568-2885

Swampy the Building at Jungle AdventuresSwampy the Building at Jungle Adventures

This small attraction is located on US-50 between Orlando and the Space Coast.  It is a re-creation of a Florida natural habitat.

You can handle a baby alligator and enjoy their "Gator Jamboree Feeding" where the guides hand feed the large alligators.

They have a river boat that takes you through natural habitat where you will see alligators, birds, and more.

ST. AUGUSTINE ALLIGATOR FARM ZOOLOGICAL PARK

999 Anastasia Blvd.
St. Augustine, FL 32080
Tel: 904-824-3337

Maximo the Crocodile and Brave ManMaximo the Crocodile and Brave Man

This historic attraction opened in 1893 and is on the National Register of Historic Places.

It has 24 species of crocodilians, including Maximo, a giant crocodile.  Maximo is 15 feet 3 inches long and weighs 1,250 pounds.

He is the largest animal in the attraction and is a salt water croc from 

The attraction is loaded with tropical birds and a wide variety of animals.  It is truly a zoological park rather than only an alligator attraction.

St. Augustine Alligator Farm ZiplineSt. Augustine Alligator Farm Zipline

For the adventurous, there is a zipline where you can soar safely above the exhibits for an overhead view of an amazing variety of animals.


Clark's Fish Camp, Mandarin, FloridaClark's Fish Camp, Mandarin, Florida
Never Feed an Alligator in the Wild
or it will think you are food.

Some restaurants and fish camps in Florida have alligators in captivity for visitors to take a look at up close and personal. One such is Clark's Fish Camp on Julington Creek in Mandarin. It's not only a great place to eat, but has a world class taxidermy exhibit.

Sweetie the AlligatorSweetie the Alligator

Another is the Florida Key Lime Pie Company in Cocoa Beach. They have a pet gator named Sweetie who lives at Jungle Adventures in Christmas but spends weekends at the restaurant.  


LINKS TO WEBSITES OF PLACES IN THIS ARTICLE

Everglades National Park
Hillsborough River State Park
Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge
Myakka River State Park
Black Hammock Fish Camp
Everglades Alligator Farm
Everglades Wonder Gardens
Gatorama
Gatorland
Jungle Adventures
St Augustine Alligator Farm
Clark's Fish Camp
Florida Key Lime Pie Company

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