Gator gazing in the Everglades

Where did you go?

Shark Valley, one of three entrances to Florida's Everglades National Park.

Where did you stay?

Less than an hour east, in busy Miami, which made this naturalists' haven an especially welcome respite.

What did you do?

I hiked the boardwalks and then took a 15-mile ride in an open-sided tram along a looping path through the park's saw grass, sun-bleached cypress trees, and islands of trees (called hammocks). Bird sightings included anhingas (with some puffy chicks), ibis, egrets, and wood storks. Blue herons flew among pink spoonbills, a stunning sight. The other attraction: alligators. I quickly lost count of the carnivorous reptiles lying low in the matted periphyton (algae) or in full view beside the trail. ("We're not going to stop for all of them," said our guide, early on.) Halfway through the two-hour trip ($14.50) the tram stopped at a lookout tower for a big-picture view.

Where did you eat? Barbecue joints crop up along the razor-straight road from Miami, and Cuban food can be had along Calle Ocho when you hit the city on the way back. But I opted for Monty's (great ribs), overlooking a marina back in Coconut Grove. Time for people-watching again.

Where have you been? What did you do? Write us at Weekend

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